Tom Temin from FedInsider


Posts by Tom Temin from FedInsider

Most people take for granted the ability to blow up type on a computer so it’s easier to read. Or they don’t really notice the ubiquity of street corners with ramped sidewalks. Or that some fixtures in restrooms are set lower than the others.

Yet none of these accessibility aids for people with handicaps just happened. They represent decades of work not only to establish legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, but to make sure organizations comply and people with disabilities really do have access to what they need to live and move about independently and work productively.
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The new computing generation has burst on the federal scene in a big way. The latest manifestation is solicitations coming from two cabinet agencies.

But they remind me of a scene many years ago. I spoke at the retirement party of a federal executive who had briefly worked on a program called seat management. I joked that more people were attending the party than had signed up for seat management, and got a roar of laughter.

“Seat”, as people called it, meant a contractor would supply to federal agencies a PC and all of the required software and services, charging a per-user, per-month fee.

This article originally appeared on For more news and insights on innovations at work in government, please sign up for the AOL Gov newsletter. For the quickest updates, like us on Facebook.

Seat management, touted as the biggest thing since computers, went over like a lead balloon. But it turns out, the concept might have simply been ahead of its time.

Today, agencies one by one are putting their productivity applications in the cloud. Separately, they are providing mobile devices or letting employees bring their own under BYOD plans.

Marry cloud and BYOD and you have the 21st century version of seat management. The difference today is the seat can be in someone’s car or kitchen, at the beach or in an airplane.

About those two new request proposals demonstrating what is going on: Keep reading →

Kathy Martinez may have been blind from birth, but she sees a lot. She sees the potential in all people, regardless of whether they have a disability. She recognizes the value of accessibility technology, and she’s a promoter of its adoption. She realizes that disabilities sometimes affect minorities more profoundly than others, and works to overcome that.

As the assistant secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Martinez has a power-perch from which to help advance the idea of inclusive hiring and technology to enable people to be fully productive. She’s traveled far from the production floor of a Kwikset door lock factory where she operated a punch press. Keep reading →

Federal managers aren’t the only ones spooked by the prospect of sequestration-induced budget cuts. Contractors are worried about it too. But the potential numbers – dollars that would be cut – present a smaller problem than the lack of planning the government seems to be doing to prepare for the sequester. Unless Congress acts otherwise, a 10-year, trillion dollar cut in spending starts January 1. That’s a $100 billion a year, $50 billion for civilian agencies, $50 billion for Defense. Sequestration is more a reduction in future growth than absolute declines in spending.

In the grand scheme of things, the numbers aren’t that big. But it would be nice to know precisely where agencies are going to make their trims. It’s likely few agencies know. This is why a bill passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanding that the executive branch detail its sequestration plans.
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Back in February, senators expressed dismay at a multi-million dollar anti-fraud computer system installed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS hoped to prevent fraudulent payments, reversing its standard mode of paying, discovering and chasing after money that wrongly went out the door.

In April, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, or HEAT, from Health and Human Services, made announcements in Chicago. The Attorney General and the HHS secretary highlighted their high-tech war against CMS fraud, and announced a slew of procedural and legal changes. But most of it focused on stronger fraud penalties, prosecutions, and suspensions or debarments of Medicaid contractors. Nothing was said of the $77 million system. Keep reading →

A new computing device could revolutionize mobile federal computing. It’s super thin, has a potential battery life of close to nine hours, an ultra high resolution screen and a glass touchpad. It boots in seconds, has 4G connectivity, and it’s all wrapped in carbon fiber and aluminum for lightness and ruggedness.

It’s made by Dell. Keep reading →

Not only has cybersecurity started to take shape legislatively, cloud computing security has started to take shape administratively in a meaningful way.

You won’t find huge surprises in the grandly named Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP. The 47-page document does fill out the plan, long promised by The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration. What might be surprising is how elaborate the procedures and project plan turn out to be. Keep reading →

Chris Vein works for two prominent Obama administration officials who are always in the limelight. Consequently Vein doesn’t get a lot of publicity. If you do a search on his name, the “news” results shows very little.

And that’s all fine with Vein, the deputy Chief Technology Officer. He reports to the chief technology officer (the post Aneesh Chopra held before stepping down earlier this month) and also to John Holdren, the senior advisor to the president for Science and Technology. Both have been highly visible – and in Holdren’s case, controversial – appointees.
This article originally appeared on
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Dan Gerstein doesn’t wear khaki any more, but his career in the Army still influences his approach to his current work: practical with a touch of inspiration.

As deputy undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Homeland Security Department, Dan Gerstein helps oversee a broad array of research and development activities. The common theme, ultimately, is effectiveness of the DHS mission of homeland protection both through its own people and through first responders at all levels of government. It does this by applying R&D to both knowledge-based and technology-based solutions.
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One of the more effective members of the Obama administration, Dan Gordon guided several important cost-cutting and procurement reform initiatives. Now he is about to step down. I think it is safe to say Gordon has been one of the most consequential OFPP administrators in recent years.

He didn’t join immediately after Obama’s inauguration, but rather in September of 2009. This was when tensions between government and industry were running high. Many IT contractors felt their staffs were being raided by agencies. The administration, joined by federal employee unions, seemed to be hell-bent on pulling back work from contractors and taking it wholesale in-house. The White House was looking for across-the-board cuts in spending on contractors.
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