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Outgoing Federal CIO Warns of 'IT Cartel' In DC

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the interweb-industrial-complex dept.

Government 198

CWmike writes "In a wide-ranging discussion Friday with President Barack Obama's top science advisors, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra warned of the dangers of open data access and was sharply critical of government IT contracting, telling the committee: '...We almost have an IT cartel within federal IT' made up of very few companies that benefit from government spending 'because they understand the procurement process better than anyone else.' He added: 'It's not because they provide better technology.'"

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And this applies exclusively to IT. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801648)

Not any other area of federal contracting. No sir, this is exclusively an IT problem...

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1, Insightful)

robbyb20 (651479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801712)

Sorry, but hes the CIO. He should have no comment on any other part of the government since what he says wouldnt be valued by the public eye since its "not his area of expertise" We are lucky he even said this. Should the CIO of a company be calling out the Marketing Dept? How about HR?

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801820)

If he sees problems there, hell yes.
This whole BS MBA compartmentalized mentality is killing America.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (5, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802066)

Somewhat.

But his larger point of knowing how to use the system and apply for the contracts...is what keeps the major few companies as being the only IT companies doing business with the feds.

The hoops you have to jump through are many. The larger contract houses have staff devoted to NOTHING but writing proposals. The small guy, cannot compete with this.

And even when there are contracts dedicated to SM's....the only way that truly works, is, the larger contract houses, *back* the small business and join to them...basically using them as a front to get the bids on the small business contracts.

They generally find a small company, it must be female or minority owned about 99% of the time, to get federal consideration.....then, the big guys basically do most of the proposal work, and the so call PRIME contractor that wins...gets a good kick of money in, but they really aren't in control of anything.

Happens all the time.

You'd need to rewrite the oversite rules...somehow...to try to prevent this. To make the application process simpler....but I don't see that happening any time soon. But, ever since they've been trying to make mandates that the Federal govt workers be more oversite and managers, rather than hands-on tech, you're gonna see more and more of this.

That and the situation that really kills the small companies off....is the hesitance of the feds to hire individual contractors as 1099's directly....they'd rather hire a large IT company which then wires the 'contractors' as W2 employees....giving you essentially the worst of both worlds.

You don't get the bill rate you should get as a true contractor, but you do get the lack of stability of a contractor. This bastardization of the contracting paradigm has really hurt things....

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802244)

The hoops you have to jump through are many. The larger contract houses have staff devoted to NOTHING but writing proposals. The small guy, cannot compete with this.

Sometimes they can. Maybe it helps to be stoned. [rollingstone.com]

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (4, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802226)

This whole BS MBA compartmentalized mentality is killing America.

I sooo much prefer the "Palinization" spewing word salad on any topic imaginable that they know nothing about...

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (2)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802364)

One shouldn't open their mouth unless they can back it up. As CIO, he has the experience to be able to make his point about IT. He has the budgets, he has worked with the players, etc. That's not compartmentalization, it's simply discretion and good sense.

The difference between Vivek Kundra and someone like me is that if he talks, people will print it. He is a "senior official", and as such, even if he doesn't know anything about the defense budget or procurement process, people will listen to him talk about it. It is only good sense that someone with that level of visibility remains circumspect about things outside their own experience even if they have something to say about it.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (4, Insightful)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801886)

I would hope that the janitor would be able to call out the CIO if he found him to be wasting company resources. At least that's th way W. Edwards Deming saw it, and I've always been inclined to agree. He said that the most important people in the company are usually the lowest on the corporate pyramid because they have day to day contact with the customer. All workers need to be empowered to be part of the quality control equation becuase they all function within the system. It seems to have worked quite well for Japan and many of the other Asian nations...

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (3, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802454)

Should the CIO of a company be calling out the Marketing Dept?

If they did, maybe we can get some actual honesty out of marketing.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (2)

BuildingSnowmen (2203054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801718)

Exactly. How does it work again?
1.) Get lowest bid proposal from committee insider.
2.) Make slightly lower bid to win contract.
3.) Win contract, and use money from contract to fund committee insider's re-election campaign.
4.) Rinse, repeat.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801744)

In (most of) Canada we don't even open the bids until after the closing date. They sit in sealed envelopes.

Makes #1 impossible.

I would be surprised if the process wasn't similar in the US.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

topham (32406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801812)

Bahahaha.

In Manitoba we have a system in place on how to handle bribes ethically.

not kidding, and it's fucking sad.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801904)


Mayor Katz, is that you?

Cheney slam in 3, 2, 1... (1)

charlieo88 (658362) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801880)

Sure, we do that, but in the US we used to only open the envelope from Haliburton.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802074)

I would be surprised if the process wasn't similar in the US.

I live in Minnesota, and I wouldn't be. There is something of an epidemic of corruption in my nation's state and federal governments. It is Standard Operating Procedure to do exactly what BuildingSnowmen says:

1.) Corrupt contractor get's lowest bid proposal from corrupt committee insider.
2.) Corrupt contractor makes slightly lower bid to win contract.
3.) Corrupt contractor gives kick-backs to corrupt committee insider to fund committee insider's re-election campaign.
4.) Rinse, repeat.

If it's not exactly this, it's something like embezzling, tax evasion, or pay-offs by massive Ponzi scheme operators. We have Tom Petters. We have Denny Hecker.

We had an Interstate Highway (I-35) bridge collapse into the Mississippi River. Last Independence Day we had an Interstate Highway (I-94) buckle and rip open during evening rush-hour traffic.

The entire United States should be looking at Minnesota, and watching very carefully.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802504)

You may not have been paying attention over say the past.. 20 or so years, but that corruption exists in every state's government. The specifics may involve infrastructure, rigging presidential elections (like we had with G. Bush when his brother was running FL) or as "simple" as the Sarah Palin scandal that resulted in her leaving office early.

Like unicorns, I've never heard of an honest politician... Rumors, yes; but they are quickly debunked.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801988)

Exactly. How does it work again? 1.) Get lowest bid proposal from committee insider. 2.) Make slightly lower bid to win contract. 3.) Win contract, and use money from contract to fund committee insider's re-election campaign. 4.) Rinse, repeat.

Close.

However, item 2 is not a requirement. A lot more goes into deciding who gets the contract than lowest bid (such as how much the contractor donates to the congressman's campaign).

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (2)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802090)

You missed the part where you over-run the cost by a factor of 2-3 (thought the slightly higher bid was by a company with integrity that wouldn't of done such).

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802278)

Exactly. How does it work again?
1.) Get lowest bid proposal from committee insider. .

The issue is with #1, the “bid proposal”. We are talking about a risk adverse customer that is staffed by lawyers. Bureaucracies are punished when the fail but are not rewarded when they take risks that succeeded. So you get overlong contracts that contain highly technical requirements [from a legal, not technical viewpoint.]. Can you certify that all of your chips are from a approved foundry? That your employees are paid at the prevailing wage? [And it’s not the fact that you are paying the “prevailing wage” which is the union wage – it’s the additional paperwork that one has to file.]

One can’t even file a “bid proposal” without having specialized people on the payroll – that is why it is a cartel. In theory anybody can bid, but in reality you need specialized knowledge in the bureaucracies– which is only held by the insiders.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801732)

I still don't get it though. What the hell does being good with contracting have to do with open data access? Granted, both are issues, but they don't really seem to go together.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801888)

They don't. He just happened to talk about both.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801734)

Everyone in the know will tell yo: in IT its easyer because nobody can properly audit IT purchases. Purchase decisions in our field tend to be subjective.

As subjective as a brand new Mercedes 510 at the doorstep of the procurement decision maker.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802078)

As someone who works for a government contractor, honestly a lot of the "military-industrial complex" conspiracies aren't really certain companies in bed with the government.

It's just that only certain companies are willing to deal with the government's bullshit and have effectively built a business out of dealing with government bullshit.

The funny thing is that a lot of the BS was put into place to try and save taxpayers money by preventing companies from ripping off the government - but in the end, there's so much paperwork and overhead that on average, the taxpayer spends FAR more than the era where 90% of companies were efficient and 10% ripped off the government. Now it's more like 0% are efficient and 1% are actually ripping off the government.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802110)

Not any other area of federal contracting. No sir, this is exclusively an IT problem...

Don't put words in his mouth. He didn't say that. It also does not need to be a problem exclusive to one area to be a problem worth commenting on specifically.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802134)

If federal government is anything like New York state I would agree (I would expect the feds to be even more so)
While there are rules around to prefer small and minority own businesses, their policies make it impossible for such groups to put their foot in the door. And don't blame just the Republicans or the Democrats they both added to the mess.

1. Open bidding isn't anything like an open bid. They take the resumes and profiles of companies they want to use and create a bid so only such company can win, the bid. You will see odd things in the bids like 10 years FORTRAN experience required or 4 Years networking experiences for doing a VB6 to .NET conversion job.

2. The company often makes the bid. Employees actually have little time to make a bid so a few companies may propose bids for them to put out. Then they choose which one the like and bid them out.

3. Expensive requirements, companies need a large line of credit open to show proof that they are not overnight operations... However such line of credit hurts the small business.

4. If you are in, then you stay in. One you got your foot in the door you will never leave unless you really really mess up.

Re:And this applies exclusively to IT. (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802162)

Perhaps not, but IT is certainly a good place to start fixing the problem.

certain organizations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801654)

DAB-C innit?

I think we need a new government agency... (1)

darien.train (1752510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801658)

Called the No-Shit-Sherlock Department. This would be a good example of an agency press release.

This aptly describes the problem. (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801666)

I believe that this aptly describes the problem [despair.com] .

HSPD-12 badges (3, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801802)

So, the infamous 'HSPD-12 badge', aka, the 'CAC card' ...

Supposedly they run $200 each. We all got bitched at for it ... have I *ever* used it to slot into a computer? Nope, because our network runs OSes that don't support the CAC functionality, and a lot of the folks on our machines aren't federal employees and remote users, so we'd have to have them run a background check (which we already do), then come in (from out of the country), finger print 'em, wait a month, then have them come back for a badge.

And then we'd have to issue them CAC readers and force them to use Windows or some OS that can use the CAC readers (MacOS? nope).

And if you loose the badge? Well, good luck on that one. Took me months to get a replacement. All the while, I couldn't enter any secured rooms, so I had to get issues a 'temporary' key card, and a 'temporary' badge ... which were EXACTLY like what we had before, only not at $200 a pop.

And the temp badges? They have HUGE text on them for the things that matter -- expiration date (the HSPD12 badges run for 5 years, no matter the length of your contract), affiliation (just says 'Contractor' in tiny type), and has an indication of your security access more than just foreign national / US cltizen / civil servant (I'm guessing because then they'd have to issue new people badges 3-4 times as their various background checks get done).

So ... more expensive, no new functionality that actually gets used ... and less secure, in that it's possible to enter the facility with an expired badge because the text is so tiny the guards can't read it, and they don't tie badge expiration to your contract, so a person with 1 year on their contract still gets issued a 5 year badge.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801860)

I like how these are such a screw up and their name is a homophone for cock in a certain US accent. I can just see a Kennedy proposing these cards in some government meeting.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801996)

Along the same lines I heard a story form a coworker who use to be in the Marines. When he was in they had 2 radios for the motor pool the PRC-77 and PRC-169 (I think those are the correct number) and PRC would be pronounced prick. Well as with all things new recruits working in the motor pool would be sent to go see the quartermaster (at the base he was at it was a Master Sergeant) to get a new PRC-E8. This usually ended with the ones who sent the new recruit off to get the PRC-E8 in trouble.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802054)

That's odd...the DoD CACs work fine on a variety of OSes. Yes, a bit more fiddly, but not a fundamental show-stopper.

I do agree on the other points, though - getting a replacement is a pain, and they're crap for physical security with humans involved. Of course, I've been to several places with swipe-in access, so I'm not entirely convinced on that point.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802192)

The CAC readers we are working with also work on Linux and Mac. Every laptop we buy now has a built-in smartcard reader.

We're putting a lot of effort into making these work right now. The big driver is being able to dump RSA tokens and replace them with the CAC cards. We're counting down the days we can tell EMC/RSA "Fuck you very much" for their bullshit.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802322)

Actually every single thing you wrote in this post is incorrect.

CACs are about $25/per.

CACs work fine in OSX at least, I should know as I use mine on a Mac.

and I'm not sure what you're blathering about access and dates and such.

Re:HSPD-12 badges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802462)

for what it's worth, CAC/PIV/HSPD-12 works fine on macos. http://militarycac.com/apple.htm (30 seconds of googling)

and there's native support in Windows 7. What does your network run on? If not Win 7 or OSX, what? I doubt it's 100% linux. So, still running XP?

Re:HSPD-12 badges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802536)

Some of what you've posted here is not true in all cases, e.g., CAC expirations. Check around.

Re:This aptly describes the problem. (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801804)

This is more accurate [despair.com] .

At least there is a "concernt" for privacy (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801686)

From the article:

In particular, Kundra is worried about the "mosaic effect," the unintended consequence of government data sharing, where data sets are combined and layered in ways that can strip away privacy and pose security threats.

Now granted he probably isn't concerned with the privacy of the individual citizen but that of government officials, but at least it sounds like there are some privacy concerns.

How can you take him seriously? (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801698)

"My view is we should only have three major data centers across the entire U.S. government," said Kundra.

Set aside the procurement debate for a moment and let this one quote sink in. Three data centers is not enough to give each of the branches of the military its own dedicated data center for operations. There are five (technically) branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Each one of those should have at least one "major data center" except maybe the Coast Guard.

Let's face it, Kundra doesn't appear to be any better than the very people he's criticizing.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801724)

I'll bite. Why does (technically) each branch need its own data center?

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801852)

To seperate the branches? To allow indepedent actions? I don't necessarily agree that the branches of the military are the only ones that should have their own data centers... but it has a *certain* internal logic at least.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801878)

Why do they need to be separated. Sounds more like a pride issue than a resource issue. If anything we should be reducing the number of branches.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801940)

I would think that it would help to consolidate all military data centers into a few (for redundancy). Better logistics for internal data sharing, less transmission of data to other centers... heck, you may even be able to roll FBI and the other acronyms into this center as well. It could be the Defense Data Center.

I also figure the Tax, Social Security, and other public services could share one. You could call this the Internal Data Center.

I don't see why they each need their own building, infrastructure, etc. You could theoretically set up a few dedicated/redundant data centers across the US and have a team dedicated to securing the data, keeping the system running, and bring everyone under one (figurative) roof. Military would have access to military data, IRS would have access to citizen tax data... the people working the center could do their jobs without having access to any private data. You'd have a few top secret clearance personnel who could swap out drives that fail and destroy the failures before leaving the "heart" and everyone else would have restricted access to the actual hardware. Heck, I can imagine all kinds of fancy workings to bring machines up to special rooms where maintenance would be performed without granting people access to other hardware as well.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

armanox (826486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801756)

Three is too little, I agree, but not because of military. It wouldn't be enough for each Department to have one (DOE, USDA, DOD, DOJ, DOT, etc). But of course, this is the country that values death and destruction above all else, so it would be the DOD controlling it all...(thinks spending cuts should start with the military).

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801822)

Most people consider the Marines part of the Navy. Because they are part of them.

So that would be Army, (Navy +Marines), and Air Force.

As for the Coast Guard, I think everyone would agree with you that they do not need a major data center.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801966)

What, tracking every ship that enters or leaves the US territorial waters doesn't take a data center? I'll bet they track a lot more than the Navy does...

(Fair disclosure: I work in the Coast Guard's data center.)

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802406)

Don't forget environmental protection, search and rescue, and law enforcement.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802308)

I'm not saying they do or don't require a data center but it doesn't matter what most people think. What matters is what they actually need or can utilize properly. The Marines are their own branch of the military. They are part of the Department of the Navy but that is different.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801828)

explain to me why we need that much overlap? i understand the different roles that each branch fills.. but there is zero reason why each of them can't use the same data center.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

Z_A_Commando (991404) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801930)

Are you serious?!? If that one data center is breached/destroyed/offline, the entirety of the US military has been laid bare. The is exactly the kind of situation multi-factor security and redundancy are designed to prevent.

On a separate, yet related, note, most major government data centers that are acknowledged by the government are owned and operated by the Department of Energy, even if they're used by other agencies (think National Laboratories).

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801992)

I assume they wouldn't have just one data center... but they'd consolidate all military data under one collective of centers distributed throughout the nation, buried in non-disclosed locations.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802326)

I assume they wouldn't have just one data center... but they'd consolidate all military data under one collective of centers distributed throughout the nation, buried in non-disclosed locations.

LIkely impossible. Each branch has systems, of systems of systems....many undocumented (no, they don't actually know how they all really interract)...many of them stove pipe systems with maybe special interfaces (and yes, sometimes even these are still sneakernet) to talk to each other. Old OSes and hardware....it is a mess. There is no standardized version of data between the branches....do a little research on DIMHRS, which didn't work out too very well trying to get all of them to just get manpower and pay on a single system.

And, you can't change a lot of these things either...because many times they way the do things isn't just policy, it is mandated by laws or a set of laws....going WAY back in history.

Consolidation? Sure, it would be a good modern way of doing things...but damned near impossible in reality with the old service branches.

And I've not even gotten into the red tape, bureaucracy, or "we've done it this way always" mentality in each branch.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802150)

If you read the comments before mine the guy was claiming that the CIO's comment of 3 data centers would be insufficient for the 5 branches of military.

my comment was wondering why the military would be unable to share data centers.

everyone knows that relying on a single data center would be stupid but then that would be one reason why he is recommending 3..

again back to the original question rather than "jumping to a conclusion" why exactly could the different branches of the military not share a data center(s)?

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801998)

explain to me why we need that much overlap? i understand the different roles that each branch fills.. but there is zero reason why each of them can't use the same data center.

Really? You can't think of at least a few good reasons without asking?

1. How about the kind of disaster you'd have if an adversary, say the PRC, were to get a guided missile destroyer through our naval defenses and put a cruise missile or three right into one of those data centers? Do you really want such "efficiency" that a well-coordinated attack could bring down essentially the entire military IT capacity with only a minimal amount of firepower being used by the enemy?
2. Operational security. The day-to-day operations of each branch aren't a need-to-know for the others. The Navy has no need to be kept abreast of where the Army is moving except when joint command decisions need to be made. Compromising one data center shouldn't compromise the operations of another branch. You don't want some hacker to break into the Army's data center and find the latest flight plans for the Air Force's nuclear bombers and the Navy's ballistic missile forces.
3. The military is not a monolithic organization. Each command in each branch should have its own modest-sized data center and backup site because each command has a separate task and/or is required to be able to operate independently. "The Army" doesn't go into Iraq. Certain units were pulled together and sent in together. Each of those was a separate organization under the Army. This works well for the taxpayer because there is a single "The Army" target for a hostile actor to disable.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802052)

Why do you assume that only one of those three data centers would host military stuff?

What makes you think that just because computers are physically adjacent that they can talk to one another?

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802382)

Maybe he was talking about VLAN hopping [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How can you take him seriously? (4, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802224)

So i assume the pentagon is a horrid idea and that we should never have the leaders of these branches in the same area as each other?

aside from your "cruse missile" (which by the way would work just as well now as it would then) comment the other stuff is already covered inside a data center - just because the info is in the same building doesn't mean the networks talk to each other - nor does it mean one side knows what the other is doing..

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802490)

Ah, but there's a way of dealing with the problem of having the leaders all taken out in what is known as a 'decapitation strike', as explained by General Buck Turgidson:

Plan R is an emergency war plan in which a lower echelon commander may order nuclear retaliation after a sneak attack if the normal chain of command is disrupted. You approved it, sir. You must remember. Surely you must recall, sir, when Senator Buford made that big hassle about our deterrent lacking credibility. The idea was for plan R to be a sort of retaliatory safeguard. I admit the human element seems to have failed us here, but the idea was to discourage the Russkies from any hope that they could knock out Washington, and yourself, sir, as part of a general sneak attack, and escape retaliation because of lack of proper command and control.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801874)

I think he's talking about Executive, Legislative and Judicial, you retard. The military isn't elected.

He's talking about "government". In particular "federal" government.

He's not talking about three letter alphabet agencies, or military branches, or the pentagon.

Civilian federal government.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801922)

Maybe he has in mind a different categorization: One data centre for each of the "common use cases" at http://aws.amazon.com/s3/#common-use-cases [amazon.com]

Why would one amazon/s3 be enough for everybody else :-)

Stephan

Re:How can you take him seriously? (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801950)

In the era of cloud computing, you should be able to do everything with a single data center. You would have three for redundancy and to distribute the load.

Only one? (1)

malsbert (456063) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801984)

Surly the the armed forces need more then ONE! I know there is only one Pentagon, And that simple fact implies; That the Pentagon is basically irrelevant! The .mil crowed may not be rocket scientists, But you can be damn sure; That none of those people, Will ever "put all their eggs in one basket", .mil history is filled with commanders that did just that, they even have a name for it; EPIC brain fart!

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802020)

Three data centers is not enough to give each of the branches of the military its own dedicated data center for operations. There are five (technically) branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Which, of course, brings up another question: Why do we need five branches?

Start with the obvious one: Why do we have the Marines and the Army? Isn't the job of both of them to run around and shoot people? Should it makes a difference that one rides a boat to get there and another one rides in a tank or Armored Personnel Carrier?

The Coast Guard is a bit different--they're actually part of DOT and they have non-military functions like rescuing people and inspecting ships.

But I think the concept is more that it might be cheaper to have three big data centers. Is there a reason that each military branch needs their own data center versus sharing with the other branches and saving money?

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802186)

The army is large and slow, great for fighting protracted wars...piss poor at expeditionary warfare. It takes months for the army to get in theater for war. Whereas the Marines are built for this, look at most of the humanitarian missions, quick engagements and rescue missions. A MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) can be anywhere in 24-48 hours and supply itself for 30 days, and bring in ground, air and logistical support to conduct the mission.
What we should look at is a smaller army, move more into the reserves and a smaller combat air force. We as tax payers get more bang for the buck with a Marine Corps than an army or air force.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

phatphoton (2099888) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802268)

Your ignorance astounds me.

Your Forgetting 2 (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802354)

United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

Shouldn’t all uniformed branches get their own data center? ;-)

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802058)

Yeah, pot calling the kettle black here, Kundra is just a buzz-word riddled blow-hard as far as I'm concerned and shouldn't have a job doing much more than basic coding. Or stay in a job for a little longer than six months, his tenure in the District itself was clouded by contracting improprieties with several firings and arrests--after his "timely" departure.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

g01d4 (888748) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802082)

There are too many contradictions. He want's more openess and to clamp down w/security=privacy as the same time. He's against the large contractor cabal but favors a one-size-fits-all, economy of scale, standardization. WTF?

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802152)

I disagree. I think if there's anyone who should be consolidating data centers, it's the military.

That said, it's never going to happen... The branches are notorious for epic turf wars.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802220)

Another poster mentioned that he wasn't talking about military, but I'll bite as to why your solution makes absolutely no sense.

However many data centers we have for the military branches should be shared between all 4. The worst thing we can do is compartmentalize each into a limited number of data centers. By doing this, you create a vulnerability. Since each branch, in theory, specializes in some aspect of warfare, you wouldn't want to create a situation where one nuke or one act of sabotage could take down a single branch's infrastructure. It would be much better for that attack to take down a certain percentage of each branch's infrastructure. To centralize military resources would be to ignore the beauty of DARPA's original vision behind the network they created. The more geographically diverse the network is, the more difficult it is to attack from the outside.

Re:How can you take him seriously? (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802304)

Why do we have five branches of the military (who should all work together but end up "competing" for resources) and why do they each need their own data (which won't be shared).

Re:How can you take him seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802558)

Since you think each branch of the military needs 'at least one major data center', I'm not sure you're right, either.

Each government entity needs to have data in multiple data centers, right? From there, let's plan N data centers for redundancy. Let's give them physical security to a crazy level: hardened, power-isolated, and sited in a secure military-guarded facility. Between those facilities, let's build the data redundancies and network requirements that make us happy. Finally, within those facilities, let's make 'em capable of being complexes of small-to-large data centers for (insert list of names, both governmental and military).

In such a case, various paranoid 3LA's may want their own building, secondary security measures, TEMPEST, data pipes, etc.

Seems to me, that'd be doable with 3 *complexes* of secured data center functionality. As for getting there, evaluate existing secure locations, pick one to consolidate towards, then hybridize it to allow governmental access if military or to heighten to military protections if civilian. Start implementing and consolidating. Rinse, Repeat.

Full disclosure: this puts me out of my current job -- my paycheck comes directly from a lesser federal data center. And I'm cool with the need to consolidate and merge data centers, since many projects I'm involved in are such infrequent tasks that we're not expert -- they'd be automatable in the above facility configuration. My problem with Kundra's plan is that it puts a lot of value on those 3 'targets'.

The resultant inflexibility is a whole 'nuther can of worms.

translator engaged (0)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801736)

very few companies that benefit from government spending

I think you meant to say "very few companies that take taxpayers to the cleaners"?

Regulatory Capture (3, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801752)

"'because they understand the procurement process better than anyone else.' He added: 'It's not because they provide better technology.'""

This is another example of Regulatory Capture [wikipedia.org] , where private entities use the regulatory process created for the public interest to forward their private interests.

Whenever we open up complex regulatory regimes (such as the incredibly insane Federal government procurement process, campaign finance regulations, etc.), inevitably someone will figure out how to game the system for their private benefit.

The best regulations are simple ones, as complexity breeds gaming. Complex regulations also encourage corruption on the government side as well.

Re:Regulatory Capture (1)

smerdyakova (2368004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802034)

Thanks for the link. If anyone can find it there's a wonderful though sadly out of print book entitled "The Federal Subsidy Beast" by Brian J. Finegan that describes the feedback loop between industries and government that ends up sidelining the citizenry.

Re:Regulatory Capture (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802176)

The Republicans favor the rich.
The Democrats create law so complex that only the rich have the resources to follow.

Re:Regulatory Capture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802184)

This. I once worked for a government contractor that sued the government because they purchased hardware from another vendor? We had positioned ourselves (based on the regulations) as really the only vendor possible of meeting the criteria for the hardware that was needed.

IT Cartel (2)

kalalau_kane (1621021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801770)

"very few companies" that benefit from government spending "because they understand the procurement process better than anyone else."

Too many IT contracts are written with overly broad personell and systems security requirements, essentially requiring that the people working on these contracts originally coming from military or government offices to start with. Essentially built-in job security for those leaving government jobs.

Par for Course (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801798)

Welcome to all government procurement of any sort. We have rules to prefer small businesses over big companies. So who gets this business? Not all the existing small businesses in town who know their product, can answer questions, keep stock on hand, are a generally helpful. They can't handle the bureaucratic overhead of government procurement.

Instead we have to buy from companies created for the sole purpose of being middle men to the government, whose only benefit is their understanding of the procurement process. Bonus points if they are owned by a woman or minority. They don't keep anything in stock, and add another 2-5 days to the shipping process compared to buying direct from the manufacturer. They are even more expensive than the local shops. They don't know what their products are used for and can only regurgitate what catalog in front of them says. But since they do so little they can turn over tons of revenue with only a few employees and thus remain a "small company".

Re:Par for Course (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801898)

Zalb ignifififirhqwo yomama goatpeuns 783unjoidkjas ass ass ass ass ass ass procure that butututututgh!

Re:Par for Course (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802004)

And typically they just sub-contract the system out to some large company.

Re:Par for Course (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802076)

I worked for a government contract that was up for bid every 5 years. It was a small disadvantage business set aside. So basically ever 5 years I worked for a new company working at the same job, same desk, and with the same government people. Only the owners of the shell company that ran the contract changed.

Re:Par for Course (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802170)

My company actually hired an employee specifically to handle procurement for one of our more needy government clients. We told them, "if this is how it's going to be, we are going to hire someone to do this and bill you for their time" and they were ok with it. Madness.

Like he was not on the gravy trian. whatever. (0)

sanzibar (2043920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801800)

trying to distance himself. ha if he had any real balls, he would have named names and gave clear examples.

Re:Like he was not on the gravy trian. whatever. (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801882)

But that would ensure that he couldn't get a nice high paying job after he finishes with the current administration by working with a major lobbying firm or government contractor. It is no different from those who go into the military stay for 20 years (at around age 40) and then go off and "work" for a defense contractor. Not only do they get the nice pension, but they make a metric ton of money at these companies.

Re:Like he was not on the gravy trian. whatever. (1)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801928)

Or released it on Wikileaks

Re:Like he was not on the gravy trian. whatever. (1)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802028)

trying to distance himself. ha if he had any real balls, he would have named names and gave clear examples.

And he would've come out with this when he was still in charge. It's funny how he only has the balls to make this statement when he's on his way out already.

Companies take advantage of government money.... (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801814)

News at 11.

Seriously... this is as obvious as saying that banks make money by taking advantage of existing regulations. It's deplorable, but it's not exactly surprising.

Not just an IT problem (5, Informative)

gmcraff (61718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801816)

It's a military, construction, health, fill-in-the-government-blank, problem.

General Dynamics, Raytheon, Boeing, Halliburton, etc provide a critical service: they understand government regulation. If you've ever seen a printed out copy of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, you'd be surprised that gravitational collapse isn't happening.

For most businesses, it's not worth taking a government contract until they're asking you to provide a COTS solution, where you know what you're selling, and the government pays you, and that's the end of it. The government is getting exactly what the commercial market gets. Firm Fixed Price contract, no surprises.

As soon as the government wants it customized in any way, and they're willing to pay you to customize it, that rabbit hole goes all the way down. Every stipulation of the contract must be assessed for compliance, and every assessment requires some kind of test, and every test has a schedule towards passage of the test, and every last one of these things costs time and resources, which means money, which the government is going to pay you, because the government wants its double cheeseburger in a way that no-one else wants it.

If you're an action oriented kind of entrepreneur, this will drive you insane. So you don't do it yourself. You go in as a subcontractor to one of the big Gov-BS-Handlers. You do the work, they firewall you from the BS, 50% for you, 250% for them (after change orders and spec changes and reviews and program management overhead) and everyone is happy with the $500 hammer (non-sparking, minimal toxic release, aircraft rated, 8 pound, loading bracket hinge, for the hitting of, one count)

Re:Not just an IT problem (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802444)

The problem is not exclusive to the government either.

Many large private companies also are encumbered with such bureaucratic process. Many electric utility companies that are semi-monopolies insulated from the market vagaries are worse than government. They would casually spend 25 million dollars to "upgrade" from PeopleSoft 8.1 to PeopleSoft 8.2 or whatever. Actual work will be done by some H1-Bs who get paid about 65K a year, but his body-shopping Indian company would bill someone for 125$ a hour, from there are series of shell companies would keep adding 10% at every stage till it eventually reaches the utility company at some insane 300$ a hour rate. The purpose of the series of shell companies is to hide the kick backs going to the top management teams that "approve" of this project.

Re:Not just an IT problem (2)

blackC0pter (1013737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802456)

I completely agree with this and I see it happen all the time. IMHO, the biggest issue with the government is that they always want to customize anything they buy. They'd be 10x better getting an off the shelf product and spending 1/5 the cost and 1/5 the time implementing the product. Maybe it doesn't give them everything they want but the reliability, cost and time to implement will more than outweigh the costs of going custom. Also, if anything goes wrong then they can pick up and move to another product. Once you go down the customized route, you are stuck with that product and vendor for a long time to come.

Also, how about we give incentives to government agencies to not use all of their grants? Right now they have no incentive to use only a portion of a grant. Once an agency is given money from the state/federal government for a project, they feel the need to spend it all otherwise they will lose that money. Don't forget that the money they received can only be used for the specific purpose it was requested. So they are going to spend it all in that one place when it might make more sense to put it in other places or...give it back unused! Let's also not forget that it's easy to find out how much money an agency received on a particular grant. So guess what the vendors bid on a project with a known budget? Even worse, so many agencies state the amount of money they have for a project. The bidding then becomes a competition of how close can you get to the grant value while still being under your competitors.

niGgA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801902)

unde3r the GPL.

a few more billionerrors are scheduled to happen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36801944)

are you still calling this 'weather'? the hymenology council is ready to release the origin (not monkeys) report that almost no one wants to read.

meanwhile, back at the raunch; there are exceptions? the unmentionable sociopath weapons peddlers are thriving in these times of worldwide sufferance, the royals? our self appointed murderous neogod rulers? all better than ok, thank..... us. their stipends/egos/disguises are secure, so we'll all be ok/not killed by mistaken changes in the MANufactured 'weather', or being one of the unchosen 'too many' of us, etc...?

                        truth telling & disarming are the only mathematically & spiritually correct options. read the teepeeleaks etchings. see you there?

                        diaperleaks group worldwide. thanks for your increasing awareness?

.NET? (1)

jinushaun (397145) | more than 3 years ago | (#36801956)

I wouldn't be surprised if he was actually talking about the proliferation of .NET contracts in the govt. After moving to DC from Seattle, I was surprised to see how prevalent .NET was in govt job listings. The problem with the .NET community is that it has too many overpaid and unqualified MCSE paper engineers, and for the govt to base its IT infrastructure on such tech is a big waste of money. The govt would do better to go open source.

Same old crap. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802098)

This is where the real government waste exists and this is exactly the sort of thing that will never be addressed. Instead useful programs are cut wholesale because that's what makes the most visible impact to your average ignorant voter.

A dollar spent is a dollar earned. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802574)

Every dollar spent by anybody is actually a dollar of revenue to the counter party of the same transaction. You spend a dollar on bread. Your grocer gets a dollar in revenue. Right?

Now think about wasted money. Wasted money is not cash burnt in the fireplace. It is just money spent, without adequate or reasonable return. For the counterparty to that transaction that money is unearned revenue, undeserved profit. When you say government is wasting 300 billion dollars, it represents 300 billion dollars of unearned undeserved income to people. They would fight tooth and nail to keep that breach open. They would not let those loopholes to be closed, the procedures to be mended. The looters are also actively aided and abetted by the congresscritters. That is why it is so difficult to cut down the waste and fraud in the government.

Who is in the IT Cartel (2)

byteherder (722785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802266)

The article did not name those companies that are in the IT Cartel. Let me start it off with the ones I know.

1. IBM
2. Accenture
3. Booz Hamilton
4. Deloitte
5. SAIC
6. HP
7. CACI
8. CSC

Why do they win all the IT contracts? They have huge staffs dedicated to understanding the myriad of procurement rules. The little guys don't stand a chance.


Can you name some more.

When Rules Get too Onerous (1)

banished (911141) | more than 3 years ago | (#36802494)

1. Make the laws on government bidding so complex that very few CAN understand them. Requires power.

2. Grease the skids to overcome the inevitable subjectivity inherent with people trying to interpret complex rules (crony capitalism). Requires money.

3. Shazam! You win the bidding process.

Lowest Bid + Generic Requirements = Govt Contract. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36802502)

telling the committee: '...We almost have an IT cartel within federal IT' made up of very few companies that benefit from government spending 'because they understand the procurement process better than anyone else.' He added: 'It's not because they provide better technology.'"

What do you expect to get when you take all the proposals for a contract and order them by cost. Then starting with the lowest bid, see it is meets the minimum requirements on the RFP. If so, end process and award contract. The other proposals are not even looked at. Also, most of the RFPs are written by people that do not truly know what the requirements should be so they make the requirements very general and open to interpretation.

So with this recipe for disaster, how can anyone truly expect to get anything but the bare minimum.

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