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Is the Federal Government the Most Interesting Tech Startup For 2009?

ScuttleMonkey posted about 5 years ago | from the get-stuff-done-czar dept.

Technology 148

With all of the recent focus on technology and the promises to continue "getting stuff done" by the US government, Techdirt's Masnick suggests that they might just be the most interesting tech startup to watch this year. "But, of course, talk is cheap (especially in politics). And, while Chopra (and Vivek Kundra, the government's CIO) both actually have a nice track record of accomplishing these sorts of goals in their past jobs, the proof is in what's actually getting done. We'd already mentioned at least one success story with the IT dashboard at USASpending.gov, but can it continue? I have to admit, a second thing that impressed me about Chopra was that, even with such a success, he didn't focus on it. The fact that he got together such a site in such a short period of time is impressive enough, and while he mentioned it in his talks, most of them were much more focused not on what he'd already done, but on what he was going to do — and the plans all seemed quite achievable.

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No, it's the stupidest tech startup (4, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | about 5 years ago | (#29096355)

No competent tech startup would pay $18 million for recovery.org

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (2, Funny)

tvjunky (838064) | about 5 years ago | (#29096413)

It could have been worse... [thedailywtf.com]

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (2, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | about 5 years ago | (#29096417)

...unless they could get VCs to foot the bill.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (4, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 5 years ago | (#29096471)

...unless they could get VCs to foot the bill.

Obama's smarter than you. He gets taxpayers to foot the bill.

Why the hell was the parent funny? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096913)

Spending $18,000,000.00 of my money is funny!?

Re:Why the hell was the parent funny? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097015)

Your money? Some of that was mine, asshole!

Re:Why the hell was the parent funny? (1, Insightful)

Gryle (933382) | about 5 years ago | (#29098617)

It's funny that you think all of that eighteen-million dollars is yours.

Re:Why the hell was the parent funny? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29098735)

Oh, waaaaah! Lighten up.

Anyway, $18 million of your money? I doubt that you have ever had that much money to your name, let alone paid $18 million in taxes.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1, Troll)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 5 years ago | (#29097673)

Obama's smarter than you. He gets taxpayers to foot the bill.

And the bully "taxes" your lunch money. Does that mean that he is smarter than you too?

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (2, Insightful)

lumpenprole (114780) | about 5 years ago | (#29098103)

Right. Besides the aqueducts, medicine, roads, and irrigation, the bully has given us nothing!

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

MaggieL (10193) | about 5 years ago | (#29096699)

It's the burn rate that'll kill ya...

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#29096457)

No competent tech startup would pay $18 million for recovery.org

Well, it was recovery.gov [recovery.gov] not org and really the comments the first time we discussed it noted worse problems [slashdot.org] . I mean, if they have a full time staff for the site and lots of servers and a lot of research going on, $18 million is about on par with what the government drops on crap like that. Fine. The fact that it was bidless and the company that got it gives tens of thousands of dollars to house majority leader Steny Hoyer (D) is what we really should be upset about. I thought the days of Haliburten were over ...

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29096551)

I thought the days of Haliburten were over ...

What would make you believe that? Because the Democrats are in charge? Pa-lease. That just means the no-bid contracts will be going to their friends instead of those of the GOP.

Amazing how the new kind of politics looks and smells a lot like the old, isn't it?

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (5, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#29096797)

That just means the no-bid contracts will be going to their friends instead of those of the GOP.

I do believe that that would fall under the definition of change.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#29098799)

That just means the no-bid contracts will be going to their friends instead of those of the GOP.

I do believe that that would fall under the definition of change.

Especially when prefixed by "not much" and with "there" on the end.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096981)

mod parent up, that is the definition of politics

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

BigWhiteGuy_27 (804307) | about 5 years ago | (#29097315)

Amazing how the new kind of politics looks and smells a lot like the old, isn't it?

In the immortal words of The Who: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096557)

This is winkydink and his comment

****** WHOOOSH ******

This is you.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

winkydink (650484) | about 5 years ago | (#29096601)

thank you for correcting the .org/gov - too hasty in posting

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096759)

Where did you get the idea that it was a no-bid contract? Or did you just mean that the bidding process was accelerated [informationweek.com] .

Smartronix won the Recovery.gov contract over two other bidders, SRI International and Accenture, in an accelerated bidding process that only included companies who are part of the multi-vendor Alliant contracting vehicle.

By law, Recovery.gov must be up and reporting stimulus spending in detail by October 10, but Pound said that the normal, full, and open competition process takes an average of 267 days to award a contract. "That's unacceptable and people would be screaming for our heads," he said. Now, the RATB expects the site will be up as early as late August.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (4, Informative)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#29096891)

Actually, if you used the website, you would know that 30.4% of all government contracts in 2009 were no-bid. You would also know that Steny Hoyer isn't unique in any way and that they ALL do it. In fact, if you want to stay in office, you better be able to report in your election campaign all the jobs you created. Of course, the website will let you know all the money that is going to each congressional district. Everyone has their hands in the pie and USASpending.gov has plenty of pie charts to illustrate that for you. Oh, and it does this very rapidly with no evidence of /.ing.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097791)

So you're telling me that there aren't any other qualified people out there who offered to build the site for less than $18,000,000? I find that hard to believe since even if they did it for $4,000,000 they would have a massive profit on it. Surely someone would have offered a better deal.

Oh well, the CIO position just mirrors so much of the rest of America. Either offshore all tech/information jobs or bring in cheap labor from India, like Kundra. I know some might take that as a racist comment. Or at least, their only defense for the guy is accusing those who question is position of racism... but really, what the hell ARE his qualifications? He's very young. He doesn't have much experience. And listening to him talk... he doesn't even have a clue what he's rambling about.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (3, Informative)

ToxicPig (1614125) | about 5 years ago | (#29097743)

Having worked in Federal Government IT for 15 years, I can say that it certainly DOES NOT have any kind of start up mentality. Startups can be dumb or smart, but usually they are quick to act, for better or for worse. Fed programs are slower than a snail running a cross pattern, and usually don't have nearly so clearly defined a direction. They spend good money after bad to get the best solution, and always end up being at the mercy of their vendors.

I worked for the hosting and proserv provider for USAspending.gov and helped bring that site up. I left their employ just before recovery.gov got its legs. In both cases, the sites were deployed on old hardware, and were backed up by a CDN. Good enough, but we warned them that they really needed to get new hardware for their backend. Wouldn't hear of it. They had servers. They spent their money on programming and the CDN. Seems to be working well for them, but it's the proverbial house of cards. Hopefully they've improved things since I left.

In any case, equating the Federal Government to an IT startup is like comparing a Shelby GT 500 to Steny Hoyer on roller skates strapped onto a couple of model rocket engines. Just not in the same league.

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (2, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29097983)

"I thought the days of Haliburten were over ..."

And, not to put too fine a point on it, the services contract to which you refer WAS bid. Companies bid on the cost of their services - labor rates, markup on subcontractors, etc. They won it. Did there scope increase dramatically with the start of the war? Sure. But the only differences between KBR and, say, Bechtel doing the work are:

1) We would have paid MORE for Bechtel
2) No one would have heard about it because of the lack of connection to Cheney

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096465)

Independence Day

President Thomas Whitmore: I don't understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
Julius Levinson: You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

fooslacker (961470) | about 5 years ago | (#29096667)

It's just an artifact of the .org bubble. After the correction it will be more reasonably priced.

No, it's the not-a-startup-iest "startup". (2, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#29096707)

I thought the defining features of a startup were being small and not having any money.

Re:No, it's the not-a-startup-iest "startup". (4, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 5 years ago | (#29097325)

Yea it's like calling Microsoft the most recent Video Game Console start-up.

Re:No, it's the not-a-startup-iest "startup". (1)

qbzzt (11136) | about 5 years ago | (#29098401)

How many Trillions in debt do you need to be before people think you don't have any money?

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

R80_JR (1094843) | about 5 years ago | (#29096939)

No way, no how. The Feds are more like Dilbert's "Mordac", preventers of information technology. In addition to no-bid fraud, waste, and abuse on the read-only, non-transactional "transparency" web site, add in the reaping of email addresses at whitehouse.gov (a practice carried over from the Obama campaign web sites, by the way, with no effective way to get off the list through the web site).

Re:No, it's the stupidest tech startup (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 5 years ago | (#29097729)

Especially when they're paying $18,000,000 to just install Drupal. (source: http://drupal.org/node/376036 [drupal.org] )

Also, what exactly are Vivek Kundra's qualifications for his position that place him above everyone else in the country? As best I could unearth, he apparently was the CEO of a tech company. That had one employee. And that employee was himself. And it didn't make a profit.

Also, have you heard his idiotic quote from a few days ago where he was blabbering on and on about all the "amazing" stuff he's done, like turn a bunch of already-available data into nifty little graphs? And he stated the following quote which, as far as I can tell, MEANS ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING:

"[Applications will] change to rich interactions away from binary or COBOL ways of interaction." - Vivek Kundra

Kundra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HZ-BESVVck [youtube.com]

I'm getting the vapors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096427)

From that breathless paragraph.

Stephenson's foresight (2, Funny)

LogistX (814694) | about 5 years ago | (#29096449)

It's the Government of the United States
Where hackers go to die
The largest, and yet the least efficient, producer of computer software in the world.

Re:Stephenson's foresight (2, Funny)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 5 years ago | (#29096537)

I think you have them confused with IBM.

Re:Stephenson's foresight (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29096681)

Don't worry, I'm sure they'll listen to Reason.

Re:Stephenson's foresight (1)

hansamurai (907719) | about 5 years ago | (#29096923)

I decided to spent between fourteen and fifteen seconds reading your post. It's better for higher uid's to spend too long, to show that they're intelligent, not noobish. It's better for lower uid's to go a little fast, to show good editor potential.

If they want a lasting legacy... (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#29096495)

They should work with Obama to get executive orders and statutes written to position the federal government's management to not only hire 1099s like the private sector can, but to have that become the norm. One of the biggest reasons why federal IT is so expensive is because the federal government's management culture is still not conducive to having managers hire, direct and take responsibility for contract workers directly. If they could insource the project management en masse, that would shave an incredible amount of tax payer's money off of the cost of contracting as it would reduce the overhead that they pay to the big integrators to manage the projects (as well as pay HR, etc.)

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29096631)

They should work with Obama to get executive orders and statutes written to position the federal government's management to not only hire 1099s like the private sector can, but to have that become the norm.

That will never happen. The public sector unions are huge supporters of the Democratic Party. Care to take a wild guess as to what they would think about a plan to increase the number of independent contractors working for government?

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (4, Interesting)

EsJay (879629) | about 5 years ago | (#29096827)

The very large DOJ org I work with has no union people in IT. Or in any support positions, except maybe the contracted cleaning crews.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 5 years ago | (#29097719)

That will change as soon as the Unions get their new "card check" [wikipedia.org] rules through the Congress. You may find yourself in a union as a condition of your employment, whether you like it or not.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 years ago | (#29097935)

You may find yourself in a union as a condition of your employment, whether you like it or not.

Only if more people vote for the union than vote against it. That's what elections mean, whether the votes are cast by checking a card or by raising a hand or by super-secret, computer-tallied, proprietary Sequoia machines.

Remember, the decline of the number of union workers in the US exactly tracks the decline of real income of American workers, which has been inexorable since the election of Ronald Reagan (who coincidentally, was also anti-union). People who like to spread FUD about unions and organized labor generally really ought to take a look at how organized labor was instrumental in creating a prosperous middle class in America who could count out safe working conditions and reasonable working hours. You can also bet that the people who are most decidedly opposed to organized labor really would rather the middle and working classes be a little less prosperous.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

Afforess (1310263) | about 5 years ago | (#29098069)

Remember, the decline of the number of union workers in the US exactly tracks the decline of real income of American workers, which has been inexorable since the election of Ronald Reagan (who coincidentally, was also anti-union).

Causation does not mean correlation. The decline in income is due to the decline in Manufacturing Jobs. The decline in Manufacturing Jobs is because of myopic management, out of control (union) wages and cheap foreign labor. You can just as easily blame the Chinese as Regan. Large-Scale economic trends almost always have more than one contributing factor. Or was WWII just because of Hitler?

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (2, Informative)

Korin43 (881732) | about 5 years ago | (#29098343)

Even if the majority vote to join a union, how does that make it in any way fair to force everyone to join? I've heard the argument that non-members get the "benefits" of being in the union without paying for it, but have you ever considered that people might not WANT a union? Oh wait, how could they possibly disagree with you? You're probably much better at running their lives than they are..

Unions in a lot of businesses are just there to make sure that incompetent people can't get fired, which just makes it harder for competent people to do their jobs (because they have to pick up the slack). They also make sure that good employees who've worked somewhere for a short time make less money than employees who don't do anything but have worked there for a long time.

Not that all unions are bad neccessarily, but in most cases now, working conditions aren't nearly bad enough for a union to do anything useful, so they exist anyone to waste their members money and make working conditions worse (by keeping bad employees around).

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29098577)

It would be a condition of employment, just like many of the others you agree to. I might not want to work 9-5, but if the job requires it, that's what I've got to do.

Some conditions are not reasonable, but I can't see how being required to join a union is worse than being required to work certain hours, or for a certain salary. It just effectively means you're accepting a smaller salary to account for the union dues. If you disagree with the union policy, you are of course free to work somewhere else.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29098691)

Only if more people vote for the union than vote against it. That's what elections mean, whether the votes are cast by checking a card or by raising a hand or by super-secret, computer-tallied, proprietary Sequoia machines.

Except if you make me raise my hand in front of my co-workers and boss I'm potentially subject to intimidation and coercion by either side. Tell me, why are the Union folks so eager to see the elimination of the secret ballot?

People who like to spread FUD about unions and organized labor generally really ought to take a look at how organized labor was instrumental in creating a prosperous middle class in America who could count out safe working conditions and reasonable working hours.

And people who drink the Union kool-aid really ought to look a hard look at the downsides of organized labor. Tell me, would you rather work somewhere that rewards you for competence or somewhere that rewards you based on seniority? Guess which system is more likely under the unionized shop?

Unions were necessary back in the day. Anybody who has ever taken a tour of an old coal mine and seen the working conditions those poor bastards worked under can attest to that. The problem is that many of the Unions ceased to be about the workers a long time ago. Now they are all about protecting the institution and expanding it's power and reach. This tends to happen with most organizations after awhile and is one of the many reasons why I'm skeptical of unions.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

TheSync (5291) | about 5 years ago | (#29098857)

Remember, the decline of the number of union workers in the US exactly tracks the decline of real income of American workers, which has been inexorable since the election of Ronald Reagan

US total real compensation per hour (the total of wages and benefits, such as health coverage, life insurance, and 401(k) plans) has been rising monotonically since at least 1950, with the notable exception of a plateau between 1992 and 1997. Graph here [econbrowser.com] .

Moreover, US real median family income rose during the Reagan era (1981-1989) from $40K to $45K (2006 dollars). After Reagan, real median family income fell a bit but then went back up to nearly $50K in 1999. Data on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

In 2007, US real median household income was $50,233 in (2007 dollars.) [census.gov]

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29097679)

That will never happen. The public sector unions are huge supporters of the Democratic Party. Care to take a wild guess as to what they would think about a plan to increase the number of independent contractors working for government?

GP's plan was to reform government contracting so that individual technical contractors were directly supervised by civil service employees who would run the projects, rather than projects having the substantive work done by firms with technical contracts while the project oversight was done by integration contractors.

While that would probably increase the number of individual contractors, it would decrease the number of people working under the contracts, and shift work and influence to additional government employees, so the only reason public employees unions might complain is that it didn't go far enough.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

e2d2 (115622) | about 5 years ago | (#29099051)

It could work if you could offer the public workers some incentive similar to incentives offered to managers in the private sector. This would be a change for government, rewarding based on merit of managed projects alone, but it might work. For instance, if a project manager can manage to hire three workers on 1099 with very little ramp up time, they could potentially save a lot of money over public sector workers. Perhaps a yearly bonus would be useful?

This really isn't a stretch from the current model, where most public workers manage contractors through their parent company. What's different would be the hiring process and the ability to direct all contract workers directly.

IMO it would allow them to change quicker than they can currently, which is essential to every large organization, but essential to a government that changes every 4 years.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (5, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29096633)

They should work with Obama to get executive orders and statutes written to position the federal government's management to not only hire 1099s like the private sector can, but to have that become the norm.

As someone who has worked a portion of their life living off of 1099s, I have to frown on that simply because contract work does not induce economic stability if done on a large enough scale. People want permanent jobs (well most people).

Living off of contracts month to month is great when you are young because you can take as much vacation as you need and you don't have to worry about having a boss you don't like for that long.

But sometimes work gets slow and you have to turn to other work besides IT especially in a down turn.

I've always believed in having internal IT not because of the efficiency aspect but because it provides economic stability for those involved. Its more of an ethical thing to me.

I'd rather have my tax dollars go to that.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (5, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29097217)

They should work with Obama to get executive orders and statutes written to position the federal government's management to not only hire 1099s like the private sector can, but to have that become the norm. One of the biggest reasons why federal IT is so expensive is because the federal government's management culture is still not conducive to having managers hire, direct and take responsibility for contract workers directly. If they could insource the project management en masse, that would shave an incredible amount of tax payer's money off of the cost of contracting as it would reduce the overhead that they pay to the big integrators to manage the projects (as well as pay HR, etc.)

Instead of making it easier for the government to hire individual contractors that are supervised by regular government employees to reduce the waste from the government hiring integration contractors to manage development contractors, why not just have the government hire, as regular employees, the technical staff to meet its ongoing technical needs so you also in-source the work itself rather than just the management of the work.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (1)

qbzzt (11136) | about 5 years ago | (#29098443)

why not just have the government hire, as regular employees, the technical staff to meet its ongoing technical needs so you also in-source the work itself rather than just the management of the work.

Because it's really hard to lay off government employees when they are no longer needed. Building a Web site requires a lot more people than maintaining it.

Re:If they want a lasting legacy... (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29098961)

why not just have the government hire, as regular employees, the technical staff to meet its ongoing technical needs so you also in-source the work itself rather than just the management of the work.

Because it's really hard to lay off government employees when they are no longer needed.

I think you missed the phrase "ongoing technical needs", and, additionally, have failed to consider that the overall technical staff needs of a very large organization (like the government) may be far less variable than the technical staffing needs of individual units of such an organization.

Also, as far as dealing with "surge" needs, its really not hard to shed government employees that are hired for limited-term positions -- which exist in most civil service systems, including, I believe, the federal system -- when the term of those positions expire.

Silent No More... Silent No More ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096525)

Give me back MY United States of America.

You can have it [youtube.com] , morons.

Yours In Socialism,
Kilgore Trout

The most interesting tech startup... (5, Funny)

ristonj (1195983) | about 5 years ago | (#29096561)

  • They have software processes so convoluted, you need GPS navigation to make sense of them
  • They spend money on failing projects like it's going out of style
  • They once had a well managed project, just to see what it felt like

Quite simply, the Federal Government is....The Most Interesting Tech Startup in the World!

Re:The most interesting tech startup... (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | about 5 years ago | (#29096883)

Are you sure you're not talking about Indian code farms...?

Re:The most interesting tech startup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096905)

Hang on, isn't GPS a Federal Government tech project?

So what you're saying is that they had to create a Federal Government project to help people navigate the processes of Federal Government projects...

Re:The most interesting tech startup... (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29098831)

They have software processes so convoluted, you need GPS navigation to make sense of them

That doesn't sound very convoluted. GPS is typically used by people too stupid to read a fucking map. So, you're basically saying that their processes are straightforward enough that anybody with basic map-reading skills can easily make sense of them.

ha interesting... very funny (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096579)

If your idea of interesting is running 10 year old operating systems on 15 year old hardware then yes it is interesting.

If your idea of interesting is trying to run something new and being shut down by 10 year old policies, having the network gate keeper with the only word in there vocabulary is no then yes it is interesting.

If you think its so interesting head on over to usajobs.gov and waste some of your life. I'm heading back to private industry where were driven by profit or efficiency. Find the problem own the problem fix the problem. Not find the problem sit in two and half years of meetings discussing the problem and one day we can actually devote some funds to fixing the problem... 3-4 years later.

Re:ha interesting... very funny (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#29096847)

I'm heading back to private industry where were driven by profit or efficiency. Find the problem own the problem fix the problem. Not find the problem sit in two and half years of meetings discussing the problem and one day we can actually devote some funds to fixing the problem... 3-4 years later.

There's companies out there like that? Every one I've ever worked at has been find the problem, pass the buck, blame others, pass again, hire an outside consultant too much to fix the problem, let him do a half assed job, declare success, give the manager in charge a bonus. Private is no better than government, government just has more due to scale and gets more publicity on their problems.

Re:ha interesting... very funny (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29097225)

The larger any organization becomes, the more bureaucracy is encountered. The pre-breakup AT&T rivaled the dividon of motor vehicles for its bureaucracy.

Re:ha interesting... very funny (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 years ago | (#29098003)

The pre-breakup AT&T rivaled the dividon of motor vehicles for its bureaucracy.

My last few trips to the DMV were very surprising. The service was excellent and efficient, the prices were less than expected, the waits were short and the staff was knowledgeable. And this is in a solidly liberal big city, where coincidentally, Obama has his family home. I don't know in what backwater you had problems with the DMV, but if you ever have to get something done in the DMV here in Chicago, you may find that your talking point is out of date.

Re:ha interesting... very funny (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | about 5 years ago | (#29098909)

Government is a large monopoly that happens to own the court system and gets its money through taxation.

Vivek Kundra is a liar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096583)

Vivek Kundra lied about his credentials, he was CEO of a company with only one person and he is only in his current position due to the widespread practice of cronyism.

Re:Vivek Kundra is a liar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097451)

Not surprising. Vivek Kundra is also a convicted shoplifter [businessinsider.com] that had to be chased down and apprehended in the parking lot by store security.

Is the writer on the Government payroll? (1, Troll)

gubers33 (1302099) | about 5 years ago | (#29096589)

No company in their right mind would pay 18 million for a website. There are many many websites that get more page views are were made for much less. To consider that website a success is a joke.

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (4, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 5 years ago | (#29096743)

No company in their right mind would pay 18 million for a website. There are many many websites that get more page views are were made for much less. To consider that website a success is a joke.

This was discussed to death the first time this information was posted on Slashdot [slashdot.org] ...

But it isn't like they paid 18 million for a single, static page. From the original link [abcnews.com] :

The contract calls for spending $9.5 million through January, and as much as $18 million through 2014, according to the GSA press release.

Roughly $27.5 million over five-ish years is $5.5 million a year. Consider they're paying for servers, electricity, bandwidth, data processing, updates... That doesn't seem like a huge amount to me.

It's a lot of money, sure. But it isn't like someone went out and spent $18 million to shine up their Facebook page, which is what some people would lead you to believe.

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (2, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#29096845)

Roughly $27.5 million over five-ish years is $5.5 million a year. Consider they're paying for servers, electricity, bandwidth, data processing, updates... That doesn't seem like a huge amount to me.

Is that $27M total, or $18M total of which $9M is this year?

Assuming the lower amount, that comes to, what, maybe 15-25 people full-time plus $4M of initial expenses (hardware and executive/sales bonuses, I guess)?

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 5 years ago | (#29096899)

Roughly $27.5 million over five-ish years is $5.5 million a year. Consider they're paying for servers, electricity, bandwidth, data processing, updates... That doesn't seem like a huge amount to me.

Is that $27M total, or $18M total of which $9M is this year?

Assuming the lower amount, that comes to, what, maybe 15-25 people full-time plus $4M of initial expenses (hardware and executive/sales bonuses, I guess)?

My understanding is that it was $18 million in addition to the original $9 million... But I could be mistaken.

Google's paid rather more for a website :-) (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 5 years ago | (#29097985)

On the other hand it does something useful....

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29098089)

Umm yeah it is still WAY to much. Even if "some" people do not understand what went into the site ... it is way, way to much.

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 5 years ago | (#29096997)

Please provide links for websites with similar complexity and scalability that were made for less than the $10 million they spent so far. Also be sure to include a reference to the actual cost of building and running the site so we can make the proper comparisons.

I have to say I find it rather sad that "conservatives" don't have enough flat out failures to whine about that when the government actually produces something that's good and cheap (compared to the vast majority of government projects) that they still whine like little bitches anyway. Give credit where credit is due or lose any credibility you have.

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (2, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | about 5 years ago | (#29097013)

Well it all depends on what you mean by "web site" - $18 million is cheap for some web sites. I have worked on an internal web site for a medium size company (few thousand employees globally) and the development costs ran to over $1 million. For the amount of work that went into it, that was a pretty good deal. It's not just html pages these days - when you have developers spending several years writing, refining, and maintaining complex backends with custom databases, a few million $s begins to look cheap.

Re:Is the writer on the Government payroll? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 5 years ago | (#29097875)

Of course, Drupal is free, open source, and takes a couple hours to fully deploy. And they're building a website that presents already existing open public data in neat little charts and graphs -- not building Amazon or Amazon S3 or Google Voice or Youtube.

The amount of money companies -- even startups with just a couple guys -- spend on their websites is stupidly out of hand. Meanwhile, Slashdot was started with some spare time and Digg was started for $900 worth of coding contracted to a college kid.

There is absolutely no justification for $18mm.

Do NOT work for the government (-1, Troll)

mi (197448) | about 5 years ago | (#29096591)

If we can't starve the beast [wikipedia.org] of money, starve it of the talent. Your own...

Re:Do NOT work for the government (5, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | about 5 years ago | (#29096875)

you ever thought of what would happen without government? Lessee... The government runs the vast majority of water and sewer plants. No clean water to drink. Raw sewage in our rivers and lakes. The government controls the airways. Do you really want anarchy in the skies when you fly? The government builds virtually all of the roads in the US. Want to go back to the days of the toll roads of the last century? (Do some historical research first.) The government mandates most of the safety features on cars. Want to go back to the death traps of 1950s cars? The government provides fire fighting, EMS, and police protection. Read up on what used to happen when firefighters were private. So please, think before you drink any more Rush koolaid, OK? "Starving the beast" makes great rhetoric, but it's downright dumb as an idea and a way to live.

Re:Do NOT work for the government (1, Funny)

OctaviusIII (969957) | about 5 years ago | (#29097105)

"Reg: All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
Xerxes: Brought peace!
Reg: (very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh... (scornfully) Peace, yes... shut up!"

Re:Do NOT work for the government (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29097191)

Also labor laws that keep your employer from killing you for the sake of money; environmental laws - before the EPA you could NOT drive past Monsanto in Sauget with the windows down, even in 100 degree heat and no AC; government is there to write and enforce laws that protect me from you.

Anyone should be able to see from the Bush/Cheney years what happens when you have people who think government is always the problem running the government.

Good job, Brownie.

Re:Do NOT work for the government (3, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | about 5 years ago | (#29097653)

Ah yes. It's not so much the government that is the problem, it's those who run the government...

Re:Do NOT work for the government (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | about 5 years ago | (#29097617)

Do you really want anarchy in the skies when you fly?

No. I mean, anarchy in the sky is the same as terrorism. Please save my war on terrorism. Also, I don't want junkies shooting up and smoking pot on airplanes so please save my war on drugs. And I don't want prisoners flying, so please keep my prisons. Oh god, do we need government to save my war on terrorism, my war on drugs, my prisons, and my police! It's the Conservative thing to do!

I hate it when Liberals talk about getting rid of the government I love so much!

</CONSERVATIVE HYPOCRISY>

Re:Do NOT work for the government (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 years ago | (#29098019)

you ever thought of what would happen without government?

Your wasting your time. He hasn't even thought about what would happen without his mommy yet.

Re:Do NOT work for the government (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29098111)

"The government controls the airways. Do you really want anarchy in the skies when you fly? "

Funny you should mention that. One of the biggest pushes in the industry is "free flight", which would allow airlines to plot their own routes to avoid weather, etc. Now they are constrained to certain corridors. The corridors were developed for flight safety, so everyone would know where everyone was and collisions would be avoided - aka, avoid "anarchy in the skies". The problem is that technology and situations change, and now it is arguably MORE dangerous to fly in those corridors because they are so crowded and they artificially constrain the system, resulting in more time in the air for planes and passengers. Cockpit radar and navigation systems have gotten better by orders of magnitude, so why are we not changing to a less risky system?

As for fire departments, you are aware that there are sizable populations in the US served by volunteer fire companies.

Just because the government has done some things well in the past doesn't mean that they are the answer to all our problems, nor even that they should keep doing those things as the situation changes.

Re:Do NOT work for the government (2, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | about 5 years ago | (#29098417)

"Free flight" over the Pacific is one thing. Do you really want to free flight at, say, O'Hare? As for the fire departments, even volunteer fire departments have to comply with standards, and only the firefighters are volunteers. The facility, engines, and training are likely paid for by taxes. I don't know of a single FD that is run out of someone's living room, using private vehicles. I don't believe the gov't is the answer to all our problems, just as I don't believe it is the source of all problems. Government does certain things very, very well, and others poorly. Just like private industry. I refuse the neocon mantra that all government is a cesspool of waste and private industry is always the knight in shining armor.

Re:Do NOT work for the government (1, Troll)

mi (197448) | about 5 years ago | (#29099025)

you ever thought of what would happen without government? Lessee...

Oh, wow, a straw-man!.. Let's see...

There are a few things the Federal Government ought to be running, but it was already running all of them before the Federal Income Tax was (re-)introduced in 1913 [wikipedia.org] — the highest rate being 7% on incomes above $500,000 ($10 million 2007 dollars).

The beast [wikipedia.org] has been growing ever since and has reached scary dimensions by now. It is even trying to consume our health care now — whether it succeeds at that or not, that it is even trying is bad enough. It simply defies all comprehension, that — after the decades of mediocrity, outright failures, and spectacular cost over-runs of highways, Postal Service, Public Schools, MediCare — anybody still holds the opinion, that a Government taking over a part of life from private sector will improve it...

Re:Do NOT work for the government (0)

PaulBu (473180) | about 5 years ago | (#29097247)

Who is John Galt?

Kundra's Credentials (4, Informative)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | about 5 years ago | (#29096649)

Kundra is at worst a fraud and at best someone who is clueless. Listen to some of the things this guy says. http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2009/08/12/special-report-is-us-chief-information-officer-cio-vivek-kundra-a-phony/ [dvorak.org]

Re:Kundra's Credentials (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | about 5 years ago | (#29096937)

Dvorak and Curry talk at length about the guy on No Agenda #121. Some of the clips they play of this guy talking are jaw dropping. He sounds like one of those people giving a speech in a class who simply run out of things to say 10 minutes too early.

The Irony (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29098883)

Kundra is at worst a fraud and at best someone who is clueless.

And you attempt to demonstrate this by linking to well-known clueless fraud, John C. Dvorak? Excuse me while my head explodes.

Re:The Irony (1)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | about 5 years ago | (#29099037)

well-known clueless fraud? Who has said that besides you?

In a word . . . (2, Informative)

PapaSmurph (249554) | about 5 years ago | (#29096693)

No.

Help me slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096721)

I have poop in my butt, what am I supposed to do?

Re:Help me slashdot! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29096887)

drop obama off at the pool.

"Startup"? No. (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 5 years ago | (#29096955)

Is the Federal Government the Most Interesting Tech Startup For 2009?

No, its not. The US Federal Government has been in business continuously since the late 18th Century. Its not, by any sane standard, a startup.

It remains, as it has been for the whole time compting has existed, one of the biggest customers for (and funders of) new computing technology, and any major initiatives it has in that area will have potentially wide-ranging impact on the industry, but an established institution engaging in one or more new technology initiatives is a different beast than a tech startup.

Yep (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | about 5 years ago | (#29096977)

Burn thru all their initial funding with little or nothing to show for it, then roll out something that's big on dreams and weak on funding [usatoday.com] , and then blame all your problems on your potential customers and not your busines plan [usatoday.com] .

Yep, sounds like a startup to me. Well, all except for step four, quietly fold up show and go away. That hasn't happened yet.

YET.

realistically (2, Insightful)

recharged95 (782975) | about 5 years ago | (#29097049)

The words Tech + Startup ==

initially:
  • lots of $$$ lunches, free snacks and food.
  • corporate apartment, likely in Dupont circle
  • salaries 15% above the going average.
  • good looking receptionists, marketing folks
  • long hours........ with 3hrs of playing MMORPs intermingled
  • business development racking up huge travel costs.
  • everyone gets to go/participate in a tech convention (with usual partying with booth babes)

AND in the end:

  • company runs out of cash
  • pissed investors
  • revolving door of Wharton, HBS, Kellogg, Columbia MBAs acting as CEO/CXXs
  • vaporware and a lot of bugs
  • software no customer wants or it out of date from delays
  • worthless options
  • jobs that are really boring
  • weight gain

Gov't the new tech startup? This is looking bad. Really bad.

Open source government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29097639)

It is still a far cry from open source government [wikipedia.org] .

PHP (1)

jrozzi (1279772) | about 5 years ago | (#29097815)

Just to note, the USASpending.gov website uses PHP for it website, data feed, and I'm sure a lot of processing behind the scenes. This goes to show that PHP is great for fast deployment of technologies, is very flexible, and can withhold large scale applications as long as they are created correctly.

USASpending.gov (1)

z-j-y (1056250) | about 5 years ago | (#29098187)

So, how much did we really spend because Obama and Biden wanted to order a burger *in person*. It would be too much trouble to ask the staff, you know.

Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29098209)

Remember, none this would be happening if the Republicans had won the election. The McCain team would be following Bush, figuring out better ways of losing all their email so future courts couldn't convict them of anything.

Talk isn't cheap (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 5 years ago | (#29098269)

Talk is really expensive in politics. But most of the cost is hidden.

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