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8 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the Government enjoy access to the most advanced technology (specifically software) today?

    • Yes the Government enjoys access to the most advanced technology today.
      1
    • No, the Government does not enjoy access to the most advanced technology because it fails to satisfy the preconditions Prof. Schooner describes.
      3
    • No, the Government does not enjoy access to the most advanced technology despite satisfying the preconditions Prof. Schooner describes since the preconditions no longer lead to the desired outcome.
      3
    • No, the Government does not enjoy access to the most advanced technology. It fails to satisfy the preconditions Prof. Schooner describes. However, even if it did so, those preconditions no longer lead to the desired outcome.
      3


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Sorry, folks, here is the actual question.  Trying to learn the ropes with the polls:

 

Professor Steven L. Schooner states in his “Desiderata: Objectives for a System of Government Contract Law”:

 

Quote

“In the United States, we believe that, as a general rule, our government enjoys access to the best contractors, lowest prices, most advanced technology, favourable contract terms and conditions, and the highest quality goods and services. We think this is so because our system, for the most part, encourages participation by the widest possible pools of potential competitors; it consistently demonstrates that competitors will be impartially considered for award of our contracts; and it treats all contractors in a manner that balances appropriate risks with meaningful profit incentives and rewards.”

 

Does the Government enjoy access to the most advanced technology (specifically software) today?

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No, as a general matter, because the process takes entirely too long; Government agencies do not understand risk, Agile, and flexibility; and the Government does not have experts in its contracting and program management offices.  Most importantly, the process takes entirely too long.  We tend to buy our advanced technology from companies who are experts in being Government contractors, rather than companies who are experts in advanced technology.

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Guest PepeTheFrog

No.

Procurement Desktop-Defense (PD2), Standard Procurement System (SPS), ConWrite, also:

http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/newsusafs-f-35-lightning-ii-aircraft-faces-software-failure-4834439

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/08/radar-glitch-requires-f-35-fighter-jet-pilots-to-turn-it-off-and-on-again

(F-35)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HealthCare.gov

(HealthCare.gov, see 4.1)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=worst+government+software

(others)

PepeTheFrog wants to hear from some brave soul who can explain a "yes" answer.

Let's imagine the United States has the ability to execute "Operation Paperclip for (software) acquisitions."  Assume the new people can change the acquisitions statutes, regulations, and policy to their liking. From where (nation, institution, industry, agency, whatever) could the genius be stolen?

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PepeTheFrog,

You and I could provide the contracting genius, along with a few others we meet here.  And we don't need to change any statutes or regulations.  We can do an effective acquisition for advanced technology.  But, we will need the support of program managers, attorneys, procurement analyst reviewers, and so forth -- if they will support us and give meaning to the guiding principles of FAR 1.102 et seq., the FAR as written will let us do what we need to do.  Our own oversight bureaucracy kills us.

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Access, as in being able to use or get something, yes. The ease and cost of access is debatable, but generally the government has access to the most advanced technology and sometimes is a partner in creating the most advanced technology by funding research and development, etc.

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I hope our planes are unmatched and we'll one day have nuclear fusion, but I was cruelly limiting the question to software.  For whatever reason, it seems to be the worst match to our acquisition system.  I don't think we have a singe "yes" vote, but we do have some "fairness" supporters (about 1/3 as of now).

ADDENDUM: Also, the question was about the acquisition system, not the grant system.  So counting some of that research is cheating.

Edited by apsofacto
Second thought
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Guest Vern Edwards

The government gets the most advanced military technology from aerospace-defense contractors, because it pays for the development. Thus, Big Safari. But it doesn't always get the most advanced information technology, because much of that is developed by commercial IT firms. Those firms don't want to risk disclosure of their technical data and some are unwilling to put up with the government's slow, expensive procurement process. Given the increasing reliance of the military on IT, they want to get access to all that great new commercial technology. That's why the Secretary of Defense is sweet-talking Silicon Valley.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the people on this thread miss something when it comes to the adoption of advanced technologies, so let me attempt a contrarian view.  There are agencies who not only adopt but fund technological advancement.  It can be argued that Prof. Schoner's conditions are meaningless because technological adoption are not matters of competition but rather security risk and lifecycle costs.  Advanced technologies are adopted once they have met federal security specifications, and the cost for adoption is justified by the replacement costs of previously procured technology.  In other words, they are adopted when the products are ready to be adopted, and when agencies can afford to adopt.  The Sec-Def sweet talk to Silicon Valley is for these security considerations (DOD specific considerations) end up being baked into the products up front, rather than asking industry to change them once developed.

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"Advanced technologies are adopted once they have met federal security specifications, and the cost for adoption is justified by the replacement costs of previously procured technology."

Interesting assertion. Care to provide support?

To my way of thinking, the controversy between Palantir and DCGS is not explained by either Federal security specifications or a cost analysis/justification. For those interested, here's a link to an article from about a year ago on the controversy. https://gcn.com/articles/2015/03/31/dcgs-a-palantir.aspx

H2H

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  • 1 month later...

This is anecdotal, but I believe it reflects how the Government treats technology procurements. 

Our office decided to update all the employees with top of the line equipment including new state of the art mobile phones and lightweight computers.  The purchase of the new equipment was approved and the contracts awarded.  Once the equipment was delivered, the software was considered.  The equipment sat in a warehouse for more than a year before it was sent out to the workforce.  Meanwhile the "state of the art" moved on and the equipment was no longer top of the line (Iphone 5 well after the introduction of the Iphone 6 models), when it was received by the user.  The software is also more than a year behind, and we cannot even access our own agency webcasts because the browsers (IE and Chrome), are both so out of date they will not allow access to the webcast system.  Trying to get those programs updated is not automatic and requires the user to contact the help desk and request the upgrades.  That creates another problem when the upgraded program no longer works with existing printers, scanners and the like.  Also, the new computers did not come with DVD players/writers, which some offices still use, so each office had to buy their own separate DVD player/writer for each user.

I don't blame our leadership, they are trying.  I don't blame the contracting team, they too are trying.  The problem is that the procurement system is so cumbersome, so complex, so weighed down with processes and reviews, that it simply cannot respond quickly enough to purchase and deploy the latest technology.

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