letters to the editor
DOD already has procurement training
The federal government already has a first-class procurement-training program at Defense Acquisition University.
This rigorous, curriculum-based certification model has trained thousands of Defense Department acquisition employees over the years. In the past six years, DAU has built an award-winning advanced distance-learning capability that has saved millions of dollars and made it possible for even more employees to be trained. All they have to do is make this capability available beyond DOD.
National Technical Information Service
Fixes can cost more than problems
As was mentioned briefly in the Sept. 22 article "Forest Service purchase cards under fire," $2.7 million represents a small portion of the Forest Service's $320 million in credit card purchases — 0.8 percent.
That means that 99.2 percent of all the agency's credit card purchases met all of the General Accounting Office's criteria. When dealing with human beings, 99.2 percent compliance is amazing and should be recognized as such.
Not to discount the need for accountability, but a good deal of the bureaucratic red tape and inefficiencies of government seem to be generated by the layers upon layers of checks and rechecks to address these problems. I don't think anyone anywhere tracks the added costs — in terms of dollars and time — of these layers that have been added to governmental dealings.
With the exception of fraud, it would be good to see the cost of all of the remedies tracked and compared to the cost of the problem. In the case of the purchase cards cited, adding a small additional cost to $320 million in purchases can easily exceed the $2.7 million in wasteful and questionable purchases found by GAO.
St. Paul, Minn
Net-centric forum is open
I just finished reading the article "Industry at odds over architecture groups" in the Oct. 20 issue of your magazine. I am dismayed that FCW appears to have misunderstood our conversation. The article paraphrased me as saying:
"There also is a need for a broader, more open industry forum on architecture that the association cannot provide."
My actual point was just the opposite. The National Defense Industrial Association and its affiliate, the Association for Enterprise Integration, created the Net-Centric Operations Industry Forum precisely because association members and government stakeholders wanted a broad, open industry group to collectively address issues, to help develop a common lexicon and understanding, and to act in an advisory capacity.
The founding principles of the forum include no barriers to participation in forum activities and a commitment to fairness, objectivity and openness. Absent these, the forum would have seriously diminished value to its government participants.
The transformation from traditional defense business to one reliant on sharing information as a core competence is disruptive, to say the least. It should not be surprising that, in this highly competitive business, there is indeed disagreement on how best to proceed.
We are committed to working inclusively with all interested parties and communities of interest. Advancement of net-centric visions for the future cannot be accomplished without mutual understanding and collaboration.
Association for Enterprise Integration
SAIC: We are unbiased
FCW's Oct. 23 Web story, "Maryland lawmakers question Diebold voting," indicated that Science Applications International Corp. issued a heavily redacted version of the report. That statement is completely erroneous. Maryland officials made the determination to issue the redacted version. That decision had nothing to do with SAIC.
Another point of clarity to be made: Professor David Dill's statement, "I think that they were trying to make the governor of Maryland happy," was irresponsible and incorrect. SAIC officials never took a political position and made no recommendations on proceeding with the Diebold system. That decision rested squarely with the state's decision-makers.
Also, another comment made by Dill, "I imagine that the recommendations are good, but SAIC assumed Maryland had to buy the machines," is false. SAIC officials made no assumptions about procurement decisions. The company was simply asked to review a specific system.
Benjamin A. Haddad
Senior Vice President Science Applications International Corp.
Editor's note: This letter refers to an Oct. 23 Web story. Another article on the e-voting issue appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of Federal Computer Week. The company's comments were included in that story.