I know it seems like an almost silly question, but go ahead—just try to make it through the day without using the ubiquitous search engine. Or, even try to make it through the day without using it in speech—“Googling something.” My guess is it would be fairly difficult. Google has become the way to find information. But it also is arguably the fastest growing company in the world. Are there lessons that government can learn from the search giant?
Christopher Dorobek, writing in this month's Incoming column, addresses a major question for public managers: Just what is the best way to manage in the public sector? During the 1990s, many government agencies were trying valiantly to put performance standards into place, and took many cues from the private sector. But as Dorobek notes in Ending Government's Private-Sector Envy, government is very different from private industry.
Some government phrases should be retired. By far, the most destructive is, “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.” Those words have sapped the life out of more innovative ideas, change and evolution than perhaps any others. But right behind that idea is the concept that the private sector does everything right and the public sector ... well ... does not.
With all the headlines about honest mistakes of late, it bears remembering that not all mistakes are bad, writes Christopher Dorobek in his newest Incoming column, "Government Needs to Find Balance in Oversight". Noting the government trend toward accountability, Dorobek questions whether accountability itself should be the mission of government. Too much oversight, he cautions, may stifle the very thing agencies need most to best accomplish their missions.
It has become a truism that the federal government is awash with waste, fraud and abuse. Over the years, that widely held belief has spurred the creation of an entire oversight industry. This includes the inspectors general, the so-called good-government groups, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and, of course, the news media.
Chris Dorobek, writing in this month's Incoming column, notes several examples of successful Gov 2.0 implementation in various agencies. He writes that the impending change in Washington's scenery and political tides may not be as nebulous as the rhetorical cry for "change" might imply:
Each inauguration brings about change. But this year, there is an almost palpable feeling that it is a time of change. For more than a year, the mantra on the presidential campaign has been change.
SIGNAL Editor in Chief Robert K. Ackerman puts some perspective on the Incoming column in this month's "Behind the Lines":
January weather in Washington may be dark and dreary, but every four years, the city on the Potomac is filled with the hope and optimism that comes with another inauguration. This isn’t political; it is the sense of renewal. Thousands of new—or somewhat new—faces will come to town. But a certain amount of trepidation also comes with the unknown, particularly for career public servants who have to prove their value.
Over the last two years, we have been inundated with bad news about the state of cybersecurity. The list of concerns is growing and endless: rampant cybercrime, increasing identity theft, sophisticated social engineering techniques, relentless intrusions into government networks, and widespread vulnerabilities continuously exploited by a variety of entities ranging from criminal organizations and entrepreneurial hackers to well-resourced espionage actors. We also are facing the implications of cyberwarfare in light of last year’s cyber attacks against Estonia. In a recent speech on cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned, “We’ve entered an era of new threats and vulnerabilities,” and the consequences of failure are exponentially greater.
"Significant change" is needed in how organizations approach questions of efficiency and effectiveness, writes Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) in this month's Incoming column, Change Is a Requisite for the Future of Network-Centric Operations.
Network-centric operations can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of any business operation. By employing the power of net centricity, the government, businesses and personal lives can be improved significantly. But, as with any endeavor, we must adopt new approaches even for network-centric operations.
Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) posits some interesting questions in this month's incoming columns. Looking at the nature of enterprise risk, he wonders whether any of our readers have ever been notified that their personal data had been exposed:
I have ... and it is not a comforting feeling. It also makes you immediately question the care and practices of the organizations that solicited your trust in safeguarding your private information.
Have you ever received notification from a government or industry office that your personal information may have been compromised or lost? I have—on both counts—and it is not a comforting feeling. It also makes you immediately question the care and practices of the organizations that solicited your trust in safeguarding your private information.
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) poses questions about the nature of CIO positions-their lack of a typical specific qualification list or consistent job description, the trend in CIOs working on management degrees, their lack of strategic decision-making authority.
Why is the job of chief information officer, especially in the public sector, so difficult? Is it ill-defined, misunderstood, threatening or powerless? Are qualified people assigned, and are salary and compensation levels adequate? These are good questions that represent problems expressed by many chief information officers.
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) talks about how management of data is so important. He looks at it from the enterprise level, discussion trends in how organizations can streamline data management operations through consolidation of data centers. While the trend is interesting to discuss, it brings up another interesting point: Individuals are just as likely to need "data management" skills these days, what with the incredible amount of information that flows through their email in-boxes and feed readers. So, for discussion this month: How much is too much information, and how do you manage it all?
“It’s all about the data” is a popular expression today. More and more, we’ve come to realize that data is the central building block for protecting, processing, sharing and storing information. And, as government and industry data owners learn to believe in these realities, they quite often decide to establish their own data centers to maintain control. On the surface, this might easily seem like the right thing to do, but it isn’t always the best course to achieve effective consolidation. Being aware of data center consolidation experience and realities can save organizations large sums of money and improve operations.
In "Network Operations Mandate Critical Considerations," Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) outlines and explains his "pillars of netcentricity," which are communications infrastructure; security, including privacy and cybersecurity; information management, governance, and leadership. These pillars are so important, he continues, because as organizations face the challenges of continued streamlining, as resources continue to dwindle even as security demands continue to grow. With all this in mind, what key elements for effective and efficient network operations pose the greatest challenge for defense agencies?
As information systems have shifted from analog to digital and to Internet protocol, network operations (NetOps) increasingly has become the all-important central element of an evolving network-centric operations (NCO) ecosystem. Today, successful NetOps enables better decision-making, improved customer support and more effective business operations. It allows information access, sharing and collaboration among network users. But effective and efficient NetOps can only be achieved through a holistic management approach. Many organizations experience problems today by not addressing each of what I call the Five Pillars of Netcentricity.
This month, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. examines transition plans-his favorite, in particular, which is the 500-day plan. He discusses his experience using such a plan at CENTCOM and at DISA, and the benefits of doing so over, say, an 18-month plan or the "typical" five-year strategic plan favored by so many organizations. That leaves us with this month's Incoming question: What transition models are working for your agency or organization? How might the 500-day plan work for you?