Federal Drive interviews – Nov. 13

Philip JoyceProfessor of Management, Finance, and Leadership, School of Public Policy at University of Maryland

For Congress, and by default for the rest of the government, continuing resolutions have become the standard for funding agencies. Federal, state and local governments now anticipate and plan for C-Rs. But there’s a price agencies pay when a budget doesn’t get passed. A new report from the IBM Center for the business of government evaluates the effects of late appropriations on management at federal agencies.

Sgt. Dale SweetnamOffice of the Chief of Public Affairs, Pentagon

Hurricane Sandy is the latest example of how ubiquitous social media has become. First responders, news media, and citizens sent out more than three million tweets before Hurricane Sandy even landed. Many communicated helpful information…like nearby shelters or hotline phone numbers. But others were simply wrong. As the Army found out… setting the record straight once misinformation goes viral isn’t easy.


See Army slideshow on Sandy-related social media use

Debra RothPartner, Shaw, Bransford and Roth

If former CIA Director David Petraeus thought he could resign and ride off into the sunset following revelations of an affair, he probably needs to think again. The retired four-star general will face a lot of questions about his conduct simply as a high level federal employee. Roth explains some of the implications.

John PalgutaVice President for Policy, Partnership for Public Service

What will a second Obama term bring for federal workers? Some hope the president will revive his call for major civil service reform. It last occurred in the 1970s, during the Carter Administration. When the Obama crew came in, there was talk about the need for a fresh round of reform. But not a lot has changed.

Gen. Craig McKinleyRetired chief, National Guard Bureau

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks marked a pivotal moment for the National Guard. It went from being the military’s strategic reserve to a key part of the war strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Guard Memorial Museum in downtown Washington is opening a new exhibit hall to showcase the transformation over the past 11 years. McKinley describes a Guard running on all cylinders with missions overseas and at home.

Kathleen MillerReporter, Bloomberg Government

It seems like you can’t go a week without hearing about another new Veterans Affairs program to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. But an exhaustive new report from Bloomberg Government paints a picture of an agency overwhelmed by its mission. And with perhaps a million troops expected to retire in the next five years, it could get even worse.

Read the story. (BGov is a paid site and requires a subscription to access stories.)


Cybersecurity Update

The Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are looking at ways to develop a “cyber ecosystem.” The system would be capable of assessing and defending itself against cyber threats using a concept called Automated Collective Action. A DHS official told Government Computer News that it’s being attacked in an automated fashion and needs to respond in an automated fashion. What remains to be determined is where humans fit into the decision loop to verify results. (Government Computer News)

As top generals are learning this week, it’s not so easy to keep your email messages private. Sending an email creates a record. Investigators can match times and dates with your Internet address to find you. That’s what happened in the case of Paula Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus. FBI agents traced harassing emails sent to another woman back to Broadwell. It turns out the emails came from an account that used an alias. When agents looked further, they determined that account belonged to Petraeus. He and Broadwell were using it to write draft messages for each other. They thought they could log on and read them without creating an electronic trail. Authorities say it’s a technique that al-Qaida terrorists have also used. (Associated Press)

President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are evaluating options for how many troops to leave in Afghanistan after the bulk of forces depart. Afghanistan forces commander Marine General John Allen has submitted several choices, Defense News reports. Panetta says they’ll have a decision within a few weeks. Right now 68,000 troops are operating in Afghanistan. The president has set 2014 as the end date for most American involvement. But an agreement with Afghanistan’s government will leave a small American force there indefinitely. (Defense News)

Leon Panetta tells Pentagon reporters he is not stepping down anytime soon. The defense secretary says he’s staying in Washington to fulfill his responsibilities. That includes overseeing the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan scheduled to end by late 2014. Panetta says defense leaders and the White House are reviewing plans for what happens next. He expects they’ll finish within a few weeks. He says he’s also working with President Obama to avert defense spending cuts. But Panetta says “it’s not secret that at some point” he’d like to return to his home state of California. He says it’s a decision best taken day-to-day. The presidential election touched off rumors of Panetta’s desire to resign. (Defense Department)

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