The entries are in, and the most recentFCW caption contest drew an astounding number and variety of ideas. At the time of this writing, 77 people took the time to submit a caption for the drawing featured below. As would be expected, there were a sizable (33) number of entries that featured a reference to telework or working from home, but there were some surprises among the other themes that were featured. Here are some of the entries that caught my eye, followed by the "winners," a highly subjective list chosen by our judging panel of one.
Number of people who requested not to have their name or email included if their caption was chosen for fear of being caught being creative on agency time:
Number of captions referencing a government shutdown:
Number of captions including a Bill or Hillary Clinton reference:
Christmas (in March?) references:
Number of captions with a deathbed or last will reference:
The caption that leaves me unsure of whether I want to fly into Dulles (submitted by Rick Flanagan):
"The Dulles telework center."
The best sexually frustrated male caption (submitted by Tom):
"Don't apologize for scheduling this meeting. This is the most action my bedroom has seen in awhile."
The caption that stands the scariest chance of becoming policy (submitted by Paula):
"In an effort to reduce federal employee benefits, they have implemented Tele-Sick, where you can be sick in bed and still work. Each employee is now required to have ergonomic chairs, a whiteboard and a tempurpedic mattress in their bedroom in order to qualify."
The best anti-telework caption (submitted by Kate):
“We all thought our manager would bend on the telework issue when she was confined to bed rest. Boy, were we wrong!"
Right-wing jab (submitted by anonymous):
"Once upon a time the President said we will create more jobs and reduce the deficit ..."
Left-wing jab (submitted by LiberALL):
"Don't you dare complain about this to me -- you're the one who voted for the Tea Party to downsize government!"
Best caption if edited (submitted by Ralph Buck, shortened by me):
"Just ignore Harry, he's on an alternative work schedule."
Number of captions playing off of "let's put this project to bed":
My favorite pun caption (submitted by anonymous in Williamsburg):
"You're sure lying next to him qualifies as a HubZone?"
And the top runners-up, in no particular order:
"Thank you all for coming in on such short notice. Don’t mind Harold. He’s not a stakeholder."
-- Shelby in Washington D.C.
"Perhaps my role in this project is too 'pivotal'..."
-- Brandon Jubar in Washington D.C.
"So, Greg, How'd that CDC study on absenteeism among teleworkers go over on the hill?"
“So, to review our virtualization plan: As ISSO, Terry here goes into the cloud first, we wait for the green light from him, and then the rest of the team gets an Ambien, a cookie and a bedtime story.”
-- Michelle in Washington D.C.
"Let's do this quickly, I don't want to keep you from your families."
"Sweetie I really think it's time that we finally get a computer."
-- Jim McKinnon in Odessa, Texas
"It has come to my attention that in many knowledge areas we may be one deep."
And the No. 1 entry, submitted by Tamira in Auburn, Wash.:
"I put the printer in the bathroom so we wouldn't wake Dave."
Posted on Apr 07, 2011 at 9:03 AM0 comments
I have been drawing cartoons for Federal Computer Week since the late 1900s. In that time I've noticed several subjects becoming regular topics for cartoons, among them telecommuting, contractor-agency relationships, management-employee relationships and security issues. But no one subject has been addressed in the cartoons as much as the Fed 100, the FCW awards that recognize government and industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in the federal government IT community.
In past years I have drawn cartoons timed with the announcement for nominations. I have drawn cartoons to accompany the announcement of the winners. I have drawn cartoons to run at the time of the dinner. I have drawn cartoons to address post-awards sentimentalities. I'm not sure, but I even might have even drawn a cartoon about Fed 100 ceremonies in other galaxies. (No, I haven't.)
So this year my editor and I were having our bi-weekly discussion on upcoming cartoon topic possibilities when he mentioned the Fed 100 issue was upon us, and he was planning on running a page consisting of some of the better Fed 100 cartoons I've done in the past. In gratitude, I may have mentioned that yeah, I think I've run out of Fed 100 ideas. In a move that demonstrates the immeasurable value of good editor skills, he said, "Why don't we have a caption contest?" I can't sing his praises loudly enough.
The below illustration is without a funny, insightful, or just plain absurd caption. Please submit your ideas here as comments and I’ll announce the best in the next month or so. But not during the Fed 100.
Need a closer look? Click for a larger image.
Posted on Mar 17, 2011 at 12:19 PM80 comments
There's an old saying that if you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Does that mean that if you're an auditor every relationship looks like fraud, waste or abuse?
This came to mind while watching a Feb. 1 hearing on improving federal contract auditing by the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. As described on its website, "the hearing examined how federal agencies use contract audits to detect and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in government contracts. In particular, the hearing reviewed the findings of the subcommittee’s ongoing investigation of the type and number of contract audits at federal agencies. The hearing also examined the role played by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) in performing contract audits for agencies other than the Defense Department."
Not being an expert in federal contract auditing, I found the hearing very informational. I learned that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who oversaw the hearing, is a former state auditor. I also learned that former state auditors do not think highly of contracting officials. Why do I think that? Maybe because McCaskill said "contracting officers lose objectivity because they get too friendly with the contractors they oversee and build connections with the companies as business partners, and therefore lighten up on tough independent supervision." Maybe because she also said, "Auditors don’t have that relationship, which makes them stick to their impartiality in ways the contracting officer could not."
Why the need for this fed-on-fed attack? I'm not sure, but I think being an auditor means you have to have a thick skin, developed from years of not being treated well on your job. As McCaskill put it, "The biggest lie ever told to me as a state auditor was 'Gosh, we're glad to see you.'"
As a former auditor, the senator admitted some bias. In questioning representatives from the departments of Education, Energy and Defense, the General Services Administration, the Government Accountability Office, the Project of Government Oversight and a lawyer speaking on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she made it clear that contracting officers were not allowed at the adults' table. As she put it, "Contracting officers should stick to auditors’ conclusions on contract pricing to keep the officers' perhaps impaired judgment out of the negotiations."
It's not as if auditors don't have any problems. As pointed out in the hearing, federal auditors have their own issues: They are understaffed, undertrained and overworked. Anecdotes were shared of agencies hiring higher-priced, private-sector firms in order to get audits done in a more timely fashion.
I am not belittling McCaskill's impressive work in searching for waste, fraud and abuse – it is a large task. A recent GAO report estimates $125 billion in improper payments – that is, payments that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount – governmentwide. (As another old saying goes, you save a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.)
But I'm not sure her pitting one agency against another is the most productive solution. As participants in the hearing and several commenters have pointed out, the procurement process requires participation from multiple participants, who all make their decisions with feedback from each other. It seems to me that the best way to solve the problem is not to shut down one of the central players based on personal generalities. Instead, it is to bring more transparency to the process and improve training or oversight.
Either that or wait until a former contracting officer is elected to the senate and gets named to the subcommittee.
Posted on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:19 PM0 comments