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The 5 people you meet in CIO heaven

NASA CIO Linda Cureton based a recent blog post on the book "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom. Cureton describes five people a CIO can learn from. Although she changed the names, it appears her choices are real people with whom she's worked or interacted.

She mixes positive and negative examples, showing that it's possible to learn from all kinds of experiences. For example, she recounts a late-night call to a virtual private network provider's help desk. The technician she spoke with was on a mobile phone in a car with his children. He was rude and abrasive. But later, she was able to use that as an example of how not to provide customer service.

"As we now deploy the Enterprise Service Desk at the NASA Shared Services Center, I rewind the tape and try to keep in my mind the perspective of the customer," she writes. "Sometimes help desks care more about closing a ticket to meet the resolution response time than about customer care and fulfillment. Dave cared more about himself and his situation than about mine. The company he worked for cared more about response time than about the efficacy of being able to resolve problems from the front seat of a car. Customer service isn’t the same as being self-serving."

FCC takes a new stab at open government
FCC Reboot blog

The Federal Communications Commission's "Reboot" blog came to an end at its current address, only to be rebooted on a new site, FCC officials say the change marks a renewed effort to provide a steady flow of information.

In the last entry at the old site, Steven VanRoekel, FCC's managing director, writes, "Look across the landscape of government websites, and you see a common phenomenon: A dot-gov site at rest stays at rest. Our own is proof enough. What was hailed in the late 1990s as one of the leading federal websites has sprawled out over time, moving with the organizational changes of the FCC, but largely resisting the outside forces of technical evolution and consumer expectations."

The new site, whose design is based in part on an analysis of reader behavior on the old site, will feature a better search engine, easier access to visitors' most common activities and other enhancements. And VanRoekel promises that more changes will come in short order.

"With the launch of the new, we’re proving that Washington can keep up with the speed of the Web, implementing today's tools with an eye to tomorrow's innovations," he writes.

What I want on Earth Day

On Earth Day 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson applauded the progress the United States has made since the first Earth Day 41 years ago. But she also pointed out that much work remains and new challenges are cropping up.

She linked to a series of YouTube videos in which people talk about their greatest concerns and ambitions for the environment.

"To continue making progress today, we need to do the same thing our predecessors did 41 years ago: Come together and work to make a difference," she writes. "There are new and extraordinary ways for you to make a difference. As EPA administrator, what I want this Earth Day is your help in this important work."

Earth Team skills on display
USDA blog

The Agriculture Department commemorated Earth Day on April 22 with a post celebrating the volunteer Earth Team members who work alongside USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on conservation projects in local areas.

In particular, blogger Jayme Gordon highlighted Mike and Jill Viafore, who built a model house that showcases ways to minimize the effects of rainwater runoff on streams. The Pierce Conservation District Stream Team, a volunteer group based in Puyallup, Wash., is using the model for various demonstrations.

"With the easily transported house, Stream Team volunteers can now show people ways they can minimize the impact of stormwater on local streams using rain barrels and rain gardens," Gordon writes.

The barrels capture rainwater, which can then be used to water gardens and lawns during drier periods. In addition to being attractive, rain gardens filter stormwater through layers of soil as it in drains into aquifers.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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