Vetoed Drone Legislation the Right Step for Growing Industry

By Gary Shapiro and Brian Wynne // September 21, 2015

A Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration event in San Francisco.
A Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration event in San Francisco. // Jeff Chiu/AP File Photo

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and author of “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses” and “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.” His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro. Brian Wynne is president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the largest association representing the unmanned systems and robotics industries. Connect with him on Twitter: @BWynne.

Commercial drones -- also called unmanned aircraft systems -- offer an amazing and ever-increasing array of beneficial applications. They can deliver prescription drugs, help in search-and-rescue efforts and aid disaster-relief missions.

Yet, flying in the face of innovation and opportunity, some states are trying to ground or prematurely restrict this life-changing technology. On Sept. 9, California Gov. Jerry Brown wisely vetoed a bill that would have outlawed flying drones below an arbitrary altitude over private property without permission. While the UAS industry supports the safe, nonintrusive use of drones, Senate Bill 142 would have taken a wrong and damaging approach.

Brown recognized the concerns expressed by a broad coalition of private and commercial users, manufacturers and retailers of UAS. While we agree that issues...

What’s Your Return on Complying with the DATA Act?

By Bryce Pippert and Hudson Hollister // September 21, 2015


Bryce Pippert is a leader in open data and legislative change at Booz Allen Hamilton. Hudson Hollister is the founder and executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, which advocates on behalf of the private sector and the public interest for the publication of standardized, machine-readable government information.

The scale of U.S. federal government spending is immense, overwhelming and abstract. At 20 percent of American Gross Domestic Product, our $3.8 trillion in annual federal spending is larger than the entire economies of all but two countries. This large budget spanning hundreds of agencies and departments presents a considerable challenge to open review of public spending.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. Wise and transparent spending has been a fundamental principle of our democracy since its founding. In an 1802 letter to Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson hopefully foresaw a future where Americans would “… see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union shall be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and, consequently, to control them.”

Indeed, the United States has built the strongest...

Time Has Come to Reform Laws Governing Law Enforcement Access to Data

By Paul Rosenzweig // September 18, 2015


Paul Rosenzweig is a senior adviser to The Chertoff Group, a global security and risk management advisory, and former deputy assistant secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Some of the laws governing the process by which the federal government gains access to electronic data are nearly 30 years old. As a result, electronic evidence today is, effectively, accessible to the government by fiat at a time and place of its choosing, often without regard for who is holding the evidence or even where, on the vast globe of a connected Internet, the evidence is being stored.

Rules written for a time when smartphones and tablets didn’t even exist are hopelessly out of date in today’s world. It is time, and well past time, for Congress to begin the process of bringing federal electronic evidence-gathering law into the 21st century.

But at a hearing recently before the Senate Judiciary Committee, representatives of the federal government demurred.  Their rhetoric was supportive in theory, but their testimony was laden with exceptions, caveats and concerns. Their basic message, if one may paraphrase it, was “go slow, we need to consider this carefully, we like the idea in general...

The War on Telework

By Bill Powers // September 17, 2015

A. and I. Kruk/

Bill Powers is a PhD, policy guru, author and lecturer. 

The ongoing management “War on Telework” has flared up yet again, according to a General Services Administration inspector general report, completed for 2013-2014. This time, the IG’s mortar fire was directed at 454 names in the master list of virtual employees (full-time teleworkers) on the GSA’s Office of Human Resources Management whose arrangements had never been approved along with other procedural auditing issues.

The timing of this attack is curious and parallels another strafing against teleworkers at the Patent and Trademark Office by the IG’s office for the same time period (2013) in which an anonymous complaint alleged systemic time and attendance abuse by USPTO patent examiners participating in the telework and hoteling programs.

And if those two were not enough bad press, it was accompanied again by another IG smear attack upon the USPTO for a patent examiner who was paid for telework that was allegedly not done.

Coincidental Press Exuberance or Calculated Attacks?

If it were not for common knowledge among experienced researchers about the overarching management resistance to telework as, for example, described by the 2013 Office of Personnel Management report on the status...

4 Key Customer Experience Strategies To Become Citizen Obsessed

By Rick Parrish and Jennifer Belissent // September 16, 2015

Rick Parrish and Jennifer Belissent are analysts at Forrester Research. Rick helps governments with customer experience strategy and Jennifer works with government CIOs on BT strategy.

Seven of the 10 worst organizations in Forrester's U.S. Consumer Customer Experience Index are U.S. federal agencies.Only a third of Americans say their experience with U.S. government agencies meets their expectations, and state and local governments don't fare any better.

Faced with this dismal performance, federal, state and local governments are learning what organizations in every industry have discovered: The only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers.

Make no mistake -- the pressure is on. As companies in every industry become more customer obsessed, the people's expectations of government will continue to rise. Governments that fall further behind risk much more than just public criticism and electoral defeat. They jeopardize their stability and economic prosperity as people, companies and other investors vote with their feet and find better places to live and work.

Sound dramatic? Perhaps, but to many cities, states and countries, the brain drain is a reality. When the U.K. lifted immigration restrictions in 2014, Bulgarians and Romanians boarded buses en...