Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Federal CTO Prediction

OK, I'm going out on a limb here about a piece of real Inside the Beltway insider baseball: the name of the new federal chief technology officer. You should care, actually, because if this person reflects the spirit of the Obama presidency, he or she will soon be calling on all of us to help fix what's wrong, improve what's right and come up with what's next for technology in government. I recently opined that it didn't much matter who is named because in many ways, the new CTO will be all of us.

The Obama campaign and the Obama moment and the Obama approach all point to greater openness about the workings of government, more collaboration, more sharing and, finally, a call on Americans to quit shopping and step up to the challenges of reinventing democracy for the 21st century. But hey, no one likes to cede bragging rights, so I dropped a name in at the end of the piece as my prediction: Vivek Kundra. And now, guess what? he's suddenly gone all unavailable to the press. Here in Washington, that usually means either an indictment or an appointment. This guy is simply too busy as Washington, DC's CTO and too young and too clean to have an indictment, so I'm betting on an appointment: federal CTO.

And how cool is that?!? He's only been at the helm in DC since 2007. He's crazy innovative, he's daring and his dad was a high school teacher in the DC public schools for Pete's sake.

Here's my next prediction: procurement pre-solicitation conferences on YouTube.

Remember, you read it here first!


Concerned Retiree said...

from Concerned Retiree:
RE: your 2nd prediction: "Here's my next prediction: procurement pre-solicitation conferences on YouTube." -- Perhaps I misread your a) point, or b) prediction - but, IF your point is that the new Administration will be more open, informal, effective BECAUSE of techniques such as YouTube" conferences - Here's my reaction - 1.Please Ms. Laurent contain what I read as an incredible giddiness from fed covering journalists like you about the any topic related to the new Administration. You are waaay too experienced for such silliness. 2. Please, regarding YouTube presentations, get a quote from a private sector law firm on the likely time period that that YouTube presentations of ANYTHING contractually significant or enlightening -- my guess is 12 months max. 3. Please recall, federal contracts -- all contracts for ANYTHING - computers, air craft carriers, ball point pens—provide a rich field for litigation, dispute, re-competition, home district pressure, and, of course, lobbying of all kinds. Also, as you know well, federal acquisition and contract law is dense in complexity and opportunities for litigation and/or out of court bargaining, hence the vast population of the legal workforce, hence the fine houses in Fairfax, and the bustling wine trade in DC, etc. In short, informality on YouTube, just pals conferences, golfing outings, coffee klatches, etc, are all very poor venues to present the details of competitive acquisitions. 4. A Test: Let’s test your prediction: image, please, a YouTube presentation from the new Dod Administration appointees on the re-competition for the next generation of USAF tankers – sample talk: “We’re looking for a refreshingly new airplane, bold in design, but, not too new, something that incorporates the traditions and operational needs of USAF 24/7 assignments. Also, we want a reliable plane – 30 year effective life, but, yet a suite of mechanicals that are real easy to repair, given the turn-over on enlisted mechanics or contract repair rates. Plus, we want something easy to fly by career or reserve pilots, yet we want sophisticated avionics, real time displays, blah, blah, blah.” Is this just funny, true to life, and without bid-worthy content? Now, in what way will YouTube talks on big deal IT competitions be different? Or more to the point – what will they provide that is useful, clarifying, and non-controversial? Please, Ms. Laurent, less giddiness. At best – the first You Tube presentations will become philosophical pabulum, or, at worst, they will produce court reporter quality transcripts – as vendor law firms record every comma – such transcripts and supporting DVD recordings to join the mountain of exhibits in the federal court proceedings on source section controversies. Plus ca change.

Anne Laurent said...

Concerned: No I'm not positing that because there is YouTube, therefore pre-solicitation conferences will be televised. In fact, all I was doing was presaging the actual video that appears at the end of the post of an actual D.C. government pre-solicitation conference on YouTube. What's more, your red herring example of a USAF tanker RFP via YouTube is as silly to me as it is to you. It's also not germane. No one proposed it. But I certainly can imagine, or image as you put it, any number of pre-solicitation conferences that could in fact be videotaped and put on any number of sites, including YouTube, once the legalities are worked out. I also can imagine the tremendous boon they would be to both vendors and the government--records of the full richness of the conferences word-for-word, including body English, that could be revisited and parsed for both bid and proposal purposes and to prepare for proposal reviews. Honi soit qui mal y pense, my friend.