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And the contestants are…
You may recall our write-up on Federal Computer Week’s first-ever battle of the bands: GIT Rockin’. This is a networking event where government information technology professionals will boogie onstage to benefit the United Services Organization. Well, a panel of judges, which included people from FCW and industry partners, selected the five acts that will square off Thurs., Oct. 19, at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Va.

The bands and their government IT affiliations are:

  • The Black Cat Blues Band — ASM Research, Maden Technologies, Department of Veterans Affairs and Kforce.
  • The Fabulous Dialtones — Hughes Network Systems, Qwest Communications International, General Dynamics and the Army.
  • Full Mesh — Juniper Networks.
  • The Mike Cotter Band — the U.S. Mint and the House of Representatives.
  • Pasaporte Latino — Voice of America and the Organization of American States.
Public Printer honored for being a good boss
The Council for Excellence in Government has recognized Public Printer Bruce James for nurturing the Government Printing Office’s leaders as they guide the agency’s maturation from a printing press operation into a 21st-century digital information pipeline.

The award is presented to a sponsor of the council’s Excellence in Government Fellows Program, a 12-month leadership training and succession planning tool for agency managers. Each year, James sends senior executives through the boot camp to accelerate GPO’s transformation.

Effort to translate governmentese into English doesn’t make the grade
Government information is no good if it doesn’t make sense. Consider the muddled language found throughout the online Code of Federal Regulations.

Earlier this month, the government tried to revise some of its gobbledygook for the CFR section on employee conduct. A final rule on employee responsibilities and conduct, published in the Federal Register, states that “OPM is issuing a plain-language rewrite of its regulations regarding the standards that govern employee responsibilities and conduct as part of a review of certain OPM regulations. The purpose of the revisions is to make the regulations more readable.”

However, OPM’s execution doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. The final version is nearly identical to the original wording:

Here, for example, is the initial language for Section 735.201 on gambling:

(a) While on Government-owned or leased property or while on duty for the Government, an employee shall not conduct, or participate in, any gambling activity including the operation of a gambling device, conducting a lottery or pool, a game for money or property, or selling or purchasing a numbers slip or ticket.

(b) This section does not preclude activities:

    (1) Necessitated by an employee’s official duties; or

    (2) Under Section 7 of Executive Order 12353 and similar agency-approved activities.

The new language for Section 735.201:

What are the restrictions on gambling?

(a) While on Government-owned or leased property or on duty for the Government, an employee shall not conduct or participate in any gambling activity, including operating a gambling device, conducting a lottery or pool, participating in a game for money or property, or selling or purchasing a numbers slip or ticket.

(b) This section does not preclude activities:

    (1) Necessitated by an employee’s official duties; or

    (2) Occurring under Section 7 of Executive Order 12353 and similar agency-approved activities. We’re certainly glad that’s cleared up.

Data mining, Capitol Hill style
A computer analysis of lawmakers’ diatribes shows that from 1997 to 2004, they increasingly focused on the judicial nomination process. Political science researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation, discovered the trend by applying data-mining technology to the Congressional Record.

Previously, most efforts to analyze the attention spans of elected representatives involved hand coding. The Congressional Record was off-limits because the publication contains too much information to process manually.

The study, released in July, demonstrates that it is now possible to gain insight into lawmakers’ agendas through search technology.

The team of researchers, who hail from Harvard University, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, state in their paper: “We describe here a method for inferring, through the patterns of word choice in each speech and the dynamics of word choice patterns across time, (a) what the topics of speeches are and (b) the probability that attention will be paid to any given topic or set of topics over time.”

According to the researchers, the findings indicate that the percentage of speeches on “judicial nominations” appears to have increased just before the 2002 election, when it looked like Republicans would retake the Senate, allowing President Bush more freedom to appoint conservative judges.

“The record-holding debate in our data — the most words on one issue in a single ‘day’ of the Congressional Record — was on this topic and actually spread over two days in the real world,” the paper states.

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