the antideficiency act is the law currently being invoked for having government employees not work. essentially is says that no one can commit the government to an expense without first having money to spend, as authorized by congress. it came up 120 odd years ago, because there were emergency cases where the executive branch spent money without first asking congress, then congress had to come up w/ the money after the fact; essentially obligating the government to spend something before full and democratic debate. a complete understanding of the antideficiency act is found on the GAO web site. a couple of recent articles in slate.com and CNBC.com do a reasonable job of describing why most federal employees can’t work during the shutdown.
there are all kinds of caveats here and this is not meant to legal review. the basic issue invoked, is that a federal employee cannot volunteer for federal work, because that would be considered obligating the government for payment outside of congressional authority.
i began reflecting on this issue, particularly when it comes to information technology in government. often in govt. IT we have to balance new technology implementation, testing new skills and developing product strategy, with keeping current systems running. while the private sector has the same demands, the difference with govt. IT is that govt. IT also has a significant body of rules, regulations and even laws which govern its development (eg the antideficiency act).
the antideficiency act is just one, but one worth exploring. we demand that govt. IT provide all the technology needs of today and be innovative, and even provide service which drives economic development. imagine if a lean startup had the antideficiency act rules? employees wouldn’t be allowed to write code off hours, because that would be volunteering. employees wouldn’t be allowed to think about workflow during their bike commute, because that would be volunteering. employees wouldn’t be allowed to stay late, just because they wanted to test some ideas with a new set of technology that came on the market, because that would be volunteering. employees wouldn’t be allowed to write code at home to test some new open source technology, which could have drastic impact on work related systems.
we talk all the time in govt. IT about how we need to emulate the lean startup mentality, but have a significant number of barriers (the antideficiency act being only one) which limit our ability to be innovative.
i am dedicated, just like any lean startup, to making my product work, and work better than anyone else (i would link to sites that i manage or help build, but they are currently shut down). i do this because i am passionate about data driven decisions in making public policy better and using cutting edge technology to do so. i am caught in that there are laws potentially prohibiting me from being that innovative.
March 24, 2018
Changing the federal acquisition regulation would require an inordinately large shift, likely an Administrative Procedures Act rulemaking or perhaps even legislation, both of which are very unlikely scenarios.
December 04, 2017
i hope that there is a slim chance my children can experience some mountains or canyons, without handrails.
May 11, 2016
these charts help illustrate the mortgage landscape
February 18, 2016
tonight i have remembered the night it shook my bones. i just wanted to write about it for its own sake.
April 15, 2015
it is the opportunity to reflect that everyday activities are the most important thing. it is a milestone that the kid got back to the court from the darkeset depths of therapy, of surgery and of unknown and fear.
February 26, 2015
be very careful of any IT bandwagon, because in reality, it might be a fake band
November 01, 2014
i am so amazed by my uncle. my uncle paul, a stalwart in boulder colorado, has recently had a rebirth of music.
July 29, 2014
it gave me chills because i could hear the dedication in the voice of antero garcia, the teacher, when he asks "how could i have reached out to you better?"
July 12, 2014
I owned and road my first fixed gear bike in the winter of 1985. I was a member of my high school cycling team back then in Fall River (pronounced fall reeva) Ma. Winter's in south eastern new england are a little harsh, there is a good mix of snow, freezing rain storms, north-easters coming in off the atlantic which make for extra salt corrosion see rusty jones.
July 08, 2014
This is an ignite talk i gave at a staff event about american cycling and innovation.
May 24, 2014
Writing out the names of the people who made the success at the fcc. what they did. the real rock stars
November 09, 2013
its been eating at me. the constant tech news. the constant headlines about failed government IT contracting.
October 07, 2013
good design integrates multiple technologies, and highlights the issue, rather than the implementing technology.
October 02, 2013
yesterday was my 2nd furlough day in the 2013 government shutdown. three small things happened to me personally yesterday
October 01, 2013
yesterday was my first day of furlough in the 2013 government shutdown. during the day i did the following things
June 15, 2013
Why the recent GitHub release making geojson files automatic web maps is disruptive.
April 12, 2013
Recently at the FCC, we held an unusual day. We call it D(f)evEx (pronounced as either devex or fedex) Days, and this was our first ever.
March 22, 2013
Working on a previous conclusion that perhaps PDFs are not a great way to release data.
March 05, 2013
On Sunday, February 25, 2013, the White House released documents detailing the projected costs to states of the upcoming sequester.