Buzz of the Week: Doan gets blogged

Lurita Doan, the now-former administrator of the General Services Administration, has probably anchored this spot more than any other person. Often, that was because of trouble she stirred up. But, in a way, it reflects the passion she brought to the job. Someone who did not care about GSA as much as she did would have been unlikely to cause so many problems. In watching the twists and turns of events, it is easy to forget that people are involved. Reading the blogosphere last week, it was apparent that many people had lost sight of that.

Under a post headlined “Lurita Done,” a blogger for wrote, “I’m always interested to see just how much it takes to get fired from the Bush administration. You have to be either pretty good or really bad. Lurita Doan was not pretty good.”

Blogger Matthew Blake, of The Washington Independent, wrote: “That Doan would violate the Hatch Act by pressuring employees to support GOP candidates makes the most sense when considered in the context of her overall, alleged, inappropriate treatment of GSA staff…. It doesn’t look good to be considered too abrasive of a manager for George Bush, but for Doan, that may have been a cause worth getting fired for.”

Ouch! And those are some of the more lucid posts we found. Not the most accurate, but the most lucid.
Of course, Doan gave her critics plenty of fodder, even up to her final weeks when she spoke at GSA Expo last month bristling with arrows   — real ones — having survived yet another round of sharp criticism.

In the hyperpolitical environment that is Washington these days, it often is easier to demonize those we disagree with than to argue facts. Distrust becomes second nature. Often, the blogosphere seems to accentuate our divisions rather than allowing us to build trust.

Few who know Doan believe she is a right-wing political hack. Yet it is often easier to rail against a caricature than to jump in and solve tough issues.

Doan isn’t perfect, of course. Who among us is? But does anybody deserve to be treated like a caricature?

Buzz Contenders

#2: New entrant in fed blogosphere
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters became the latest top-level official to enter the expanding federal blogosphere when she published her first posting last week on Fast Lane, the Transportation Department’s official blog. Peters urged readers to register and post comments on transportation-related issues. “If I’m going to insist on 21st-century solutions for our transportation system, I better communicate in a 21st-century way!” she wrote. Peters said she will make an announcement on the blog about plans to reduce traffic congestion in the Chicago area.

#3: Speedier clearances
The process for determining who gets security clearances hasn’t changed much in 50 years. White House officials say it’s time to refresh outdated procedures that are causing unnecessary delays in putting people to work on sensitive projects.  High on the list of proposed changes is replacing periodic reinvestigations with frequent automated database checks of cleared employees.

#4: State CIOs talk money
Chief information officers swapped funding ideas last week at the National Association of State CIOs’ midyear conference. The talk was less about the weak economy and more about how the rapid pace of technology development is reshaping the way states finance information technology projects. Yearly appropriations models aren’t suitable, state IT leaders said. The best way to pay for IT upgrades is with direct appropriations that carry over into subsequent fiscal years, they said. The second-best way is through costing-sharing with the private sector, they added.

#5: Stay, boomer, stay
The demographics of the working population in the United States will make it difficult for the federal government to replace aging baby boomers as they retire, so some federal leaders are determined to find ways to entice boomers to stay. Frank Burns, deputy assistant secretary of program operations at the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration on Aging, said last week he had an answer to the federal workforce problem: “We need to replace these workers with themselves.”

Rising Stars

Meet 21 early-career leaders who are doing great things in federal IT.


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