Critical Read

10 reports worth a second look


FCW reporters and editors read a lot of reports from government agencies, watchdog groups and trade associations to try to bubble up the most interesting, thoughtful, and timely material for our readership of federal IT professionals and the vendors they work with. Here’s a look at 10 of the most interesting Critical Read pieces we published in 2013.

1. Better metrics needed for security clearance process: The Government Accountability Office takes a hard look at how the government manages security clearance reviews and renewals. The issue took on added urgency in 2013 with the Navy Yard attack by an IT contractor, and the leak of classified intelligence material by contractor Edward Snowden.

2. The price of NSA surveillance for cloud providers: In a prescient report, Dan Castro at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation tries to assess the potential financial impact of U.S. network surveillance on cloud providers looking to compete in the global marketplace.

3. GAO's call to action in IT management: David A. Powner’s testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee calls for more transparency and visibility into federal IT projects. Powner’s prognosis of what’s lacking in the oversight of large-scale IT projects is worth a second look in light of the buggy launch of

4. A contracting how-to for agency leaders: The IBM Center for the Business of Government offers an indispensable primer on the procurement process for government workers, vendors and reporters who cover federal contracting.

5. Feds' job satisfaction continues to dive: The release of the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey was delayed because of the partial government shutdown in October. The plunging morale among feds indicate that pay freezes and furloughs are taking their toll.

6. Performance management and budgeting: A report from the Partnership for Public Service on the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 found that government agencies aren’t keeping pace with demands to use performance data to drive business decisions and budgeting.

7. Losing the tech talent sweepstakes: A Ford Foundation report identifies compensation and workplace culture as two reasons the public sector and non-profits are failing to attract and retain talented entry level IT workers.

8. Getting government into high gear: An IBM study looks at operational fixes and training improvements that could help government quicken the tempo of operations.

9. Is FISMA enough: A MeriTalk study finds that the security framework for government cloud providers under the Federal Information Security Management Act might not be sufficient to mitigate threats to federal networks.

10. CIO Council offers social media privacy advice: This set of best practices is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the best practices government employees are supposed to employ when using Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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