Does a “cartel” of contractors exert inordinate control over government contracting, encouraging agencies to stick with dated technologies and slowing the move to cloud computing and other updates?
Former Federal CIO Vivek Kundra thinks so, and said so in an editorial he published in the New York Times. Our report
on his comments drew fire from readers on both sides of the argument.
“Darth Vader Mentor” admitted being “not a fan of Kundra” before partially agreeing with Kundra’s argument.
"Many CIO's think that big firms are good for government," Mr. Vader wrote. "The result is more often than not the inverse. Unfortunately, this statement is typical Kundra. He points out the flaw, but never the solution. The solution lies in re-educating the upper management or replacing it if they cannot be unbiased to big firms.”
“I don't entirely agree with [using] ‘the cloud’ for everything, but I do absolutely agree with the concept of the contractor cartel holding up agencies from maximizing taxpayer dollars on IT projects,” another reader wrote. “Having spent my career doing federal IT, both as a contractor and a fed, I know first hand the woes and dysfunctions of this relationship.”
Other readers dismissed Kundra’s allegations.
“Kundra's most recent comments are much like most of his other contributions to the government IT community: looks good, sounds good and does no good,” one critic wrote. “I find it difficult to see how the IT contractor cartel, a creation of the government’s own ludicrous contracting machinery, is holding back new technology. They thrive not only on change, but even more on thrash.”
Another reader agreed there’s a problem, but disagreed with Kundra’s diagnosis of the cause. “For at least 20 years, government has allowed contractors to create a monster of processes and controls and boards that require even more contractors to keep track of,” that reader wrote. “Over-dependence on profit-minded contractors instead of maintaining a technically competent government workforce has gotten the government where it is today.”
Kundra’s tenure as federal CIO was polarizing – some hailed him as a visionary, while others thought his ideas were academic and impractical – and in his departure, he’s no less divisive.
“Nice of Kundra to take strike a few low blows on his way out the door,” wrote a reader in the latter camp. “It appears his cloud-first policy was not going as smoothly as he would have liked, so he leaves and blames the ‘IT cartel’ for his shortcomings. There are multiple impediments to moving government to the cloud and contractors play a role in that, but they are certainly not the root cause.”
Posted on Sep 02, 2011 at 7:26 PM21 comments
Federal Computer Week's editorial offices are on the seventh floor of a building in Falls Church, Va. We were working on the regular mix of things on a quiet, ordinary Tuesday afternoon when the floors began to vibrate.
Most of us thought little of it in the first couple of seconds because there has been construction and furniture moving on the floor above us recently and rumbles and noises aren't unusual. But then it grew more intense, and furniture started to sway and some of us wondered: earthquake, or bomb?
When everything stopped shaking -- the longest 20 seconds of our lives -- we stood up as one and headed for the stairs, winding our way down seven flights and emerging in the front lobby. We still didn't know for certain what had happened, but people using smart phones were quick to begin reporting some information.
After about 15 minutes the building management let us return and try to get our minds back to work.
Where were you when the earthquake hit?
Posted on Aug 23, 2011 at 7:26 PM10 comments
What famous figures gave their names to the months of July and August?
(Scroll down for answer)
Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar.
The Roman Senate named the month of July for Julius Caesar in honor of his reforming of the Roman calendar. Later, after Julius Caesar's grand-nephew Augustus became emperor of Rome, the Senate decided to bestow his name on the month in which he had won his battles with Marc Antony -- Sextillis, the sixth month of the Roman year, became August.
The Senate added a day to August so that Julius and Augustus Caesar would be honored with months of equal length. To accommodate that, they took a day from February, shortening it from 29 to 28 days.
Posted on Aug 17, 2011 at 7:26 PM1 comments