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Congress is Sending Mixed Messages on Defense Procurement

Think Bold. That’s the slogan of the so-called "Section 809 Panel," a special commission created by Congress to review the full spate of federal (and defense-unique) acquisition laws, rules and practices. The goal is to provide lawmakers with a set of recommendations for legislative or administrative redress that will help improve the speed and performance of the defense acquisition system and open its aperture to the full array of available capabilities.

At a recent but little noticed hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, panel chair Deirdre Lee and several of her fellow panelists made eminently clear the need for substantial change, stating outright that the current acquisition system is simply incapable of getting the job done. The pace and scope of technological developments, the changing nature of the requisite workforce, the dramatic shift in technology ownership and leadership, and the numerous regulatory and policy requirements that too often wall the government off from needed solutions were among the reasons the panelists were so unanimous in their belief that truly bold action is required. And that’s exactly what they promised their final report would deliver.

Sound familiar? It should. The landscape is littered with the remains of scores...

Older Americans Are More Millennial Than Millennials

Young people are the supposed vanguards of a new economic age. Unlike their parents, young people are said to value happiness over money. They prefer gigs over jobs. They prefer flexibility and meaning rather than status and hours at work. Rather than attach themselves to a single company, they are ushering in an economy of coffee-shop “creatives,” hot-desking between WeWork-style shared work spaces in pursuit of their individualistic dreams.

But there is another generation of U.S. workers with those non-monetary values and gig-style jobs. It’s not America’s youngest workers, but rather America’s oldest.

There is little question that an aging workforce—and an aging country—is one of the most important features of the modern economy. By 2024, one quarter of the workforce will be 55 and over—more than twice what the share was in 1994. And as they extend their working years, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity, it’s older Americans who are quietly adopting Millennial stereotypes, far more than actual Millennials are.

First, consider the gig economy, which is often framed as a Millennial counter-revolution to the failures of the traditional economy. In fact, the gig economy is full of older...

Boosting Job-Creating Foreign Investment in the U.S.

The U.S. is seen as one of the safest places in the world to invest. And these investments turn into jobs. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in 2014, 6.4 million Americans were employed by U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms.

As of 2015, foreign firms had invested more than $3.1 trillion in the United States, with a record-high of $348 billion that year alone. However, the country’s overall share of global foreign investments declined when compared to the pre-recession period of 1999-2008.  So, how can this trend be reversed? One key strategy has been to enlist the federal government as both a promoter and a one-stop shop for foreign investors.

Historically, economic development had been left to states and cities to compete among themselves for investments in their local economies. While this model may have worked in earlier years—before the unprecedented increases in investments by foreign companies in the global economy—competitor countries have now developed national strategies to attract foreign investments on a scale that states and localities could not.

In 2007, the George W. Bush Administration launched the Invest in America Initiative —the first U.S. government-wide program promoting and facilitating...

Risk and Trump’s Reorganization Order

With President Trump’s recent executive order requiring federal agencies to submit reform and reorganization plans, senior leaders are identifying ways to help streamline government by improving their efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, they should focus on risk management and data-driven decision making.

Making decisions about which programs to eliminate or how to restructure the organizational functions of an agency is a challenge. It’s even more difficult when an agency lacks adequate information on either performance or risk or a mechanism with which to analyze it.

Recent legislation and guidance from the Office of Management and Budget pushes the federal government toward an evidence-based decision making approach for managing risk and aligning activities with mission. Specifically, OMB’s revised Circular A-123, requiring agencies to undertake enterprise risk management, coupled with the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act and the 2015 Fraud Reduction and Data Analytics Act, emphasize both risk management and enhanced use of data to inform decisions throughout agencies.

The private sector has long recognized the value of performance-focused risk management. High-performing companies have moved beyond ERM as a compliance exercise and incorporated risk management into their everyday business processes. A...

A Science-Backed Trick to Reduce Fear And Anxiety Takes Just 30 Seconds and a Pen

The next time painful or stressful feelings threaten to overwhelm you, here is what you do: get something to write with. Get something to write on. Write down a word that describes the emotion you’re experiencing. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive. Just a word or two will do.

Affect labeling—the act of naming one’s emotional state—helps to blunt the immediate impact of negative feelings and kickstart the process of climbing back down from stress. The clarifying effect of putting feelings into words was observed at least as far back as the 17th century, when the philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote in his Ethics: “An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.” It’s also the basis of modern psychoanalysis.

Why it works has taken a lot longer to figure out. There are clues in a small 2007 study of 30 subjects at the University of California, Los Angeles. Led by psychology professor Matthew Lieberman, the researchers conducted a series of brain-imaging experiments in which participants were shown frightening faces and asked to choose a word that described the emotion on display...

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