Letters to the editor

GSA Prices Not Always the Best; Getting EDS' Attention; Bridging Cultural Gaps; Key Considerations for Homeland Security

The following two letters are responses to an FCW.com poll question that asked, "Do you support limiting DOD's ability to buy services through the GSA schedule?"

GSA Prices Not Always Best

As a bank card (purchase card, smart card) buyer for my organization, I compare prices. Because of market volatility, General Services Administration prices are often higher than commercial prices at any given moment.

Good stewardship requires that I select the lowest prices and best warranty for the people I serve.

GSA negotiates a decent price at the time of the negotiation, but as times passes until the next negotiation, the market changes rapidly.

Jim Hochstein

Naval Sea Systems Command

This should make the news concerning "the fleecing of America." We are required to order a new printer for our stand-alone computer through GSA, and it costs more than twice as much as going through the open market!

A black-and-white printer incorrectly described as a color printer in the vendor's e-mail description cost more than $800, and I know you can buy one as good or better for less than $100 at the local store.

Go figure what is going wrong and then multiply this by thousands of purchases through GSA during one year's time!

Steven Ball

Air Force

***

Getting EDS' Attention

My previous letter regarding the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, published on FCW.com May 20, attracted EDS management's attention, as expected. Not surprisingly, the attention was negative. Instead of working to solve the problems reported to EDS, management chose to "kill the messenger."

It is apparent that EDS management is not interested in resolving problems constructively, and that will only further impede NMCI's deployment. The end result will be time, effort and money wasted. This is extremely unfortunate, because the premise behind NMCI is solid.

Mike Deering

Former EDS subcontractor

***

Bridging Cultural Gaps

Thank you for the hint of things to come ["DOD works to close generation gap," FCW, June 24].

It is good news that our Washington, D.C., officials recognize the necessity of bridging the workforce generation gaps. Further, U.S. citizens tend to be culturally arrogant and ignorant with regard to our own country. The culture in northern California is different from Texas, Missouri, Georgia and New York. Compare that geographical difference to Europe, and you've spanned dozens of countries.

Just because we are all living in the good ol' United States does not necessarily mean we are speaking the same "language." Thanks again for the article.

Samantha Thomas

Sacramento, Calif.

***

Following are responses to an FCW.com poll question that asked, "Would the creation of a Cabinet-level department strengthen homeland security-related information technology initiatives?"

Key Considerations for Homeland Security

The establishment of another agency will not, in itself, do anything.

The key is having true and active champions in the White House and Congress, evangelists and good project management in the agencies that direct the security programs, and contractors who are committed to performing in the country's best interests.

Of course, this is nothing new and can be said for any federal initiative, from campaign reform to health care.

Jeff Rager

NCS Pearson Inc.

Fixing the federal IT infrastructure is relatively simple compared with eliminating the special interests that will vie for federal dollars in an effort to "help" execute a Cabinet-level strategy relating to homeland defense.

Adding technology to inefficient or ineffective business processes simply allows them to be proportionately more ineffective or inefficient, and I don't think we have quite gotten the hang of running the government like a business (without recent corruption and accountability investigations, of course!).

A better path to follow would be to refocus on correcting the processes that involve decision-makers, and then add the technology to support them. And simplify, too.

Where are those toll-free numbers to call with anonymous tips about possible terrorist activity, like (888) CALL-FBI? The public has demonstrated its willingness to help out, if only they could contact appropriate authorities rapidly and easily — keys to timely threat analysis and pre-emptive quenching of possible terrorist acts.

Tom Plemich

Arlington Heights, Ill.

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