Looking beyond the current debt crisis, the Obama Administration (and future presidents for that matter) should expect continued stiff resistance from the Congress whenever the ceiling needs to be increased. No one likes to vote for a debt ceiling increase; there’s no clear upside and plenty of down, particularly for members of Congress who were elected promising to hold the line on spending and taxes.

Moreover, the composition of our accumulated debt is incomprehensible; just seems to be a growing miasma of political toxicity – a debt blob. Notwithstanding imaginative, though apparently unworkable, short-term fixes like the platinum coin, there needs to be consideration of ideas beyond the binary choice of Congress either enacting a debt ceiling increase or failing to act and putting the nation into default. Keep reading →

For the fourth straight year, federal IT spending was about even with the prior year’s budget – and it seems very clear that trend will come to an abrupt halt in 2013. The Professional Services Council (PSC) stated the “Addressable IT Budgets” in Fiscal Year 2012 added up to $121.7 billion – a total the Council estimates will drop to $115.5 in FY13, with budgets for IT equipment expected to drop 19% in FY13.

With the so-called “fiscal cliff” looming, the new year began promptly with a deal that largely addressed the tax portion of the so-called “fiscal cliff” equation, but delayed measures addressing the spending portion of the “cliff” that include raising the debt ceiling and sequestration spending cuts. Keep reading →

A new app for Android devices called, will read your favorite Websites and blogs to you, freeing your hands (via Bluetooth) while driving. But it also holds out a promising solution to those who have difficulty seeing or reading small text on a smartphone or tablet screen.

Available free of charge through the Google Play store, Web2go, developed by Tel Aviv-based Volacent Inc., introduces what the company calls Artificial Reading Intelligence (ARI). ARI allows the application to streamline the reading process so that the app reads only the relevant text in an article, skipping over superfluous information such as long lists of menu items, photo captions on advertisements and other data points that are not part of the story or blog entry. Keep reading →

It was only a matter of time before social media’s impact in the marketplace would begin to alter the way executives go about their business in the workplace.

A new study commissioned by LinkedIn however, puts that evolution in some fresh perspective, with a look at how social media platforms are playing an increasing role in how information technology decision makers are making IT decisions. Keep reading →

The Defense Department has awarded a first of its kind joint enterprise licensing agreement for Microsoft collaboration, mobility, productivity and security tools. Valued at $617 million, the three-year agreement will allow the Army, Air Force and the Defense Information Systems Agency to begin using the latest versions of the company’s products.

The agreement creates a single framework providing all three organizations with a single, standardized way to access new Microsoft technologies. The contract also supports top DOD IT goals for data center consolidation, collaboration, cybersecurity, mobility, cloud computing and big data, company officials said in a statement. Keep reading →

A new technology with potential government applications could make computer mice and touch interfaces obsolete with the wave of a finger. Consisting of a small motion-sensing unit and software, the Leap Motion controller allows users to manipulate graphic images and other data with hand motions.

The Leap controller is the size of a smart phone and sits in front of a computer monitor where it detects hand or stylus motions in an eight cubic foot space in front of the monitor and converts them into motion in the form of manipulated graphics, game control data, robot control or many other types of interface manipulation. Keep reading →

The heads of state in three-fourths of the nations surveyed around the globe now use Twitter to communicate with followers, nearly twice the number from a year ago, according to a new report from the Digital Policy Council (DPC).

The report evaluated 164 countries (fewer than the 193 recognized by the United Nations) and found that the heads of state in 123 of those countries, or 75%, maintain a Twitter account.

That figure compares to 69 countries in an August 2011 survey, and represents a 93% compound annual growth rate since DPC started tracking the data in 2010.

“For a leader who a short time ago threatened to shut down social media services in London in the wake of rioting, Prime Minister Cameron’s reversal — ‘You’ve got to get with the programme’ — is quite telling,” the report said. Cameron now ranks 23rd on the latest list.

“The sheer popularity that social platforms like Twitter possess make it clear that traditional media channels are no longer adequate or in some cases, even effective. Leaders seek to be where their people are, and are recognizing, more than ever, that the options for communicating with their electorate have been redefined.”

Following are the top 10 heads of states using Twitter, according to the report, based on the number of followers each has attracted:

2012 Rank 2011 Rank Official (Twitter link) Country Followers (Million)
1 1 President

Barack Obama
United States 24.611
2 2 President

Hugo Chavez
Venezuela 3.802
3 11 President

Abdullah Gul
Turkey 2.576
4 4 Queen Rania

Al Abdullah
Jordon 2.459
5 8 President

Dmitry Medvedev
Russia 2.070
6 6 President

Dilma Rousseff
Brazil 1.752
7 9 President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Argentina 1.461
8 14 President

Juan Manuel Santos
Columbia 1.455
9 5 President

Enrique Pena Nieto
Mexico 1.362
10 12 Prime Minister & Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohanned bin Rashid Al Maktourn United Arab Emirates 1.343

New to the Top 10 list this year are entrants from Russia and Colombia, along with the exit of some key Twitter enthusiasts due to political administration changeovers.

Not surprisingly, U.S. President Barack Obama, whose Twitter account dates back to March 5, 2007, has amassed the widest following worldwide of any head of state.

Other early adopters, however, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who began tweeting July 11, 2007, have found only a fraction of the following (Harper had 276,060 followers in the latest ranking.)

Most of the world leaders in the rankings have generally only recently joined the social media revolution in earnest, according to data cataloged in the report, which includes information on the political stability and social media “klout” scores of world leaders.

“As digital activism becomes more intensified, it is often seen as a threat to governments, but an outcome has been the steady increase in the number of heads of state that are using Twitter, and recognizing the benefits of the vehicle to allow for direct interaction with constituents,” the report noted.

A new survey suggests apps lose value and become costly if they perform slowly, fail altogether or are overwhelmed with users. But third-party monitoring could be the solution for to save money and ensure reliability of increasingly essential government agency apps.

The Government Business Council’s “Industry Insights” survey noted that agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Veterans Affairs ran into trouble when apps were overwhelmed and shut down. Such instances, GBC notes, undermines the agency’s mission and public trust. Keep reading →

For all of the difficult and complicated issues facing the federal government in the past year, the commitment to Serving Citizens shined through.

Nine civil servants (pictured above) were awarded the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal from the Partnership for Public Service. Keep reading →

This article, from American Enterprise Institute scholar and frequent AOL contributor MacKenzie Eaglen, looks at the increasingly likely consequences of the fiscal cliff. It originally appeared as part of an Breaking Defense series of 2013 forecasts. Keep reading →

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