Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
I'm not the only who gets the Apple Fail and Obamacare Fail Analogy. This mornings NASDAQ Briefing had this commentary attached... Note that Apple spent $150,000,000 to develop the iPhone and the Federal Government is up to over $600,000,000 to setup a website to connect to insurance companies... Do you understand why it is a bad idea to continue to rely on the Federal Government to do things best left to the private sector?
Why Government Tech Is So Bad
Just before Healthcare.gov hobbled online, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, compared the federal health-care exchange to her iPad's new operating system.
If users found a few bugs in their iPads, she argued, most wouldn't consider them a complete disaster. Instead, they'd recognize that technology is complicated, that errors are common, and they'd wait for an update. Apple Inc., she added, has "a few more resources" than her department, so "hopefully [citizens will] give us the same slack they give Apple."
That argument is as clueless as it is misleading. While it's true that Apple is fantastically wealthy, its product-development costs aren't necessarily greater than those of the federal government. As Fred Vogelstein reports in his coming book, Apple spent about $150 million developing the iPhone. The health-insurance exchange--which, let's remember, is merely a website meant to connect citizens to insurance companies, something quite a bit less complex than Apple's groundbreaking miniature computer--so far has cost at least $360 million, and possibly as much as $600 million.
So how can the government spend so much more on technology and not get anywhere near equal results? That gets to the larger problem with Ms. Sebelius's iPad argument: When Apple royally screws up, the world doesn't cut it any "slack," and that's a good thing. Note what happened last fall, when Apple replaced Google Inc.'s maps app with its own half-baked version: iPhone users rebelled, the tech press went ape and, within a few days, Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized and eventually fired the company's mobile-software chief.
In consumer tech, performance matters. When things go wrong, customers balk, investors flee, and heads roll. In the government, despite several attempts at reform, few of these consequences seem to apply.
Isn't it time that changed? Healthcare.gov--which has been described as a failure by many experts, including supporters of the health law--is only the latest in a series of faulty, overpriced governmental tech launches during administrations of both parties.
It doesn't have to be this way. There's nothing inherent about the phrase "government technology" that should inspire a parade of incompetence; the tech needs of the feds don't have to be vastly more complicated, expensive or legally daunting than the rest of the world's. Instead, the problem is a lack of accountability. As Ms. Sebelius's comments underscore, there's an expectation, bolstered by the historical record, that the government can't do tech well, so we're all expected to forgive its glaring shortcomings.
The truth is that the government could revamp its tech house. For less money than we currently spend on IT, and with a smidgen of political will, we could remake the nation's IT infrastructure using off-the-shelf hardware and software and the best tech practices employed by the world's most admired tech companies. If we do so, dealing with the government--whether for health care, contracting, taxes, or for anything else--could really be as painless as buying a book from Amazon.
Though everything in Washington is partisan these days, this thing doesn't have to be. Both Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to get on board with tech reform; it would improve how we all interact with the government and make the whole system more efficient and affordable.
Tech companies, too, should fight for a new way. Today a small number of insiders are awarded the bulk of federal IT contracts. Reforming the way the government buys and uses tech would open up a vast market to companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon.com Inc., a host of upstarts that are currently revolutionizing every other corner of economic life.
When you examine the follies at the heart of Healthcare.gov, two important factors stand out, experts say. The first is personnel--like many government IT projects, this was implemented by people who don't understand IT. "There's a lack of technology leadership at the agency level, leading to an inability to execute," said Vivek Kundra, who was appointed the nation's first chief information officer by President Barack Obama in 2009 and who is now an executive at the cloud-services company Salesforce.com Inc.
Mr. Kundra said that when he was the nation's CIO, the White House pushed a "cloud-first policy" that encouraged government agencies to avoid creating new server farms every time they had to build new websites, which is how the rest of the world works with tech. "It seems like with Healthcare.gov, a set of decisions were made at the agency level that aren't in line with how modern technology is deployed," Mr. Kundra said.
Why would the government implement the sort of tech infrastructure that no one else would consider? The answer is the mother all problems in government tech: "procurement." That's jargon for the broken process by which the government buys things.
Today, any company looking to work with the government must navigate an obstacle course of niggling, outdated regulations and arbitrary-seeming requirements. For instance, your technology must be Y2K-compliant just to get in the door. The process locks out all but a tiny handful of full-time contractors--companies who also happen to be big federal lobbyists. (Note how CGI Group Inc., which won the largest contract to build Healthcare.gov, lobbied on behalf of the health-care law.)
Clay Johnson, a former Presidential Innovation Scholar and the CEO of a reform-minded software company called Department of Better Technology, has written a seven-part manifesto on how to fix procurement, a prescription he says would go far in resolving most of the government's tech issues. His upshot: The government should strive to buy tech like the rest of the world does, opening itself up to vastly more vendors, and aligning price with performance. Logistically, none of the steps he outlines would be very difficult to accomplish. It would just require a full-court press from political leaders to make it happen.
These days, that sounds like reason enough for pessimism, though Mr. Johnson argues that government's tech issues are on the verge of reaching a tipping point that will force action.
"Long term, the government is not able to survive if it keeps using outdated technology, because the gap between last year's technology and this year's technology is always exponentially growing," he said. "You walk into the DMV and the person behind the desk has a CRT monitor and you have an iPhone--that leads to a gap to the perception of confidence. We need to fix that if we want the government to maintain some semblance of confidence, and competence."
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
October 15, 2013
“If Apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as ObamaCare’s online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for [CEO] Tim Cook’s head.”
Thursday, October 3, 2013
It is hard to comprehend that the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and an MSNBC Reporter, Thomas Roberts could be so clueless about how our Constitutional Republic is supposed to work.
First, Reid asks what give the House the right to "pick and choose" what they will fund.
Really? That is EXACTLY what the House is SUPPOSED TO DO! They are finally doing it, rather than passing huge omnibus bills while most members hold their nose at the inane projects, pork barrel, and unnecessary "necessities" included within. Click the link to see Harry make the point on why Washington just doesn't get it.
I love that the congress is finally passing funding on a "piecemeal" basis. That means they KNOW what they are passing out of the house! Senator Reid you asked, "What gives them the right...?" Well, to help you out, see what the constitution says about who has the right.
This is what the Constitution defines as the "power of the purse".
“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7
You know, that "balance of power" thing...
Oh wait, Thomas Roberts thinks that electing the president means there is a "mandate" for whatever he wants and Congress should just rubber stamp his agenda... because after all they are only "1/3 of the power in Washington".
Guess what, we don't care about the power in Washington, we care about our congressmen and senators doing what we elected them to do and for them to fulfill, uphold, and not abuse their constitutional responsibilities...
Good grief... Roberts can't even make a decent argument reading the White House talking points... GOP Chairman Reince Priebus utterly destroyed Roberts' logic on "majority rules"!
I recommend that Roberts watch this exchange, apologize to Priebus and take a personal oath to go back and study Journalism before ever conducting another interview. Hmmm, maybe he is just doing what he was taught... I wonder what liberal University taught him how to do his job. (remember, he wasn't specifically opining or editorializing which would have carried some kind of disclaimer, he was purportedly "reporting" the news and doing a news interview.)
All in all, I hope the Congress continues to piece meal funding legislation, until as Harry Reid as properly concluded, "only Obamacare is unfunded!"
Monday, August 19, 2013
Mostly, we have learned that you cannot run an 8 month campaign and expect to win. We have entered the era of the perpetual campaign. And with that realization the RNC is doing all of the right things to produce better results. One of those things is to not be the media's punching bag... the time of "Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel” are gone. Because today, ink is free. At least the written word now available universally through the internet, is free... and it is now a companion, if not a replacement for the traditional mainstream media, especially newspapers. Do you think for minute that Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame will follow anything even remotely traditional with his purchase of the Washington Post? He is the king of on-line and believe me he knows that paper and ink are not the delivery system of the future.
And guess what, certain mainstream networks and even cable news networks are not the only choices anymore... No one has a lock on communications media, and as a party, if a network is going to be blatantly biased, there is no obligation or need to acquiesce to the assumption that they have a "right" to participate in the Party's responsibility to conduct its primary debates. There are plenty of choices.
Townhall.com got this right... see the article below about RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his stand against media bias. I was proud to vote unanimously with my colleagues to "inform" those media outlets who are blatantly using their networks to promote other candidates that they can do so without including our candidates' debates in their schedule of programming...
Monday, March 11, 2013
Federation of Republican Women and the Republican Party of Texas, together,
with heavy hearts, have been asked by the family to inform those in Borah’s
Republican family of the tragic passing of our beloved friend, Lt. Col. Borah
Van Dormolen. Borah passed away at 2:00 pm this afternoon as the result
of a serious heart attack she suffered last week. All of us who are
members of the TFRW and are active within the RPT are devastated by the loss
of such a wonderful woman who devoted so much of her life to the betterment
of her country.
After serving her country in the US Army and achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel, Borah continued to commit her life to promoting the values of liberty and freedom when others might have retired quietly. In 2010 she was honored as the “Distinguished Military Retiree” for Texas for her outstanding contributions to both active duty and retired service members and their families. She also held a gubernatorial appointment to the Texas State Cemetery Commission.
As of today, Borah was serving her second term as Republican National Committeewoman from Texas and had recently been elected to represent the Lone Star State on the Rules Committee of the RNC. She also served as President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, and dedicated her many talents to different board positions within the TFRW for many years. She also served on the Executive Committee of Maggie’s List, a political action committee focused on recruiting, training and supporting women running for congressional office. Borah was not only a servant but also a mentor for candidates and volunteers and was responsible for hosting candidate trainings across the state of Texas. Borah has been active in hundreds of campaigns, organizing and leading volunteers in critical voter identification and Get Out the Vote efforts. Through all of her volunteer work, Borah found time to be a loving wife. She and her husband, Rich Castle, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on a cruise through the Pacific
Republican leaders and friends across the state and nation today mourn her loss.
From Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, “One of the great privileges of my life is to get to know and work with someone whom I consider to be an amazing woman, Borah Van Dormolen. Over the past several years I have had a chance to personally observe her tireless work on behalf of the Republican Party of Texas but more importantly on behalf of the country she loved dearly and served so well for so long. It is hard to believe that she is gone, having just been with her at last weekend’s SREC meeting when she was her usual, passionate, energetic and inspiring self. What always impressed me the most about Borah was her kind hearted spirit and how she always treated other people with dignity and respect. There will never be another Borah and we will miss her deeply. On behalf of the RPT family, we extend our heartfelt condolences to her husband, Rich, and to her family.”
From Texas Federation of Republican Women President, Carolyn Hodges, “TFRW mourns the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Borah Van Dormolen. Borah was an inspiration to me as I began my path as a Republican Woman. Her leadership in the Texas Federation of Republican Women was bold and decisive. Her common sense, her sense of humor, intelligence, and caring for Republicans set her apart from others. She was a dynamic and enthusiastic leader who was respected and loved across our state and nation. Borah traveled tirelessly across Texas giving her all. Everyone who met and heard Borah immediately began to share her enthusiasm and vision. Let us all carry on as Borah would want us to do and be the Republicans she would be proud of - focusing on unity.”
At this time, memorial arrangements are pending. The RPT and TFRW will inform you of the details as soon as we have them.
Monday, March 4, 2013
It is incredibly disengenuous of the POTUS to be playing the blame game on something that he created... As his former chief of staff was fond of saying, "Never let a crisis go to waste..."; why should you if you can leverage it with the media and the public to marginalize your opposition and ultimately get what you want. Remember, only in Washington D.C. is a "Cut" defined as a reduction in next years "Increase"! That is what we are talking about. What it really does is take everyone's attention away from the really important work of tax reform, entitlement reform, energy costs, a failing foreign policy, and more. The master of deflection and misdirection has done it again... we are talking about "crumbs" when we need to be talking about the pie.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Thomas Paine wrote those words when it looked like we might lose the American Revolution. There were many who were simply walking away from the battlefield and the army. It was a difficult time and Paine was challenging those who despaired to reflect on their own character, to ask the question if they were "fair weather" (sunshine) patriots or had the spirit of perseverance regardless of obstacles and set-backs.
We find ourselves needing to ask ourselves the same questions. We still love our country. We still have a duty to defend the constitution and its principles. We still have wonderful leaders who will fight for our cause. We need to carry on.
There is no question that as the election data is collected, sliced, diced, and analyzed, we will find chinks in our armor. We already know that we have work to do to reach out better to women, youth, and minorities. But we need not, nor should not despair. Let's take a moment... a brief moment to lick our wounds of defeat and to rejoice in our victories (yes, we did have some of those too!) and then "let us not shrink from the service of (our) country". Let's welcome the feeling of vitality and energy and face with courage, the challenge before us.
President Obama did not receive a mandate from the electorate. And though we must stand by our principles, we must also do as our nominee encouraged us last night, and pray for our president and our country. I like the old saying that we must "Pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on us".
I am by design an optimistic person but I do not see through "rose colored" glasses either. I do have hope, which overcomes discouragement and I do have faith that we can affect those around us in a positive way. But it does depend on each of us. I hope and pray that we can "stand by it now" and work together to accomplish what is necessary to preserve our country for our children and grandchildren.
This morning my friend Pete Ricketts from Nebraska reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill,
God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
Bruce R. Hough
National Committeeman, Utah