In the State of Washington, citizens have another way to interact with their legislators through a new online commenting system launched last week. Constituents now have the ability to click a link on the bill’s webpage and provide comments. The website automatically determines the constituent’s district and sends a message to the corresponding legislators. Nice.
One wonders why this kind of thing isn’t more prevalent. The technology is not that complex, and the benefits are evident. Why hasn’t this approach been adopted nationally? I suspect behind this initiative is a “champion” within the state government. A person who just “couldn’t let this go” and was willing to step up and lead the effort.
Identifying and supporting champions are a key to success in government contracting. As you talk with friends and acquaintances within government, ask them to identify the “go-getters” within their agency. Find out who has a passion for a particular pet project and why. This person may not hold the grandest title. But, he/she may just have the drive, desire and influence to get things done. If you can show this type of person how you can solve a problem and help them achieve their goal, you’re well on your way to a successful government sale.
President Obama just signed into law a bill averting the much discussed fiscal cliff. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get back to work as government contractors, right? Well, yes and no. First, the “no” side of the equation. Though bypassing a looming crisis, Congress postponed dealing with some of the key issues that spawned all this fiscal cliff stuff in the first place. Our leaders deferred the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts (known as “sequestration”) for two months. Further, they didn’t raise the debt ceiling even though the Treasury technically hit the $16.4 trillion limit Monday. These things we’ll need to be addressed just about the time the continuing budget resolution runs out and a new budget battle will be underway. Looks like more fireworks are in our future.
Now the “yes, we can get back to work” side of the equation. While an environment of uncertainty such as has been created by the fiscal cliff battle can certainly have a negative impact on programs, I can assure you the federal government isn’t going away anytime soon. It will still buy billions of dollars worth of stuff every day–hopefully some of it from you. The main point: uncertainty is nothing new to experienced contractors. There is always a cloud of precariousness hanging over government contractors: funding battles, continuing resolutions, political turnover, contract expirations, bid protests, etc. All of these serve to make government markets a bit rocky. It’s something you deal with and navigate, meanwhile being thankful for the good characteristics like long-term contracts, and a customer that pays religiously.
So, amidst all the turmoil and uncertainty, just do what you do best. Build relationships, solve problems, create value. Do it well and you’ll build bridges across this and any future “cliffs” that may lie ahead.
A technology client recently asked us to summarize our opinions on key trends in federal government contracting. We were happy to do so…and share the benefits of this with you. Here are several key trends we’re seeing in government contracting:
- More emphasis on shared technology and infrastructure (i.e. cloud computing)
- More justification that the chosen procurement vehicle is the best approach of all available contracts
- More firm fixed-price (FFP) contracts
- Greater emphasis mobility and working from home (teleworking)
- Greater focus on IT security given more mobility and teleworking
Technology is driving many of these things as access, sharing, mobility, security, and other related trends converge. We also don’t believe the election outcome will change the trajectory of any of these trends in a significant way.
What do you think? What trends are you seeing that support or contradict this list?
Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)
As covered by Government Technology, law enforcement is taking social media seriously. A recent survey of law enforcement agencies shows most agencies use social media, and almost all agencies are interested in using sites like Facebook and Twitter to solve crimes. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Center for Social Media released its third-annual social media survey on Oct. 2, revealing social media is a fast-growing trend in law enforcement.
Nearly 62 percent of the 600 agencies polled claimed to have a written social media policy, whereas two years ago only 35 percent claimed to have such a policy in place. More agencies said they believe social media helps improve community relations and help solve crimes than two years ago.
Overall, it appears that almost all law enforcement agencies are either using social media or interested, with 92 percent of agencies claiming to use social media sites, with nearly 70 percent of those not using social media planning to begin using it within the next year.
According to an article on GovTech, E-government approval has reached an all-time high, government analytics firm ForeSee announced July 24.
On a 100-point scale used by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the second quarter of this year earned a score of 75.6, taken from 300,000 surveys. The rating is up from 75.2 last quarter and up from a score of 70.9 in 2003.
Despite steady progress in satisfaction with government websites, the firm said there is still much room for improvement.
“Customers already interact with friends, family, companies and brands on multiple platforms. As consumers access the Web from mobile devices in greater numbers, it is natural for them to expect to interact no differently with the government,” ACSI Founder Claes Fornell said in a press release. “The federal government needs to connect with its users on multiple platforms or risk alienating them.”
The three websites with the highest user satisfaction rates are from the Social Security Administration: iClaim (92), Retirement Estimator (90), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (90).
With more than 91 million smartphone mobile devices in the country, states are pursuing the development of mobile applications to meet citizen needs (discussed in Govtech here).
According to a February 2012 survey of 100 members of GovTech Exchange, an online community of senior-level IT pros from state and local government, many states are already moving forward. The survey found that 38 percent of respondents planned to launch new mobile offerings within 12 months. Of those planning new deployments, 55 percent said they will use development approaches that allow a single source of content to be viewed by multiple device types and operating systems. Roughly half said they’ll create the apps using in-house developers, while the other half planned to work with outside developers.
More than a decade ago, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognized the need for changes to the nation’s 911 systems.
The old systems had their jobs for decades, but in a world of wireless calling and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), the country needed more accommodating technology. Enter the concept of next-generation 911 (NG911), a system that would run on a secure Internet protocol-based network and allow texting, data transfer and more.
Since then, a generation of youngsters has grown up texting pals not only with words, but with pictures and videos as well. In fact, a 2011 Pew Internet survey found that 73 percent of cellphone users text, and nearly one-third of them would rather text than talk. In addition, many people with hearing and speech disabilities have abandoned TTY in favor of text messaging. Despite this phenomenon, just a small number of the nation’s 911 call centers run on secure emergency services IP-based networks, and just a handful of the centers have piloted technologies that allow the public to text 911.
So what’s taking so long?
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