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Search Tags: Jared Serbu
The Defense Department's efficiencies initiative isn't just about internal DoD processes, the Army's acquisition chief said Wednesday. The service wants its vendors to help find ways to reduce costs and take on risk in the process, he said.
Heather Higginbottom, President Obama's nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, likely will have her nomination sent to the full Senate by next week.
The Defense Department's top technology research official wants to build better bridges with academia and industry - both to conduct present-day studies, and to train the researchers DoD will need in the future.
The Defense and Energy departments will team up on a pair of multimillion dollar research projects. The goal is to give the military access to secure, reliable renewable energy, both in deployed units and on military bases.
Terry Halvorsen, who was named the Department of the Navy chief information officer in November, told attendees at a San Diego conference that his organization would seek to build more effective, efficient IT structures by leveraging the size and capabilities of both the Navy and Marine Corps. He also predicted the department's IT operation would have to meet its responsibilities with fewer people and fewer resources than it now has.
A new report from the Office of Personnel Management says federal agency employees were already increasing their use of telework, even before a new law designed to encourage the practice kicked in. OPM's Status of Telework Report says there were 11,000 more teleworkers in the federal government in 2008 than in 2009. That translates to around 10 percent of all agency workers who are eligible for telework, and 5 percent of the overall federal workforce under an established telework policy. But based on surveys, OPM says 22 percent of all federal workers teleworked to some extent - the agency says some of them did so through informal agreements with their supervisors. The Telework Enhancement Act, passed last year, requires every agency to designate a Telework Managing Officer. And by June, every federal employee should be told whether or not they're telework eligible.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says a new automated system for processing benefit claims has cut the time vets have to wait for education benefits in half. VA faced a big challenge when it was charged with implementing the new GI Bill for veterans who served after September 11, 2001. The new bill was much more complex than the original Montgomery G.I. Bill, and VA says it had no way to get its older IT systems to process the claims in an efficient way, so they resorted to doing much of the work on paper. So they partnered with the Navy to build a new system from the ground up. VA says they're building the system in increments, trying to gradually bring more of the system online every few months. When they started, they were processing 2,000 claims a day. Now, they're managing 10,000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has rolled out another online mapping tool - this one focusing on rural and small-town America. The website looks, and functions a lot like the Food Environment Atlas that USDA launched a year ago. But this version aims to bring together data on several facets of the nation's rural communities, so policymakers can make smarter decisions about where to direct federal resources. The department uses county-level data from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic analysis as well as its own data. The Census numbers are drawn from the first round of numbers coming from the American Community Survey. Users can click on a county and see information on demographics, jobs, agricultural data and other economic indicators. In addition to seeing that data, users can download it in spreadsheet form and use it in on other applications.
"We need to make sure we are getting the best bang for our bucks across all aspects of the federal government," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $140 million in grants to states across the country to help them develop IT systems that will run the new health insurance exchanges. The state-based exchanges, created as part of the healthcare reform act, are designed to be one-stop shops for individuals and small businesses to compare and buy health insurance online. The exchanges don't kick in until 2014, but HHS says it wants to give seven states a head start on developing reusable, transferrable IT systems so they can be used as models, and HHS can show other states the best ways to create their own IT infrastructure to support the exchanges. The grants will go to Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and a consortium of New England states.