Excellence: More or Less?

Deadly Drugs

The Defense Health Board has endorsed a controversial recommendation allowing doctors to prescribe multiple psychotropic medications for individual troops, despite the fact the Military Health System lacks a unified pharmacy database to track prescription drug use. Military and private clinicians and the families of troops who died due to multidrug toxicity view these recommendations as potentially deadly.

As Nextgov has reported, 20 percent of 1.1 million active-duty troops surveyed by the Defense Department's PharmacoEconomic Center, or 213,972 soldiers, took some form of pyschotrophic drug as of June 2010. In a July 2010 report on suicide, the Army said these prescription drugs have contributed to an epidemic of suicides. The report found that prescription drugs were involved in one-third of the 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009, and another 101 soldiers died accidentally from the toxic mixing of prescription drugs from 2006 to 2009.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, said at the time the service had to develop better controls for prescription drugs: "Let's make sure when we prescribe that we put an end date on that prescription so it doesn't remain an open-ended opportunity for somebody to be abusing drugs."

For the past two years, Congress has directed the Pentagon to improve its drug-tracking systems. In June 2010, the Senate faulted Defense for its inability to monitor psychotropic drug use in combat zones and directed it to quickly develop "a reliable method to track and manage the prescription and use of pharmaceuticals, to include psychotropic medications, by deployed service members."

In June, the House noted that the department still cannot track prescription medications.

-- Bob Brewin

Slashing Websites

The Energy Department might win the prize for the first agency to actually shut down a website in connection with the governmentwide campaign to bring order to the federal online footprint.

In August, the department shut down Energyempowers .gov, a sort of online energy news service, and folded that content into its flagship Energy.gov site. Department managers made the changes during a redesign of Energy .gov's user interface and as the site was transferred from Energy servers to Amazon's public EC2 computer cloud. The department says the move to cloud hosting will save taxpayers $50,000 annually.

The consolidation was part of an agency campaign to slash the government's Web presence, which has mushroomed to more than 20,000 sites since the early 1990s. In addition to saving the cost of maintaining thousands of websites, officials say the campaign is aimed at cleaning up the government's loose Web presence, which contains dozens of different architectures and designs and often leaves users confused about what's an official government site and what isn't.

--Joseph Marks

Phone Hacking Fears

While there is no evidence that reporters at the now- defunct British tabloid News of the World eavesdropped on stateside mobile voicemails, U.S. citizens' smartphones are penetrable by adversaries and unscrupulous journalists, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman told reporters this summer after the Pentagon announced a new cybersecurity strategy.

The phone hacking scandal demonstrates the need for fortified consumer smartphones that block call interceptions, Gen. James E. Cartwright says, noting that the Pentagon pays a lot of money for such technology today.

--Aliya Sternstein

Paper Trails

Despite the fact the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture electronic health record system has been around for decades, it took the Veterans Affairs Department until August to take action to get rid of its paper medical files. VA issued a solicitation seeking help with a project to eliminate paper records for 9 million patients stored in 139 medical centers.

The department has initially targeted 22 facilities for the project, called File Room Reduction-Closure Services. Each facility stores between 1,000 feet (1.5 million pages) and 5,000 feet (7.5 million pages) of documents and needs some help scanning and indexing this mass of paper.

One wonders why it took so long to kick off this project.

-- Bob Brewin

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.