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Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

Major Facebook Users Are Worse At Making Decisions

New research shows a connection between social media use and impaired risky decision-making.

“Around one-third of humans on the planet are using social media, and some of these people are displaying maladaptive, excessive use of these sites,” says Dar Meshi, lead author and assistant professor at Michigan State University. “Our findings will hopefully motivate the field to take social media overuse seriously.”

The findings, which appear in the Journal of Behavior Addictions, are the first to examine the relationship between social media use and risky decision-making capabilities.

“Decision making is oftentimes compromised in individuals with substance use disorders. They sometimes fail to learn from their mistakes and continue down a path of negative outcomes,” Meshi says. “But no one previously looked at this behavior as it relates to excessive social media users, so we investigated this possible parallel between excessive social media users and substance abusers. While we didn’t test for the cause of poor decision-making, we tested for its correlation with problematic social media use.”

The researchers had 71 participants take a survey that measured their psychological dependence on Facebook, similar to addiction. Questions on the survey asked about users’ preoccupation with the platform, their feelings when unable...

Agencies Spent $4 Trillion Last Year; Did Taxpayers Get What They Paid For?

The federal government spent over $4 trillion in fiscal year 2018, but according to a Gallup poll, more than 60 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with federal government services. When pressed to explain which services cost too much or why they think Americans don’t get what they pay for, there’s no clear answer. Instead, a general perception exists, often created by partisan politics and the media.

How do we correct the record? How do we help Americans become more engaged citizens, empowering them with objective information that allows them to hold their elected officials more accountable for the programs they care about most? How do elected officials make more informed resource allocation decisions, and ultimately ensure the federal government satisfies its citizens?

At the highest level, the answer is simple: Create and implement a comprehensive, standardized way to evaluate the cost-benefit trade-offs for each federal program. As with most things, the devil is in the details.

There are currently 2,277 domestic assistance programs offered by the federal government, according to the General Services Administration. Federal agencies administer these programs, reporting their cost and performance to the public according to federal management legislation such as the 1990 CFO...

Older Folks Were Most Likely To Share ‘Fake News’ In 2016

New research finds that only a small percentage of Americans, less than 9 percent, shared links to so-called “fake news” sites on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

This behavior, however, was disproportionately common among people over the age of 65, researchers report.

“Despite widespread interest in the fake news phenomenon, we know very little about who actually shares fake news,” says Joshua Tucker, a professor of politics at New York University and co-director of the Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) Lab. “This study takes a first step towards answering this question.

“Perhaps most significantly, we find that sharing this type of content on Facebook was a relatively rare activity during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Tucker says.


Among the overall sample of study participants, which researchers drew from a panel survey the polling firm YouGov conducted, only 8.5 percent shared links from fake news sites via Facebook.

Notably, only 3 percent of those aged 18-29 shared links from fake news sites, compared with 11 percent of those over age 65. Critically, the association with age appears to be independent of respondents’ ideological or partisan affiliations.

“If seniors are more likely to share fake...

If the Shutdown Derails Your Finances, It Could Affect Your Security Clearance

The government shutdown is entering day 16, and if you’re a national security employee, you’re probably still working. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re still getting a paycheck. While the Defense Department is working with appropriated funds, workers in the departments of Justice, State and elsewhere are now one pay period into not getting their regularly scheduled paycheck.

As past government shutdowns indicate, federal workers are likely to receive back pay for any days they were furloughed without a paycheck. But that doesn’t apply to furloughed contractors, who may be taking leave days or leave without pay. And while the government is shut down, the banks, credit card companies, and utility providers aren’t—the bills will continue to roll in, even if the paychecks don’t.

Financial Issues and Your Security Clearance

We recently analyzed the top reasons for security clearance denial in 2018. It should be no surprise that  finances continue to top the reasons for security clearance denial and revocation. (Financial issues cause more clearance denials and revocations than all other issues combined). And now that the government has access to your credit report at any time thanks to continuous monitoring, security clearance...

Federal Employees Did not Sign Up to be Shut Down

Another Trump-era government shutdown continues, this one with no end in sight. The President, who initially seemed to waver in his demands for wall funding, was urged to shut down the government by the far-right Freedom Caucus. Their actions will affect citizens seeking public services. But it will most immediately and negatively hurt the federal employees we rely on to make government work, reflecting a pattern of mismanagement of public service talent under the Trump administration.

Freedom caucus leader Mark Meadows urged Trump to “stick to his guns” in this “fight.” He told his followers to “remember the Alamo.” His somewhat less inspiring message to the 800,000 federal employees in the trenches who will not be paid until government reopens: “It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position.”

Meadows is wrong for a number of reasons. He will continue to receive a paycheck. More troublingly, a politician who uses the fraught language of war to justify an inability to perform the most basic governmental task–to pass a budget–is one that that prefers fighting to governing. And it is hard to imagine we are made safer by not funding...