How much would I have to pay you to smash a thermometer and drink its mercury, right now? “A lot”, you are probably thinking, but you have a price. One hit of thermometer mercury isn’t going to kill you. You’d probably Google “mercury poisoning,” make a guess about your risk tolerance, and get back to… Keep reading →


Republican Congressmen have opened up a new line of attack on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan by drawing attention to the threat the plan could cause to manatees who enjoy the warm water discharged from one of Florida’s biggest coal fired power plants. Manatees, Florida’s state marine mammal, are gentle, slow-moving, herbivorous creatures commonly called… Keep reading →

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has contracted with Lockheed Martin and Microsoft to migrate the email and collaboration systems supporting approximately 25,000 employees to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 system, according to a joint announcement released by Lockheed Martin and Microsoft today.

The collaboration and communication service is expected to improve EPA employees’ access to communications and mobility tools and result in expected savings of $12 million over the four-year contract period. Keep reading →

The Department of Labor has emerged as a leader in transforming crucial information buried in online PDF files or impenetrable government websites into new applications that widely distribute government data. Keep reading →

Several weeks back, at a GTRA Council Meeting, I heard my former CIO at EPA, Malclom Jackson, talk about “Developing a Secure Mobile-First Culture – the EPA’s Story.”

Among other points, he announced an “aggressive and accelerated procurement for new EPA collaboration tools”: one month to advertise, one month to decide, and four months to implement, so it is ready by November. Malcolm deserves credit on a number of fronts for pushing these ideas forward and quickly.

But it also reminded of a point about government that I experienced many times during my 30-plus years of government service at EPA: namely, senior managers in government repeat work that has been done in the past either because they do not know about it or choose to ignore it and start from scratch again.

I asked him if he was also working on the two functions that I had found important in my experience with doing this, provisioning content and dealing with limited bandwidth, and he said they were.

But I know from my experience at EPA that those two things are not going to happen in a short period of time. It took me three years to prepare EPA’s best content in a collaboration tool that supports limited bandwidth use on both desktop and mobile devices.

In my government experience, the 90-9-1 rule applies… only 1% will really use (new tools) and be doers and evangelists.”

I would have also felt better about what Jackson announced if he had mentioned it supported and followed the standards outlined by Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel in his Building a Digital Government Strategy.

One can do these things from the top down: That is, respond to the need for collaboration tools for an agency that work on mobile devices, procure them and hope that the employees put their content in them.

Or one can work from the bottom up: Use what employees are already using to put their content in to collaborate with others and see if those tools will scale up and federate.

We have all seen organizations procure yet another set of collaboration tools, only to then have a massive migration problem with legacy content and users still continue to use their tools of choice. For example, mobile has evolved from “This is the only tool we offer” (e.g. BlackBerry) to now Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) (e.g. iPhones, iPads, etc.)

So what should Malcolm and others in his situation do?

First, I would go around asking and looking for what has already been done and ask the real productive people at EPA, who are collaborating with others inside and outside the agency, what they are using (at EPA or outside of EPA) or would use if they had permission, and encourage others at EPA to try those pockets of excellence first.

Keep reading →

This headline above – from a Commerce Department apps challenge hosted on Challenge.gov – attracted my attention. So I decided to take the challenge to develop apps using the 2010 Census Summary File 1 and the American Community Survey (five-year data). Keep reading →

This is one in a regular series on the latest innovation in mobile apps and mobile technology in the federal government.

With secure mobile technology for federal workers and innovative citizens services via mobile devices, the Environmental Protection Agency aims to increase its public profile and incorporate mobile applications into daily operations. Keep reading →

Environmental Protection Agency Chief information Officer Malcolm Jackson has embarked on a six-month, rapid-deployment plan to contract and implement a new email and collaboration platform to help improve work processes for EPA employees.

“We’re ripping the Band-aid off,” declared Jackson, acknowledging the initiative “is aggressive; it’s really aggressive.” Keep reading →

US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson (pictured above) announced the Apps for the Environment Challenge on June 9–and almost five months to the day, the winners were announced at a forum at the Artisphere in Arlington, Va. The winner of the best overall app was the Light Bulb Finder developed by Andrea Nyland of the Eco Hatchery which helps consumers select and buy-online light bulbs that are more energy efficient while still providing the desired brightness.

Master of ceremonies Chris Dorobek welcomed a capacity crowd to the Artisphere and said that in a time when many are very dissatisfied with government, this event showed why we should like government. Keep reading →

Let’s face it — if your government agency does not have an online presence, especially in the realm of social media, both the public and your agency are missing out.

Social media provides unprecedented levels of engagement. It can spur discussion, generate rapid feedback and encourage participation. Keep reading →

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