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Search Tags: Jared Serbu
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.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rolling out a new phase of its food environment atlas. The Web tool was originally designed a year ago to let users click on any county in the country, and get data on the local food choices and diet quality that influence an individual community's health. IT was developed as part of the first lady's Let's Move campaign. The latest rollout almost doubles the number of data points for each county in the atlas. It now considers 168 different indicators. USDA says the updates they've just made to the web tool will also let the agency and the site's users track changes in food choice over time. It includes data on everything from the concentration of farmers markets vs. convenience stores in a given community, to the average distance to the nearest grocery store. The site has already logged 100,000 visitors.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is launching a beta version of a new R&D Dashboard. The idea is to let anyone who accesses the new site take a look at where federal research and development money is going, how it's being used, and what the outcomes of research projects are. It uses publicly-available data to show users federal research dollars at the state level, the Congressional district level, even down to the specific research institutions getting the grants. The R&D Dashboard is being developed by a team led by the National Science Foundation, and for now it only includes data from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health over the last decade. But OSTP plans to expand the sites to include other types of research grants in the future.
The chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services committee are determined to find a near-term way to pass a Defense Department budget, and not merely a continuing resolution, for fiscal year 2011, the panel's top Democrat said Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security already has real-time access to biometric data maintained in the FBI's huge database of criminal records. Within the next year, it'll be able to share similar data with the Defense Department.