ICYMI: Building Trust in Gov’t While Seeing New Reasons to Distrust It, More…

From the last week, stories on how we can restore trust in government even as we see more reasons to distrust it. One way to begin trusting it may be to get more smart people working to solve our omnipresent public sector technology challenges. Or maybe it’s possible that we can become – as David Brooks hopes – more trusting people.

America’s 21st Century Challenge” (Eric Pianin & Rob Garver/Fiscal Times)

Pull Quote: “While both the Bush and Obama administrations can rightly claim some administrative and governmental reforms, the first two years of President Obama’s final term have revealed just how much work remains. The country has been forced to endure an embarrassing parade of federal contracting, procurement and management misdeeds:

  • Billions of dollars of waste, fraud and improper spending, especially at the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security—two agencies with two of the largest budgets.
  • Renegade operations within the Internal Revenue Service to target Tea Party and other politically active groups.
  • Outrageous management practices at Veterans Affairs Department medical centers, including forcing patients to wait weeks or even months for an appointment that cost some vets their lives.
  • Poor overall monitoring of the performance of government workers and contractors.
  • An appalling lack of competent in-house technological and IT savvy that could have saved the Obama administration from its humiliating on-line rollout of the Affordable Care Act in October 2013.
  • And to top it off, let’s not forget the astonishing lapses of the Secret Service in protecting President Obama and the First Family, which could have resulted in a national disaster – more than once.

While not all of this can be laid at Obama’s doorstep, it remains his job to fix it.”


Mikey Dickerson to SXSW: Why We Need You in Government” (Mikey Dickerson /Medium)

PQ: We looked around and found some really surprising things. One was that there was no monitoring of the production system. For those of you that run large distributed systems, you will understand that this is as if you are driving a bus with the windshield covered. Second was that there were hundreds of people and dozens of companies involved, but nobody in charge. Third was that there was no particular urgency about the situation. As I would come to understand, nobody was acting like there was anything out of the ordinary because there was nothing out of the ordinary.

The whole system had worked as normal and produced the expected result, which was a web site that was overpriced by hundreds of millions of dollars and did not work, at all.”


Living the High Life After Congress” (Michael Winship/Huffington Post)

PQ: This is what ex-members of Congress and their staffs do nowadays. Rarely do they follow the example of ancient Rome’s Cincinnatus and go back to the farm — or take that teaching job at the local university or join a hometown law practice. They stay in DC to reap the bountiful harvest that comes from Capitol Hill experience and good old fashioned cronyism.

As a result of November’s midterm elections and retirements, at the beginning of the year nearly 50 members of the House and a dozen senators got the old heave-ho but competition for their services within the Beltway was, as The National Law Journal reported, “hot.”


The Moral Bucket List” (David Brooks/New York Times)

PQ: “It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”