Could the Office of Management and Budget learn a thing or two about IT savings from California Gov. Jerry Brown?
After reading our story about Brown proposing to take cell phones away from many state employees, one reader thinks so.
"I would say that only mission critical or emergency personnel should be equipped with cell phones. He should look at computer software and hardware next. The federal government should take a clue from Jerry here."
But not everyone who commented shared that sentiment. Another unnamed reader called Brown's order "political action for the sake of action without consideration of the consequences."
That commenter drew a parallel to war, in which taking out an enemy's communications is always part of the goal of an attack.
"Here the governor is hoping for a positive result from the same action, only this time he is attacking state employees and their ability to do their jobs," the reader wrote. "Perhaps the governor can do his job without a phone or computer? The state employee[s are] very good at what they do every day but to take away the communication in this day in age is not the proper action to save the state money."
What do you think? Should fewer federal employees carry government-provided mobile phones? Or should more? What about technology updates -- do federal employees need to get their refreshes faster, or could they wait a little longer between hardware and operating system upgrades?
In this era of cost-cutting, there's a good chance that managers are already asking these questions, or will be soon. What do you think?
Posted on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:18 PM51 comments
Why is the federal employee suddenly a scapegoat?
For the past few months, we've been hearing a litany of complaints: Federal workers are overpaid, lazy and too numerous, come the cries from some quarters.
None of these claims hold up well under scrutiny. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that federal employees are paid less than their private-sector candidates in many jobs. No credible studies really call the capabilities or dedication of federal employees into question. And whether the workforce needs to be reduced seems to be more a matter of opinion than fact.
But the current political climate holds some clues. Conservative candidates won elections last year on platforms of drastically cutting federal spending, and while federal employees don't really account for a whole lot of that, the cliche of the overpaid and incompetent bureaucrat plays well with some constituencies.
We're hopeful that, over time, the spending-cutters will find new and better-chosen targets for their efforts. Meanwhile, federal employees will endure a freeze on raises and attempts to legislate a smaller federal workforce. It's happened before, and we're confident that they'll do just fine.
Posted on Jan 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM0 comments
Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to cut costs
at the Defense Department illustrate a perfect example of spending money to make -- or save -- money.
Consider data center consolidation. It's no simple matter. It takes strategic planning to figure out where to consolidate and what centers to close. There's a logistical component, whether physically moving servers from one location to another or adding new network infrastructure to connect data centers and end users. It can be a time to refresh the technology (i.e. buy shiny new machines).
And yet Gates expects the Army alone to save millions of dollars annually through such consolidation. The savings come because once that initial outlay is made and the changes are done, the operation is much more efficient. Fewer machines, drawing less power and requiring less cooling, do more computing.
Gates' plan offers several other examples of consolidating resources to achieve savings, including a departmentwide inititaive to consolidate the IT infrastructures that each military base has into enterprise systems.
Technology has caught up with the government's widespread presence. Today it's possible to run the IT infrsatructure needed to serve multiple facilities at one central location, with the facilities linked in over high-speed data connections. We couldn't always do this, but the past few years have seen an acceleration of efforts to make it happen.
With luck, Gates will succeed and his plan will become a blueprint for other agencies seeking to modernize and cut spending at the same time. A leaner, less costly government that is still fully capable to deliver needed services could be the result.
Posted on Jan 07, 2011 at 12:18 PM1 comments