Rebecca Jozwiak


Posts by Rebecca Jozwiak

Of all global organizations, the U.S. Department of Defense boasts the highest number of people on its payroll, with around 3.2 million employees. Close behind are China’s Army (2.3 million) and Walmart (2.1 million). With nearly 100,000 public schools and an estimated 49 million students, the K-12 public education system, however, far surpasses all three combined.

The most recent census data shows that schools spend on average $10,500 per student over the life of his K-12 career. Granted, state and local districts foot the bulk of the cost, but the U.S. Department of Education‘s (ED) current $68.1 billion budget operates programs that serve public and private schools, from pre-school through university. Keep reading →

Financial reform and budget cuts often induce the government to get creative. Making the best of resources and doing more for less become pivotal when performance and taxpayer confidence is on the line, but how government goes about that can have mixed results, according to TARP regulatory observer Amy Poster and Deloitte government analyst, Bill Eggers (pictured.)

Both experts weighed in on the latest episode of the Federal Spending webcast late last month during which host Eric Kavanagh tackled two diverse expense categories that share at least one common thread: financial significance. Keep reading →

The combination of social media and transparency in federal spending adds up to boatloads of data. But what impact do these forces have on federal policy? Perhaps more to the point: Is policy driving change, or is change driving policy?

Social media experts John Crupi, chief technology officer for JackBe, and Gov20LA founder Alan Silberberg joined host Eric Kavanagh on the latest episode of Federal Spending — an online radio broadcast designed to follow the money, not the politics — to discuss how social media and the push for transparency are shaping government policy and process. Keep reading →

Transportation spending accounts for 2.7%, or $234 billion, of the 2012 proposed federal budget. Only $8.3 billion is slated for the Federal Railroad Administration. Although the White House has stated that its goal over the next 25 years is to give 80% of Americans access to high speed rail, the development of mass and rapid transit systems faces many roadblocks, both financial and cultural.

With the exception of New York City, where 54% of workers commute via public transportation, every metropolitan area in the United States has one preferred means of transportation: the car. Keep reading →

Four major solar companies, including Solyndra, filed bankruptcy in the last four months, yet the Department of Energy continues to aggressively promote and fund solar energy projects. The rationale behind how the DOE appropriates its budget to explore multiple alternative energies– with varying degrees of success–was the central topic of the latest episode of Federal Spending, an online analysis program broadcast Oct. 6 through a collaborative arrangement with Breaking Gov.

Despite our best efforts, China outpaces the U.S. in solar and wind equipment production, largely because its government provides low cost loans and quick approval of imports and construction, according to keynote speaker Jack W. Plunket, CEO and publisher of Plunkett Research, Ltd., a Houston-based provider of market research and industry information. Keep reading →

The U.S. Government receives its share of jabs for being a belated adopter of technology. Federal officials have taken many steps — and some missteps –in recent years, however, to reverse that reputation.

Some of those steps were examined in depth on the Sept. 8 episode of “Federal Spending” as analysts explored how federal IT is trying to be more innovative with public portals, data center consolidation and encouraging cloud adoption. Keep reading →

Turning a blind eye to data quality problems can be problematic for any business, especially when billions of dollars are on the line. Such is the unfortunate tale of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the monster-truck-sized Government Sponsored Enterprises(GSEs) that went insolvent in 2008. Keep reading →

Our country is in deep financial trouble, with the mismanagement of federal debt looking like an outsized reflection of the mismanagement that led to the 2008 housing crisis.

That was one of several conclusions of a panel of experts discussing the hard numbers defining the government’s debt crisis, on the August 11 episode of “Federal Spending.” The online analysis program also examined the spectrum of the US debt, the ramifications of increasing the debt ceiling, and the ways in which information technology might ease the burden.

Using data from Mary Meeker’s “A Basic Summary of America’s Financial Statements,” host Eric Kavanagh said that while the government is paying an historically low 2.2% interest rate on its debt, the recent credit downgrade means we are considered a greater financial risk. “If interest rates go up, that’s going to magnify the amount of debt we owe,” said Kavanagh. With the current debt level topping $9 trillion, that will be no small chunk of change. While Standard & Poor’s defends its actions, the downgrade to AA has left congressmen pointing fingers. “It’s not the wisest strategy to blame the referee, even if the referee is wrong,” said Kavanagh.

How did we get to such level of debt? Meeker’s report paints a stark picture of the obvious: we spent more than we made, and borrowed to pay the bills.

Over the last 40 years nearly all tax revenue has fallen below GDP growth, while entitlement spending – Medicaid, Medicare, Unemployment and Social Security – has increased more than 10-fold. Add that to the plethora of bailouts in recent years, and it’s easy to see how the federal checkbook has become unbalanced. And so we borrowed. Foreign countries and investors currently own 46% of our debt, making our financial stability of global interest.

Analyst Robin Bloor, Ph.D., Chief Analyst and Co-Founder of The Bloor Group, said that we haven’t seen the worst of the economic woes. “We are moving into a period of severe depression, so it’s not so much rising commodity prices we should be looking at, it’s collapsing debt that’s going to be the problem,” said Bloor

The debt mismanagement mirrors the housing crisis of 2008, in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became insolvent as foreclosures skyrocketed. Malcolm Chisholm, Ph.D., President of, said that securitized mortgages bounced around so much that they became nearly impossible to document. The market, he said, has made the same mistake. “It’s a failure in data management combined with a failure in the operationalization of the financial system,” said Chisholm.

Author and Research Analyst Russell Ruggiero said that modernizing will help Washington regain some of its financial footing. “As we look at the short and medium-term, we could possibly say that IT expenditures will stay stable or even increase because there’s manpower needed to deploy these solutions that will improve the efficiencies within the government,” said Ruggiero.

Although there may be a sense of urgency, change is often best made incrementally. “People want to see quick results,” said Ruggiero, “but if we look at Washington as a battleship, it’s a very big battleship to turn quickly.”

Pre-Show Abstract

The United States debt just surpassed current Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which means if every cent of value generated in this country all year long were somehow dedicated to paying the debt down, there would still be money owed. What does that mean for the trajectory of federal spending? How do we compare with countries like Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (a group that speculators call PIIGS)? It’s really a numbers game with many unpredictable variables but at least one certain outcome: paying the piper.

The keynote will be delivered by Robin Bloor, Ph.D., with insights provided by Malcolm Chisholm and Russ Ruggiero. We’ll use modern analytical software to examine what’s happening. With the help of an online audience, we’ll reveal significant aspects of how this debt burden continues to impact public policy and the execution of federal services.<


Keynote: Robin Bloor, Ph.D., Chief Analyst and Co-Founder of The Bloor Group

Malcolm Chisholm, Ph.D., President of

Russ Ruggiero, Research Analyst, and Digital Content Publisher at<

Points of Discussion

Analysis of Mary Meeker’s report on Federal debt

Managing short and long-term expectations given the current federal and state debt

The mandatory 2-year pay freeze for Federal employees

The Federal IT efforts to move to Cloud Computing

How contractors in the private sector will be affected by potential spending cuts

The impact on the international sector

Key Questions

Why has debt risen so much?

How will the decrease in federal spending impact overall programs?

How will it affect high-federal areas such as D.C, Maryland and Virginia?

Good Quotes

  • “Sometimes it doesn’t pay to know better, because it can get depressing.” Eric
  • “Politicians are hired to know what’s going to happen.” Eric
  • In reference to blaming S&P for the credit downgrade:
  • “It’s not the wisest strategy to blame the referee, even if the referee is wrong.” Eric
  • “An area is a more desirable place to live if people are actually living in the houses.” Robin
  • “The banks simply messed up the whole of the documentation” Robin
  • “We are moving into a period of severe depression, so it’s not so much rising commodity prices we should be looking at, it’s collapsing debt that’s going to be the problem.” Robin
  • “It doesn’t seem like anybody has any idea of the consequences of what they’re doing.” Robin
  • “I don’t see wisdom in Washington.” Robin
  • “It behooves us to pay attention to who owns our debt.” Eric
  • “The whole system is not something that’s amenable to blunt policy instruments, of which there aren’t many, like keeping interest rates low.” Malcolm
  • “The whole marketplace is dominated my machines.” Malcolm
  • In reference to Wall Street: “They built a doomsday machine in there, and it’s all going to blow up one day.” Malcolm
  • “The new technology that’s changing the market environment in things like oil trading are incredibly important and incredibly misunderstood.” Malcolm
  • “It’s a failure in data management combined with a failure in the operationalization of the financial system.” Malcolm
  • “Washington has to modernize.” Russ
  • “As we look at it for the short and medium-term, we could possibly say that IT expenditures will stay stable or even increase because there’s manpower needed to deploy these solutions that will improve efficiencies within the government.” Russ
  • “People want to see quick results.” Russ
  • “If we look at Washington as a battleship, it’s a very big battleship to turn quickly.” Russ
  • “Things won’t move as quickly as one would normally think.” Russ
  • Good Insights
  • Fannie and Freddie control some 50% of home mortgages.
  • Part of the Dodd-Frank act stripped banks from using S&P and Moody’s to prove their solvency.
  • The global meltdown showed us just how interconnected we are.
  • When a bank forecloses on a house, you’ll only get 80% of the value.
  • The government is paying an historic low of 2.2% interest on its debt.
  • If interest rates go up, that’s going to magnify the amount of debt we owe.
  • 46% of our debt is owned by foreign investors and governments.
  • The credit downgrade means that we are a greater financial risk.
  • Spending for entitlement programs has increased dramatically – over 1000% change since 1965.
  • Revenue, especially corporate taxes have fallen below GDP growth
  • Income taxes go more or less in line with the economy
  • Social Security surpluses have masked true borrowing needs by $1.4 trillion; the surpluses have been used to fund other parts of federal government operations under the unified budget accounting rules
  • Public debt is predicted to rise to 146% of GDP by 2030.
  • Non-conventional mortgages equal 30% of Fannie’s total, but incur 80% of losses
  • Top foreign owners: China 10%, Japan 9%, UK 3%, Oil Exporters 3%, Brazil 2%, All Other 18%
  • We are yielding authority over ourselves to countries to whom we owe debt.
  • There are 4 main elements: the government, the central banks, main street economy, and the financial system
  • The Federal Open Market Committee announced they would keep rates at 0% for 2 years.
  • The Swiss currency is strengthening so much, they cannot export soundly.
  • Because of globalization, the US is able to capitalize on the changing value of our debtors’ currency
  • When mortgages are securitized, they are bundled up and turned into bonds and sold to insurance companies, pension plans, etc., but then they are forced to be sold through 4 different companies before put into trust.
  • Because of lack of documentation, mortgage loans are bounced around, and if they are determined to be unsound or fraudulent, they are then put back to the originator.
  • In terms of China, often the profit they make in US dollars from selling Chinese products gets reinvested into the US economy.
  • Policy changes must be made gradually over a period of time.
  • Automated trades are still determined as regular trades.
  • Credit default swaps were designed to offset the risks of an organization defaulting on its debt.
  • The Federal Budget deficit for fiscal year 2012 is expected to be $1.3 trillion, with the states likely to run a shortfall of $125 billion.
  • There are 300K federal workers in Maryland alone.
  • IT spending cuts will affect decisions to deploy or modify existing solutions such as BI, CRM, ERP and database software.
  • There’s a Federal pay freeze for 2 years, not just for federal employees under the GSA, but for all civil servants.
  • Because of budgetary constraints, we may not be able to deploy a new platform, but will have to work with vendor to beef up current platform.
  • The CBO just released a report that stated in 2011, the government spent 10% less than July 2010.
  • Expanding the use of BI tools, ERP and data can help Washington modernize.
  • IT spending could remain stable or increase, because their deployment will increase efficiency.


Contact Info:< Host: Eric Kavanagh, [email protected] – 512.426.7725

Show Manager: Rebecca Jozwiak, [email protected] – 817.320.3495

Robin Bloor, Chief Analyst, The Bloor Group: [email protected]

Keep reading →

Today’s federal government wields more financial power than ever before. Where does that money go? What will shifts in spending priorities mean to agencies, the public, and the economy at large? Which innovations are disrupting the sector?

Find out every third Wednesday @ 4 ET on “Federal Spending,” a live broadcast and analysis program produced in conjunction with Breaking Gov by Inside Analysis. Keep reading →

As Medicare funding hangs in the balance, the July 28 episode of Federal Spending, an online analysis show, examined costs and waste, options for keeping the program viable, and government initiatives aimed at driving the health care budget down.

Guest analyst Michael Haisten, Principal Consultant at Real Intelligence, said the government needs to stop creating legislative complexity around health care and start looking at economic principles to reduce the real cost.

“The two real things that make supply and demand work – perfect information and no market constraints – do not exist in our health care today,” said Haisten. Instead, he said, we’re facing an economic nightmare: excess demand and excess supply.

As if that weren’t enough, the Medicare system is also plagued with waste and fraud, two thorns that could be prevented by employing better data collection and fraud detection software. “Without good tools for sharing information, you’re never going to get a good handle on costs,” said Gary Baldwin, Editorial Director or Health Data Management.

“Going after fraud is one of the best investments our government can make.” – David Wiggin

With over 47 million people enrolled in the program – and an annual bill of $528 billion and growing – it behooves the government to keep Medicare afloat. When disaggregated from the total amount health care expenditures, Medicare consumes 14% of the federal budget. By most accounts, it is expected to be solvent until at least 2029; however, because of the baby boom bulge, the decrease in overall workforce and the escalating costs of health care, we may not have 18 years to play with.

A host of solutions have been proposed: increase the percentage of contributions, reduce benefits, raise the age of enrollment, or constrain payments. Aside from being met with resistance from Medicare recipients, none of these is a viable, long-term solution.

The Meaningful Use bill was designed to staunch the flow of fraudulent and wasteful federal dollars by incentivizing the use of electronic health records, making it possible for health care providers to access patient information across the network. “By putting in information technology tools and promoting the sharing of data instead of hoarding it, doctors and hospitals will be on the same page,” said Baldwin.

The numbers vary, but the FBI estimates that up to 10% of annual Medicare expenditures go to fraud. That’s roughly $50 billion per year. “Going after fraud is one of the best investments our government can make,” said David Wiggin, Life Sciences Director at Teradata. Unfortunately, existing methods only detect fraud after it occurs.

Wiggin explained that the best way to prevent fraudulent claim payments is to look not just at claims, but at public records databases, network/relationship analysis and clinical intelligence. “We need to integrate data form other data sources to be able to triangulate, to be able to get smarter about who these providers and who these recipients are,” said Wiggin.

Jaime Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Analytics said that for Medicare spending to be well-invested, it must not be fraudulent or wasteful. He echoed the sentiment that information technology tools are necessary to keep unnecessary spending at bay.

“If Medicare wants to run itself like a business, ” said Fitzgerald, “it needs to use data analysis for greater efficiency.”

Following are the major insights, information and quotes from the show:

The entire show can be seen at:


Michael Haisten, Principal Consultant, Real Intelligence

Gary Baldwin, Editorial Director, Health Data Management Keep reading →

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