From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share that was originally posted on Accounting Today.
Employees working from home during the coronavirus pandemic claimed some outlandish expenses this year, including pricey exercise bikes, facelifts and private jets.
Emburse, an expense management software company, released a compilation Wednesday of some of the craziest expenses it has seen claimed this year, some of which were actually approved. That included $1,895, which was approved as a contribution for an employee's Peloton Bike under the explanation of "for health and wellness." On the other hand, a $7,600 expense claim for a facelift was submitted under the category of "repairs and maintenance" but was rejected, despite the pressing need to look one's best during a Zoom meeting.
The pandemic has created a newfound societal appreciation for the small businesses of Main Street. This support of small businesses is exciting to see as is the innovation that businesses are employing to ensure customers and employees can safely support them. In government, this appreciation for small business is not something that started in 2020. It has been a focus since 1988 when Congress enacted the first procurement goal. Part of that focus was because government knew that innovation happens within these smaller, more nimble companies and they wanted to capitalize on the forward thinking.
Small business goals have increased year over year and government is doing their part to keep up. In fact, in 2019 government exceeded its overall small business contracting goals for the seventh consecutive year. Federal agencies awarded 26.5% of total prime contract dollars to small businesses (above the goal of 23%) which equates to nearly $133B.
Citizen Experience is a focus of government agencies from federal to state and local. Governments are working to give citizens the same service experience they get as consumers in the commercial market. A huge piece of this is understanding who the citizen is and creating a "journey" tailored to their needs. This starts with the rather technical and security-minded practice of identity management.
Traditionally, identity management has been viewed as a way to enable access to systems for a workforce. It is the practice that assures that the proper people have access to the technology and systems they need. If we look at it in the context of citizen service, identity management is more than giving people access to their accounts. It is about giving people and systems that serve citizens insight to how they can better serve each citizen. In fact, a well-thought out identity management strategy can proactively offer applicable programs related to public health and social services.
Identity management is playing a role as part of robotic process automation (RPA) solutions designed to speed up benefits to citizens. In an effort to improve the turnaround time for loan distribution during national crises, RPA can enable a compilation of an applicant's record from multiple systems, channels, and service providers for collection and entry into systems for underwriters to analyze. Identity management is key to achieving 10 to 100 times faster processing, ensuring that the person applying for the aid is who they say they are.
The way we look at and use databases has changed dramatically over the past several years. Starting with data center consolidation mandates and the push to Cloud First and later Cloud Smart, agencies across government have been reinventing how they use and access databases.
DevOps is making an impact on how databases are planned and managed. The continuous updates and faster releases are being applied to database management to make government more agile. It also acts to make government systems more secure. The DevOps process that introduces more automation and continuous improvement means that human-related data errors can be mitigated earlier in deployment processes. Combined with encryption, this approach of granting access to sensitive data to those with the correct permissions can also mask the data in copies of databases used for development and testing.
The potential "downside" of DevOps throughout government is the fact that application developers are being asked to double as database administrators to maintain fluidity in the process and support an agency's rapid release cycle. But, if we recognize this concept of the "accidental database administrator," we can get them the tools to succeed. Software as a Service-based application performance management (APM) is one tool that developers can use to continuously identify performance and availability issues leading to proactive reporting of matters that may be "beyond their pay grade."
Recently, Market Connections released their 2020 Federal Media and Marketing Study results, providing a look at how the pandemic has shaped the way the federal buyer consumes media. Findings from 2020 can support marketers in short term planning and serve as a basis for longer term thinking about what their marketing strategy should look like.
The biggest long-term change is the location of where people work. Prior to March 2020, only 5% of federal workers were teleworking full time. This number moved as high as 59%, and while it will drop in the future, 27% report they expect to telework full time in the future. Another 46% expect that partial telework will be a regular routine moving forward.