Friday, January 31, 2014

Federal Contracting Part 4: Intervention and Rehab

The challenge faced by HHS and CGI Federal to build were exceptional. They attempted to tackle an extremely complex data integration and communications platform in the relatively short timeframe of just under two years. Even without the highly charged political environment that hovered over the project, threatening to rain down at every moment, I would consider the project to be as ambitious as any government IT project has been. Add to that the directives and regulations that the project had to be managed against and I would have though initial success to have been an improbable expectation.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Victim of Identity Theft?

I believe that I am the victim of identity theft.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. Perhaps my understanding of how personal data flows and security drove me to discount what it was I was seeing as “really no big deal.” Or, maybe I have become so cynical about how the definition of identity theft has expanded to include acts that I wouldn’t naturally consider a “theft” that I disregarded the event. Whatever the root cause of my denial, I’ve moved on. It’s time to deal with the problem and I plan to share my experiences every step of the way.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Federal Contracting Part 3: The Definition of Madness

There is a common assumption in government IT services procurement that past experience is an indicator of future success. But, when working with an industry that benefits mostly from the efforts of individual performers, the idea of ‘corporate’ past experience is a logical fallacy. Not only does it put the government at an immediate disadvantage, it favors repeating inefficient activities that benefit large contracting firms rather than promoting the innovation needed to move into new technology areas.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Federal Contracting Part 2: Good to be a Contracting Firm

This is Part 2 of my Federal IT Contracting series. Please be sure to check out my Introduction posting that includes a disclaimer about my past relationship with CGI Federal, the primary contracting firm responsible for the project.

My previous Federal IT Contracting posting presented a jarring insider analysis of how contracting firms realize success from failure. Some may interpret my analysis as a shot against contracting firms, illustrative of a tainted industry that deserves more oversight. With recent movements to reduce how much firm executives can earn despite very limited direct involvement on any customer-facing project, I admit to harboring some animosity towards those firms. But, having also served as an executive in a startup firm for several years, I submit that the government is far from blameless. That government managers often channel an insatiable childlike appetite for wants without really understanding what it is they need leaves them susceptible to failures like that currently embodied by

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Federal Contracting Part 1: Lucrative Failure

This is Part 1 of my Federal IT Contracting series. Please be sure to check out my Introduction posting that includes a disclaimer about my past relationship with CGI Federal, the original primary contracting firm responsible for the project.

This Washington Post opinion piece is accurate in its success through failure assessment. Where it fails is in not going deep enough into the cause, focusing instead on the visible symptom of executive advancement despite failure. I want to go deeper.

What We've Learned About Federal Contracting Through

The roll-out has been an epic debacle. If media reports are to be believed, just about everything that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did for the project was wrong. From the limited procurement process, to the management structure, the scope and requirements, and the final testing, HHS is suffering from poor execution at every level.

Most of the media coverage seems to imply that the failure conditions are exceptional. Federal contracting insiders will admit, albeit quietly in some circles, that the only difference with is visibility. Set aside the scrutiny, and the failure is, unfortunately, quite common.