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OSHA App Costs Gov't $200k

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the money-well-spent dept.

Government 234

itwbennett writes "How much does it cost to make a phone app to tell local temperature and suggest how not to get heatstroke, such as drink water and avoid alcohol? If you're the U.S. Government, it'll cost you a pretty penny. Using MuckRock to file a Freedom of Information Act, Rich Jones of GUN.IO discovered the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration paid $106,467 for the Android version; $96,000 for the iPhone version, and an additional $40,000 for a BlackBerry app that never got distributed."

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It was actually $467 for the Android version (5, Funny)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152930)

... plus $106,000 for change management.

Re:It was actually $467 for the Android version (5, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153116)

You know as well as I do that you can't function as a developer unless you spend atleast half your day reporting progress to management.
If the six layers of management above you don't know what you're doing, how could you?

Re:It was actually $467 for the Android version (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153296)

Oh, God, sing it on the freaking mountain. My elocutory skills have increased 10 fold since getting a job developing software with all of the play by play ridiculous detail I have to go into with management.

Re:It was actually $467 for the Android version (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153602)

I'm going to etch your comment onto something at my desk so that I will always remember it.

We were at the end a release and the two dev directors start hounding you "When will it be done? How much longer?", etc.

It gets to a point when you just want to say "It'll be done when it's checked in and code reviewed."

Change job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152932)

Damn, I have to start writing phone apps ! I could then live with one contract per year...

alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper wor (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152964)

alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper work

Re:alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153160)

If 4/5 of the 200,000 dollar price tag went to administrative and bureaucratic bs, I could still live off of what's left over. Especially if they just let me sit at the house and do the actual programming in my underwear. Based on the description, I feel like I could bust out v1.0 in about 2 weeks for all three platforms.

Re:alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153418)

No, you can't.

Re:alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153618)

Really? How would you know?

Re:alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153194)

$2000 for the apps and $198,000 for the FAR reporting.

Re:alot of that cost has to be overhead and paper (4, Informative)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153728)

No. A regular team will set you back around $100k a month: 7 people ($100/hr) just cost 5K daily. That gives you 2 developers, one system engineer, one designer, two testers and one project manager. Two sprints and you've spent the budget.

wow, a guy made a mistake (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152944)

if it was in corporate America nobody would ever hear about it. since it's government, every conservative creep in the world is going to dump in his pants over it. american politics are too stupid to care about.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153004)

if it was in corporate America nobody would ever hear about it. since it's government, every conservative creep in the world is going to dump in his pants over it.

Yeah, we'll hear no end of how the private sector could have done it cheaper and how they should have outsourced it to the private sector. I'm sure a private company like Eastern Research Group could have done it for much less than that!

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153218)

I'm sure a private company like Eastern Research Group could have done it for much less than that!

That depends on if it was a smart private company. Private companies are there to make money. If someone is waving around a huge fat wad of cash calling for an app, you really need to quote just under that amount, but deliver the best that money can buy for that price. Especially with governments, it isn't about offering the cheapest price (though that does come into it) but often if a budget has already been set and approved, anything under that budget is fair game the b'cats won't flinch. Now, I am not saying sell them a $10 app for $200k, but if you have $200k of development funds to use, give the customer an app that is worth what they paid for it.

This is where truly good companies stand out. If you have a ship of fools running a company, they will likely burn through development costs, making mistakes, paying the wrong developers and end up with a rubbish product. If you have a strong tight company, they will also go through the same budget, but the final product will be fantastic.

The problem is that sometimes it is hard to differentiate the the ship of fools company from the legend company - especially by b'cats who think that a power point presentation is a wonderful way to demo what a final product can do.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (2)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153470)

They almost certainly contracted a private sector business to do this for them, and this was the bill they got.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (4, Insightful)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153146)

Because I could give two shits less about what some private company does with their private money.

My governement, spending my money does peek my interest.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (-1, Flamebait)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153212)

The government spends the government's money, not your money.

I know the anti-society propaganda machine has been in full force since Reagan, but you pay money to the government in return for the privilege of living and working in your nation. It's then the government's money. The government represents the people, thus spends according to the people's wishes. It represents the people primarily by allowing the people to vote.

If you don't like the way the government's spending money, it's up to you to encourage your fellow man to vote differently..

Changing the whole way the world works [tm] really is that simple.

Or perhaps your alternative is even shitter than whatever's going on now - which, as the past few thousand years go, isn't that bad.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (5, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153342)

I get that many, many people believe that the people belong to the government (hence your post, for instance) but that is dead wrong. The government does not "represent" the people. The people ARE the government. The government's money IS the people's money. You don't pay the government for the privilege of living, and reading that actually makes me a little sick to my stomach. Your attitude is the problem, not the solution.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (0, Flamebait)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153392)

The people ARE the government.

So you are the government? That's great. Is everything going exactly as you want it? No? Then it must be that your assertion is wrong.

You don't pay the government for the privilege of living, and reading that actually makes me a little sick to my stomach.

Swallowing a straw man will make anyone feel a little queasy.

Your attitude is the problem, not the solution.

My attitude or your straw man's attitude? Because if you mean my attitude, I'm fairly sure it's your attitude too. You're still living under the protection of society, right?

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153222)

It's more likely it pique [reference.com] d your interest.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (4, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153284)

The version with spell checking costs $300K.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153736)

Indeed. I'm of the opinion that when a person confuses a word for its homonym, then they don't really know what they're actually trying to express, and as such, their words, in general, are not worthy of consideration.

If something "peeked your interest," well, that's just gibberish; you're just babbling. I thus presume that you don't really know what the fuck you're talking about.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153154)

If it was in corporate America, whoever authorized it would be fired and the CEO would have some explaining to do to the shareholders. "Nobody" would hear about it since it doesn't really affect anyone.

This, however, is the government wasting everyone's money.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153170)

If it was corporate America, the company that spent money in this fashion might go out of business. That is how the market works.

Your defense of government is shameless. Your defense of an expense useless app as a "mistake" is indicative of the stupidity of the statist crowd.

I expected nothing less from the Slashdot crowd.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153224)

Are you part of this Slashdot crowd, good sir?

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (1, Troll)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153308)

If it was corporate America, the company that spent money in this fashion might go out of business.

Hahah. No, the company that spent money that way would then proceed to A) pay a PR firm to drive up the value of their stock, B) let the CEOs sell off some of their options, C) dilute the value of their stock D) sell privileged shares to exclusive private investors, E) file for bankruptcy and shaft the stockholders F) emerge from bankruptcy after letting a few executives move on to better paying positions at different companies with lovely severance packages F) find more fools to pour in more "venture capital" for a new effort G) put their former executives on the Board of Directors because obviously they have tons of free time at their new day jobs H) Hire the Board of Directors of the company where the old executives got their new jobs into executive positions, and pay them higher salries as last time I) goto A)

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153430)

Ya, and depending on how involved those tasks are, that doesn't sound all that unreasonable, it's just an excuse of politicians to yell about things. Developer churn is about 10-11k/month at the best of times, so 10 'man months' of developer time (3 people for 3 months + some of a manager) gets you pretty close to those numbers. In all of that you have to develop, verify, test, test compliance (accessibility etc.) before you can distribute.

Those figures actually seem pretty reasonable. Not only do you have a 'developer' but you have to have an artist, there's oversight and meeting time to arrange it etc. Oh and since it's a private company, they need to be making moneywhich is probably 10-20 %. +

I'm working on a mobile project right now, where we have 9 'sub modules' of the app, which are done, and we're going to add 3 more across 3 platforms, one for bus location services, one for building room locations, one for exam schedules. The planning for this involved 7 people, (this is for a student project that will be deployed for a production system), two people from ITS, the two course developers/instructor/TA (one of those is me), two people from legal, and security about how we handle some information with students (or don't), and then the undergraduate chair. We've had two meetings already, which if you price it out, for the work done for the meetings plus development time, you're looking at already having spent 10k or so, and we haven't actually got formal requirements, nor have we let students touch a line of code yet. This is going to run, just on our end, about 40-50k, and that's with students doing the actual programming. And we already have art assets to be pulled from our communications department, but those cost money to make too, and the actual services themselves needed to be created (which cost a LOT of money, we're just doing the client).

So in short, that seems about realistic. And that's the problem, people are going to jump up and down and complain, but from what I can tells this seems about reasonable value for money. You may disagree with if the money should have been spent at all (and that's a valid ideological position I suppose), but it doesn't seem like it's that far off base.

Also, I'd kinda like to see the government offer more web and mobile services where appropriate. That might mean that you spend some time on simple stupid things while you learn just what is involved, and as with any spending programme, some things you spend money on will turn out badly. But that's alright.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153544)

You don't need to be a conservative to make an honest statement about the inefficiency and waste of government. It shouldn't cost 200 grand to put out a couple of simple smartphone apps that any of us could write in an afternoon for maybe a few hundred bucks of our time. This is a legitimate recurring issue that needs to be addressed.

Re:wow, a guy made a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153794)

200k does sound high until....

You pay your developer (1-3 weeks of work).
You pay your PM (1-4 weeks of work)
You pay your OTHER developer for the host side (2-3 weeks of work)
You have some sort of 'dude in charge' who is making sure the data feeds work...
You pay your lawyers to get the contract 'just right' (and the gov will want that)
Oh and then some profit.
Oh and the EXTENDED support.

So yeah 200k is probably high. But it depends on if it was a 1 guy shop cranking out some crap app that support will be gone in 2 months. Or someone setting up a hosting application that will be around for a long time...

Drop in the bucket... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152950)

Compared to the amounts we've spent on the recent wars.

Re:Drop in the bucket... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153164)

Compared to the amounts we've spent on the recent wars.

Show me an iPhone app that can replace a soldier, and maybe we'll get those costs down.

Re:Drop in the bucket... (1)

Shazback (1842686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153210)

There's an app for that!

Re:Drop in the bucket... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153398)

Compared to the amounts we've spent on the recent wars.

Show me an iPhone app that can replace a soldier, and maybe we'll get those costs down.

Angry Birds?

Summary can't add (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152968)

The iPhone version was $56,000. The Blackberry version was $40,000. Together, they were $96,000. It says this very clearly in the original scan.

Re:Summary can't add (3, Insightful)

dredwerker (757816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152994)

The iPhone version was $56,000. The Blackberry version was $40,000. Together, they were $96,000. It says this very clearly in the original scan.

It doesn't sound that much once you have dealt with specs and tenders with govt orgs.

Re:Summary can't add (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152996)

And obviously you're a stupid american who can't read.

Re:Summary can't add (0)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153118)

And obviously you're a stupid american who can't read.

If she couldn't read then how in the fuck did she respond? Obviously, she can read. So what does that make you? Stupid Nationalist Bigot?

Re:Summary can't add (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153710)

Whoever nodded this flame bait, your mom sucks donkey balls. There's some flame for you, bitch.

Re:Summary can't add (0)

Again (1351325) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153054)

The iPhone version was $56,000. The Blackberry version was $40,000. Together, they were $96,000. It says this very clearly in the original scan.

Where does it say that?

The iPhone version cost $96,000, and a BlackBerry app that never got distributed cost an additional $40,000.

Re:Summary can't add (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153152)

Simple:

in the original scan.

You did actually read my post, right?

Estimates for the additional programming and testing necessary to ensure similar functionality and accessibility access across the available iPhone and BlackBerry platforms are $56,000 and $40,000 respectively.

Re:Summary can't add (0)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153504)

Hello!

I would like to ask a question in your journal, but it's been archived.

Re:Summary can't add (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153654)

I would have done it for $10,0000 for each platform. I never did any bb dev, so I'd outsource that to one of the many mobile developer bid sites for $2k and keep the change.

Re:Summary can't add (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153696)

50k to develop an app? How is that high, again?

Sounds like someone is unfamiliar with developing real budgets for real companies.

Sounds normal (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153006)

They are not developing it in house so it's contracted out. You basically pay about the developer's work + support + your usual for profit over the top charge you know you can charge government. Contracting out work to contractors (who know how to deal with the government) is alot different then contracting it out to actual developers. Of course, support cost doesn't come to play into this as it's never been released but those prices generally include that. Dealing with government is usually a large hassle and priced accordingly alot of times (not that contractors don't take advantage of this fact either since it means a higher barrier of entry which creates less competition).

This sounds like an article (4, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153020)

By someone that's never written anything more complex than an Excel Macro. Programming is hard. I mean that. I've written some applications myself, and making it reliable (which is kinda the point for something like this) and useful is not that simple. $200k for a professionally built application that runs on reliable on 3 platforms isn't that much. In programming, everything is always harder than you thought it was going to be.

Re:This sounds like an article (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153130)

I don't know about that... Android and iOS offer very easy to work with developer APIs, I have personal experience. In 5 lines of code on iOS you can request the GPS location of the phone, then you just query the weather data from a public source... never done this personally, but I am sure there are weather data providers available for cheap or free....

If all this app does is display the weather, and display hardcoded recommendations based on that weather, any competent developer could have this done in a day... of course since this was a more professional job there is far more people involved, so with all the beurocratic nonsense that goes into your average disfunctional R&D unit I would be surprised if this took more than 2 weeks.

Re:This sounds like an article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153134)

The price isn't entirely unreasonable for what they wanted... but the end product is total garbage. total shit.

Re:This sounds like an article (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153144)

Except in this case, it apparently cost $200k and it *still* wasn't professionally written. According to the author it was unstable and inaccurate.

Re:This sounds like an article (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153176)

I really wish we could see the app, a screenshot or anything. The story here hinges on how useful / trivial / pointless it is.

Re:This sounds like an article (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153318)

You mean like, if you had read the fucking article? [imgur.com] Or were you going for sarcasm?

Re:This sounds like an article (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153180)

$200k for one month worth development??? Sounds good, please, don't hesitate to send the contract to me, and i will make it for half the price, and then have 11 months rest on some sunny beach, with cocktail, and, you know, the usual suspects around...

Re:This sounds like an article (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153484)

oh? You'll need to pay for clearance..and pay the person who submit the bid, and then time doing specs, and servers, and connection, and testing, and rent, and documentation, and taxes.

Have you ever ran a business?

They should have developed it in house.

Programming is hard (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153330)

Not really. Not saying its trivial, but with 99% of the applications out there, the actual coding isn't all that hard for someone who does it professionally, but it *is* time consuming to do it right.

What *is* hard is getting the requirements from your client, getting them to stick with it long enough to finish the project, and then supporting them afterward.

Re:This sounds like an article (1)

anonymov (1768712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153684)

That part about "never written anything more complex than an Excel Macro" probably explains why programming is hard for you.

Any job is hard for unskilled person, but for anyone with programming experience looking at such contracts amount of kickbacks is pretty obvious.

The estimation of those $106467 as $467 for an undergrad to write the actual crapplication (did you even look at the app's description? That's something out of "hack together with some JS and PHP for my homepage after reading For Dummies book" category), $1000 for his manager, $5000 for manager's boss and $100000 to split between the guy who approved the contract and the guy promising the kickback looks pretty plausible.

This kind of government contract kickbacks are rather popular, as general public doesn't know shit about IT, except "It's hightech and buzzwordy, so must be real complicated and expensive" and actual project costs can be brought rather low with most limiting factor being cost of the hardware.

paperwork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153022)

a large part of that was probably spend writting up a spec, a contract, a detailed list of what part would cost what, etc. etc.

Hey Muslims! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153038)

You're a bunch of fucking kooks. Your religion is shit. I wipe my ass with the Koran. I hope you all just die off so the rest of us can get on with a civil society.
 
Fuck Mohammad. Fuck Allah. Fuck Islam!!!!

Re:Hey Muslims! (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153250)

Man, you are sick, you wanna what, to fuck 2000-3000 years old remains of dead man!!!

Re:Hey Muslims! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153482)

But your the same fucktard that believes human generated co2 causing warming.

I would take a Muslim any day over one of you AGW cult freaks!

Dog bites man. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153058)

Is this news?

Now, if it were a "Money Saving" app, you'd be on to something.

Planning (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153060)

I'll bet most of that cash went into the rounds and rounds of planning and back-and-forth that come with ANY government project planning process, followed by user testing and compliance analysis. The actual coding process was probably less than 10% of the cost. That's still high, but gov't contractors are very well compensated.

Re:Planning (1)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153168)

The app doesn't actually work. An example was it giving 140 degrees outside during winter in Philly.

How much user testing could they possibly have done?

Re:Planning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153282)

Kelvin?

Re:Planning (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153590)

This app worked fine on my devices.
What we have here is:
A person notorious anti government
A person who doesn't know what a heat index is
And someone who makes shit up.

So take everything that site has to offer with a grain of salt.

Can you really trust a review of this app by someone who doesn't know what a heat index is?

The acquisition process is broken (2)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153066)

This is what happens when you rely on a a complex bureaucracy to screen even minimally difficult acquisitions. All of the bureaucratic red tape exists to be able to say "we can account for your money" to the tax payer, but what the tax payer really wants is just to get the damn job done cost-effectively. For a lot of federal projects, projects a few million dollars or less, the simplest route is to give a federal PM a budget, give them the freedom to hire contractors off monster.com and get the work done.

But that would require throwing out the whole feel-good kabuki that lets them employ thousands of paper-pushers whose job is to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed, but are significantly less useful than tits on a bull when it comes to actually preventing serious wastes of money.

Re:The acquisition process is broken (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153270)

Don't forget that the happy contractors are bribing, i mean giving for free money for the local congressman' election campaign, something that your cost effective little guy could not, and would not afford.

Re:The acquisition process is broken (5, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153300)

All of the bureaucratic red tape exists to be able to say "we can account for your money" to the tax payer, but what the tax payer really wants is just to get the damn job done cost-effectively.

At least until there's some scandal. Then those same taxpayers start yelling about "why wasn't there anybody to check this stuff out?"

Keep in mind that the bureaucracy didn't just appear out of thin air. It came about because of scandals. We taxpayers want our tax dollars to not end up in some political crony's pocket, so there has to be lawyers to make sure this doesn't happen. There have to be accountants who track the money and make sure that it goes where it's supposed to go. There have to be auditors who make sure that the government is getting what it paid for.

It's really easy to have the knee-jerk reaction--"WHAT!? $100,000 to develop an app that I could probably write in a weekend?!" And I agree wholeheartedly with that reaction. The question is, would you rather pay $100,000 to make sure that the app appears on the other side or would you rather just write a check for x dollars and not have any idea what happened to that money? Nope, sorry, you can't have both.

Re:The acquisition process is broken (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153614)

Well knucklehead, maybe you should have put in a bid for less money.

Of course, you can't because it's a lot more expensive to make an app then people think. Coding is the cheapest part.

depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153082)

There is a whole little industry of shell companies that 'deal' with the gov'ment for contracts. But for a while it was mostly 'hardware'. With software's little brother.. apps there is no limit what a smart, well connected individual will be able to steal from the tax payers.
I do not, for one second, believe that this is a case of incompetence. Someone was paid not to see. That is the beaurocratic overhead, as it was nicely put, TFA referred to.
Depressing. Fucking depressing.

And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (5, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153084)

The project wasn't completed by a government developer. It was done by a contractor, because everybody knows that the government is inefficient and costs a lot of money.

So they demand that they outsource it to the private sector, which means all kinds of extra overhead. Private contractors, being driven by the profit motive, will turn in crappy work unless you spend huge amounts of effort clarifying precisely what's required, followed by meetings to ensure that they have done it. Just the product spec meeting cost more than the time spent actually doing it. All because the Government is Bad.

So the next time, they're going to install even more extra levels of control, thus raising the costs. The alternative, decreasing the right-wing screech machine so that the government could just let some in-house developer bang out an app for a request that somebody needs, won't even be considered as an option.

Re:And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153192)

At least they didn't hire a new government employee, buy a building, and set up a department of application development for the constituents of some congress critter to buy a vote that we'd be paying for every year till they die.

Re:And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (0)

gregulator (756993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153216)

The alternative, decreasing the right-wing screech machine so that the government could just let some in-house developer bang out an app for a request that somebody needs, won't even be considered as an option.

And the left-wing, apparently, won't consider getting rid of OSHA altogether; let alone NOT making pointless fucking phone apps for no one to use.

Re:And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153372)

And the left-wing, apparently, won't consider getting rid of OSHA altogether

...because we are all looking forward to our kids telling our grandkids how we died of mesotheleoma, or falling off a substandardly built scaffold, or from a chemical leak within an enclosed space.

Re:And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153390)

It doesn't get better if they do it inhouse. When was the last time you heard "oh, I'm so glad the TSA are government employees and not private security firms!" Never, that's when.

Different situations call for different things. In theory, application development like this should be outsourced. Are you seriously proposing OSHA should hire a team of programmers to produce a single one-off app? Who wouldn't have anything further to do afterwards? Of course not. The problem is that the market of government contractors isn't free. The job goes to whoever makes the best contributions or who employs people in a certain congressional district. There is no simple fix for this problem, unfortunately. Well, besides firing every single last congressman and senator, which is a good idea but practically impossible.

Also, no conservative will be in favor of installing more controls: that shows a clear misunderstanding of a fundamental right-wing tenant, which is and has been for a long time smaller government (a large part of the point of independent contractors). A few people who claim to be conservative are in favor of larger government, but they are by far the exception.

Re:And it'll cost MORE next time because of it (2)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153438)

The project wasn't completed by a government developer. It was done by a contractor, because everybody knows that the government is inefficient and costs a lot of money.

So they demand that they outsource it to the private sector, which means all kinds of extra overhead. Private contractors, being driven by the profit motive, will turn in crappy work unless you spend huge amounts of effort clarifying precisely what's required, followed by meetings to ensure that they have done it. Just the product spec meeting cost more than the time spent actually doing it. All because the Government is Bad.

So the next time, they're going to install even more extra levels of control, thus raising the costs. The alternative, decreasing the right-wing screech machine so that the government could just let some in-house developer bang out an app for a request that somebody needs, won't even be considered as an option.

Speaking as someone who works at a contracting firm: It's not simply that the government is inefficient. It's that they don't have the expertise and can't recruit or retain the expertise.

They're actually acutely aware that they're spending other people's money, and as such they have tons of controls to prevent wasting money, which usually means they that are highly risk-averse. So if you're a professional looking to do cutting edge stuff, you simply don't go into the government. Further, everything is based on rank and seniority, so if you're a young wunderkind, you're not going to be rewarded for your talents. Worse, you're going to have to take direction from your mediocre boss who, even if he recognizes your talent, can't reward you.

Private contractors are usually people like me who were in the government (or military, in my case) and still want to make a difference by working as closely as they can. If there were a way I could do what I'm doing now and still be in the Army (or, hell, I'd go to the dark side and join the Air Force), I'd do it. But I would have had to wait 10 years before I was senior enough to get to choose what I wanted to do. Instead, I get out, and within a few months I'm doing exactly what I want and what I'm good at.

All because the Government is Bad.

Really, the only "bad" party here is you. You're self-righteousness is matched only by your ignorance and stupidity: you've clearly never actually worked with the government, you have no idea what the problems are, and yet you're ready to lay blame and insult the men and women who are seriously committed to making our government work. Most of the contractors working for the government are ex-military or ex-government themselves, but you dismiss them as some idiotic caricature of Capitalists Motivated By Greed. Fuck you, buddy.

Wow, Slashdot (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153090)

I have no idea how this made front page...

Sounds reasonable. (5, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153136)

$96000 / $150 per hour = 640 hours, 640 hours = 16 man-weeks. You have a team of four people working on it for four weeks, you rack up about that much cost. And $150 an hour billed to the government is cheap.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153306)

Four people working in tandem for four weeks is about right for a weatherbug app. It's not like this is one of those problems that's been repeatedly solved already, nor is this something that you could basically have picked up off anyone's app store or repository pre-written except for a few hardcoded recommendations and a few extra bugs to make it less stable than a normal commercial app. And, yeah, $150/h billed to the government is cheap, since taxpayer funds and the debt burden placed on future generations basically constitute an unlimited pool of money. This is dead on par for the course; I don't see what people are complaining about.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (3, Informative)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153346)

Check out How much does it cost to develop an iPhone application? [stackoverflow.com] for a few numbers that are in line with what you roughed out here. There seems cause to complain about the quality of the result, but the price tag itself isn't surprising at all. $150 an hour is also cheap for a good mobile phone developer, given the rampant gold rush speculation driving up salaries in that section of the market right now.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (1)

LeanSystems (2513566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153444)

Your link says twitterific took 200 hours. This guy is claiming 400 hours for something that is probably much simpler (mot really sure, but it would seem that way if TFA is anywhere near accurate about the features). Also that link has many people calling BS on the answer, stating instead that it would be less.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153682)

Uh.. The author of Twitterific says it took well over a 1000 hours just to do the development.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (1)

gazuga (128955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153698)

Re-read the link, specifically the post by chockenberry who is apparently one of the devs for twitterific. He says that the project took way more than 200 hours. The first poster "guesstimates" 200 hours, but is clearly wrong.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (1)

LeanSystems (2513566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153404)

How in the world do you think 16 man-weeks is anywhere near reasonable. I put together a website/app that auto loads locally stored pictures to the website and automatically displays them in galleries based on the folder structure... total labor 16 MAN-HOURS! While I was watching TV the whole time.

And if you think the contracting/bureaucracy is the problem, I am willing to bet there is at least one decent programmer on the OSHA payroll that could have knocked this out in a few weeks at most! Why even outsource it?

And I drew something with crayons once (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153534)

Why can't I sell it for the same price as a picasso?

Re:And I drew something with crayons once (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153640)

Because you're not selling to the government, duh.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153540)

I work for a company that provides services to governments. We discovered a bug on a single line of code which caused us to have to release three new builds of the software. Simple bug, simple fix, time it takes to get it from understanding the bug to releasing the new code was about 80 hours, involving 10 people. It sucks that the end product was apparently really crappy, but that sounds like failure to vet.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (3, Insightful)

DynamiteNeon (623949) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153466)

Also factor in that a lot of people just look at the time it would take to write code, but ignore all the time it takes to sit down with a client, find out what they need, do design, possibly do some prototypes, jump through whatever other hoops the client expects from you, write documentation....coding is only one step in the process. Many contractors screw themselves over by estimating TOO LOW because they ignore all the mundane stuff and end up losing money on projects.

I'm not saying all that had to go into this project, but don't assume that just because you can copy and paste some code from the internet in a few hours to do something similar that that was all that went into the work.

Re:Sounds reasonable. (1)

LeanSystems (2513566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153656)

Those are good points but I think that's a reason to have programmers on staff. I am guessing this app could have been done in a month's work (160 hours) including all those other steps. It just isn't that complicated.

Pay that guy $120,000 and this app costs $10,000. Maybe x3 to port to 3 phones. Although that brings me to the point... WHY ISN"T THIS JUST A WEBSITE! Seriously... this could have been done in a mobile formated website in days! Why is everything an "app"?

The Real Question (0)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153166)

The real question is: How many lawsuits or industrial actions will be averted because of this app? If the legal fees alone would cost more, then it's a pretty good idea.

Different reaction to costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153188)

As a software engineer, my first thought was "Wow, only $200k? They must have found some really cheap programmers!"

Professional developers are expensive. Given that the government is rarely given the authority to directly hire software developers and instead has to hand off work to a contractor, it becomes even more expensive.

Ha! Bunch of losers! (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153204)

You're just a bunch of losers! We (Austrian) got a whole new government-website for just € 500,000 ... with full-text-search (yes, that was the argument why it's so expensive)! Not just a lousy app...bah...

Just downloaded the Android version (4, Interesting)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153234)

So I just installed the Android version of OSHA Heat Safety Tool to take a first hand look and it really is total crap. This is like something a kid would write in python for an intro to programming class. This "app" could have been written in a day by any one of half the people on Slashdot. In fact, I would be surprised if it did take more than a day to develop.

Re:Just downloaded the Android version (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153680)

Looks fine to me.
Writing an app is the cheap part

Of course, I wouldn't expect someone like you to understand business.

Re:Just downloaded the Android version (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153738)

By all means, enlighten me. There's no need to be a dick. Perhaps I'm just new around here : p

Industrial strength cluelessness (3, Informative)

drstevep (2498222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153354)

The only way to describe most of the comments here is "industrial strength cluelessness." As in, the coments' authors don't have a clue about product development. They would have made the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movie in the 40s, "Hey, I have a keyboard and Jimmy's dad has a monitor, let's write an app!"

Yes, the government holds contractors on tight leashes. Contract assignment is being done more and more heavily based upon past performance -- your last few contracts were duds, you're less likely to get the next one.

And yes, there is a lot of time spent on product specs. Full life cycle SDLC. Agile development where is is appropriate. Understanding the target before you write a line of code.

Exactly the opposite of what most of the code monkeys making comments above are used to.

So yes, there will be specs written before the product is architected. And it will be written for maintainability. And it will be tested before release. And yes, during the initial development period, this costs money. Because, and remember this, there isn't revenue built into the back end (it isn't "sold" or "advertising supported") to pay for fixes, rewrites, and handling customer complaints.

Disclaimer: I'm a government contractor. I don't code. I'm part of the analysis, review, and verification process. And I've seen a lot of extremely complex systems go out on time and work well when released.

Code is posted (4, Interesting)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153426)

Here is a link to the code [osha.gov]

- (float)getHeatIndex:(float)temp:(float)humidity {

        NSLog(@"[getHeatIndex] temp: %f, humidity: %f", temp, humidity);

        float hIndex =
        -42.379 + 2.04901523 * temp
        + 10.14333127 * humidity
        - 0.22475541 * temp * humidity
        - 6.83783 * pow(10, -3) * temp * temp
        - 5.481717 * pow(10, -2) * humidity * humidity
        + 1.22874 * pow(10, -3) * temp * temp * humidity
        + 8.5282 * pow(10, -4) * temp * humidity * humidity
        - 1.99 * pow(10, -6) * temp * temp * humidity * humidity; //hIndex = round(hIndex);
        NSLog(@"-Heat Index: %f", hIndex);
        return hIndex;
}

There's probably a reason it's calculating 140F in boston.

What do you mean? Governments are not efficient? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153436)

are you telling me that governments are not efficient at something? Are you saying they don't care about the spending because they don't have to balance the books because they can just tax, borrow and counterfeit more? How is that post office doing?

Re:What do you mean? Governments are not efficient (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153734)

By all reasonable metrics, the US government is more effecient then business.

Fell free to read the budgets, projects, reports. Warning: You need to be smart, read for hours without being distracted and do math.

They care a lot about spending, it's just that the media doesn't care a lot about truth.

The post office? is fine. It movies 40% of all mail in the world, and private delivery business use the USPS for delivery becasue it's cheaper and more efficient.

Sorry to burst your bubble.
Is there a problem? yes. Is it USPS fault? no. It's the treasure taking many, many billions away from the post office and not returning it and then refusing to let the USPS account for it on there books for retires.

I better get with the prgram (1)

Zamphatta (1760346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153530)

I'm really undercharging.

Cash for clunkers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153624)

Better than spending $3 billion dollars destroying 690,000 perfectly usable automobiles.

// default location, for testing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153632)

The code has a default Lat/Lon. I wonder if it's the guys house?

// default location, for testing.
  curLat = 42.46;
  curLon = -71.25;

Google Map of Location [google.com]

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