Letters to the Editor
I could not agree more with your editorial ["FTS 2001: Let them all compete," Federal Computer Week, May 13, 2000].
The federal government needs to "get out of the business of managing agency
For the past 11 years, my company, Electra Ltd., has provided telecommunications
services and equipment to the federal government. While the commercial market
for telecommunications services has flourished during this period, the federal
market has been severely constrained by an anachronistic reliance on multibillion-dollar,
omnibus contracts. Whether through mandatory-use, minimum-revenue guarantees
or massive contract bundling, the government has all but assured that only
oligopolists can participate.
However, our experience has shown that when agency managers have had
the courage to seek waivers from these underperforming bundled contracts,
they have been rewarded with the pricing, service and innovation that only
open competition can provide.
With the wave of mergers among primes on contracts such as FTS 2001
and the DTS-CE [Defense Information Systems Network Transmission Services-Continental
United States Extension], there has never been a better time for agencies
to demand the choices that are available in the commercial marketplace.
GSA should stop clinging to acquisition strategies based on contract
bundling and instead offer agencies procurement mechanisms such as Federal
Supply Schedules and electronic commerce bid boards, which promote continuous
competition and maximize vendor participation.
President, Electra Ltd.
In support of "weenies'
Dan Verton's review of Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh's book "Semper Fi: Business
Leadership the Marine Corps Way" was insightful and well-written ["Always
faithful' at the office," Federal Computer Week, May 15]. The 10 winning
strategies will help managers and team leaders become more successful.
Unfortunately, Dan incorporated some of the authors' inherent biases
into his review. The authors continue the Marine myth that managers lack
the requisite courage to lead and that there are two variants of Marines:
real ones (or operators) and staff "weenies." Staff "weenie" is not a benign
characterization: It is very pejorative and causes rancor and hostility
within the Corps.
What makes the Marine Corps, and its leaders, so unique is the fixation
on team-building. This belief is predicated on the philosophy that no member
of the Corps is irreplaceable. All Marines must be rifle men and women first,
and even the most junior Marine must be prepared to assume command.
However, most Marine leaders lack an essential management skill: strategic
Another fault is that to most Marines, the most plentiful and least
valuable asset is the individual Marine. This needs to change.
If corporate America adopts these two principles, our continued prosperity
Read the book! Take advantage of the healthy advice! Disregard that
which is dangerous or shortsighted. Be a great manager and lead by example.
Trust your subordinates. Challenge them to improve. Reward them for innovation
and success! Exceptional subordinates always reflect favorably on their
Just in case anyone wants to take me to task for my views, they had
better do their homework. I was a staff "weenie." However, I have a breadth
of operational assignments and experience. I wore a Marine Corps uniform
for almost 22 years of continuous active duty and rose through the grades
from private to warrant officer, and then through captain.
I was a key player (maybe the key) and driver in the Marine Corps' victory
against the abortive Bush-Cheney-Powell plan that would have reduced the
Marine Corps' active duty numbers to below 160,000 Marines by the end of
fiscal 1997 ("USMC 2001").
Without us staff "weenies" to defeat the "purple suit" warriors, about
14,000 officers and enlisted Marines would not be wearing Marine Corps green
today. Without us, the Marine Corps would not have completed the rebuilding
of the MPF assets in half the expected time. Without us, many of the Marine
Corps' legendary exploits might never have occurred.
Marine Corps staff "weenies" can do everything that the operators can.
Unfortunately, the operators cannot do our jobs.
Stay away from pejorative class distinctions.
There is only the mission, the team, and success!
Thanks. Semper Fidelis!