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Let’s talk about the interesting topic of government procurement! Great ?!
Seriously, the way government agencies buy technology is a useful context for understanding the Pentagon’s abrupt cancellation of a technology project on Tuesday deemed essential to modernizing the US military. When government technology goes wrong, one of the culprits is often the budgetary apparatus in contrast to the pace of technology development.
The Department of Defense project, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known by the acronym JEDI as the word “Star Wars”, aims to purchase commercially available cloud computing software to put the US military on a new (-ish) technology wave. Microsoft was awarded a $10 billion contract in 2019, but it has been stalled since then by Amazon’s accusations that former President Donald J. Trump improperly interfered in the contract process.
Years of being in the mud of tech companies that they feel they have been unfairly crossed may spell JEDI. This contract war is unusually messy, but it also highlights a deeper problem that has made a lot of government technology go awry and shabby: At a time when a government agency buys something, that technology may be past its prime or no longer suitable for their needs.
The Department of Defense started planning for JEDI in 2017 and now it’s basically starting over by asking companies to submit new contract proposals.
Reading the news, I recalled a conversation last year with Robin Carnahan, who had just been confirmed as an administrator for the US General Services Administration. “Stop thinking about digital infrastructure the way you will finance,” said Carnahan, who at the time was working with US Digital Response, an organization that helps local governments modernize their technology. support a bridge.
What she means is that local, state and federal governments often pay a lump sum for roads or other major projects after a long period of consideration and then try not to think about it too much. in the next few decades.
But this poses an inherent loophole in government purchases when it comes to technology. The long budget cycles of the government and the mind set are inconsistent with the speed of technology and its need for continual improvement and maintenance.
Carnahan gave me an example of a state that purchased software for their unemployment insurance program. To qualify, a company proposing new software must submit a proposal to the state’s labor department, and then legislators must approve the amount. That process can take two or three years.
That means by the time a company gets the green light to build a website to process unemployment claims, the proposed technology is several years old. Take even more time to get the site up and running according to state specifications. That’s not a great result. You will not be happy if you buy a new smartphone and it comes with the features and functions of 2016.
Byzantine bureaucracies and long lead times also hinder technology outside of government. The car’s lengthy development process is one of the reasons in-vehicle display and entertainment systems can sometimes become frustratingly confusing. By the time they put it on your pickup, the technology may have been designed years ago.
The sad thing about government technology is that it’s not always so sad. The US government, especially the military and intelligence agencies, used to have the best technology in the world. The military has helped drive innovations including computer chips, powerful databases, and the internet.
Governments still spend a lot of money on technology, but the first and best customers for new products are often the public rather than the public sector. One reason is that we don’t spend years thinking about new technology.
Before we go…
This is possibly the biggest ransomware attack ever: Security experts say that up to 1,500 businesses could be affected by Russian cybercriminals, who have compromised software used by thousands of organizations and demanded a ransom to fix it. My colleague Kellen Browning writes. Additionally, hackers believed to be a Russian intelligence agency have allegedly breached a contractor for the Republican National Committee around the same time as the ransomware attack, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger reported. .
“The good, the meh and the bad”: Brian X. Chen writes that Microsoft’s first major update to Windows in six years features improvements including a more smartphone-like interface, but parts of Windows 11 also “feel uncomfortably familiar.” .
Pretending to be someone you’re not online is nothing new, but… A Vox writer says that new technologies and changing norms have led many people to pose as Black and Asian teen girls and women on apps like TikTok and Instagram. Vox writes: “It is easier than ever to assume an almost entirely new identity without regard for the consequences that behavior may have.
During the recent heatwave in British Columbia, mama bear and her cubs take a dip in a backyard pool.
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