Monthly Archives: May, 2011

USPS-canine relations still troubled


Yep, dogs do occasionally bite, and there are plenty of mail carriers who can attest to it, according to new U.S. Postal Service rankings that put Houston at the head of the pack (lame wordplay totally intended). For at least the fourth straight year, the Texas city led the country in hostile dog-carrier encounters with 62 in 2010. Runners-up were San Diego and Columbus, Ohio, with 45 each, followed by Los Angeles with 44 and Louisville, Ky., with 40. In all, 5,669 postal workers were attacked last year, and the medical expenses cost the Postal Service almost $1.2 million. If you’re looking…

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson: It's the little things


GSA administrator Martha Johnson said small changes can add up to big savings at the annual Coalition for Government Procurement partnership dinner May 11. She said if GSA increased its average fuel economy of the 60,000 cars it purchases every year, it could save $4 million dollars and 1 million gallons of gas annually. “Right now agencies face a budget that is far from certain,” Johnson said. She added agencies can help offset smaller budgets by operating more efficiently and by making small but fundamental changes in how they operate, such as buying collectively, increasing fuel economy or reducing space…

GSA to provide agencies free virtual meeting space


Agencies will have free access to the General Services Administration’s 15 virtual meeting centers starting the end of the month. The five Washington-area centers were completed last month and others in Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo; Fort Worth, Texas; Denver; San Francisco and Seattle will soon be completed. An hourly fee to use the telepresence centers won’t kick in until Sept. 30, giving agencies a grace period to test the technology. That fee is not expected to exceed $500 an hour per room, or the cost of some public centers. The online scheduling portal used…

Apple is a model for GSA customer service


The General Services Administration’s acquisition arm could learn a thing or two about customer service from Apple, Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Steve Kempf said Tuesday at a training conference in San Diego. Following a morning keynote by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak at the GSA Training Conference and Expo, Kempf noted the partnership between Wozniak and Steve Jobs that birthed the Apple revolution and a loyal customer base. “At FAS, we want to have a partnership with industry partners and customers that’s like Apple” and its customers, Kempf said. “Think about the way people look at Apple products.” Customers clamor for…

Zients: going public soon


It’s not like the folks who run and other celebrity web sites have much to worry about, but federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients probably made a select group of people quite happy today with the news that is likely going public within a few weeks. The site, intended as the electronic linchpin of the Obama administration’s performance tracking efforts, has been up since last summer, but only to federal employees with passwords. Its public debut has been eagerly anticipated in management circles, but repeatedly postponed. Exactly why has been a bit murky, but Shelley Metzenbaum, associate director…

GSA Training Conference and Expo 2011 underway in San Diego


The General Services Administration kicked off its annual training conference this year with a speech from GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Johnson said the General Services Administration has been pushing hard to become more sustainable, efficient and offer more valuable services within the federal government. She said federal workers are doing grade A work. “We’re the A-team, we want to be on the A agenda doing the A work for this country,” Johnson said. She added that federal agencies will have to push even harder to be on the forefront of innovation and change. Wozniak recounted…

Results on APWU contract vote coming tomorrow


In case anyone’s forgotten, tomorrow will be a big day for the American Postal Workers Union and the U.S. Postal Service. That’s when they find out whether APWU members have approved a tentative contract that would run to May 2015. Ballots were due back this morning at designated post office boxes; once they’re counted tomorrow at a Washington, D.C.-area hotel, the results will be posted on the APWU’s web site, according to the union. The tentative deal, which would establish a two-tier wage system, has been strongly endorsed by the leaders of both the Postal Service and the APWU. But…

Shrinking budgets among CIOs' top concerns, survey finds


Inadequate budgets, conflicting priorities among program units and little time for strategic planning are among the top barriers to federal chief information officers increasing their effectiveness, according to a TechAmerica survey released Wednesday. The annual survey, conducted by Grant Thornton, includes interview responses from 46 CIOs and their deputies, congressional staff and other government officials. CIOs at the General Services Administration, Social Security Administration and the Veteran Affairs Department were among the participants. In the face of shrinking budgets, lowering costs, integrating systems and processes and addressing security and privacy concerns ranked as CIOs’ top budget priorities. One CIO recommended…

In a twist, USPS contracting system needs tailoring, audit finds


When it comes to information technology projects, federal agencies have a reputation for tacking on so many one-of-a-kind requirements that the end product ends up over budget, behind schedule or both. The U.S. Postal Service, though, seems to have a contrary problem: its primary contract management system needs more customization, not less. That system is riddled with errors, the USPS inspector general concluded in a newly released report. Out of a sample of 139 contracting actions worth almost $2.1 billion, 137 had mistakes in such basic fields as “award type” and “contract effective date.” Some of the mistakes in what is officially…

Osama Bin Laden reported dead


Multiple news outlets are reporting that Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a mansion near Islamabad. President Obama will be giving a speech later tonight. CNN is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden is calling senior members of Congress to tell them the news of Bin Laden’s death.