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Which IT firms donated to Obama's campaign?

Aren't I just a regular Chatty Cathy tonight? I would assume that as a general rule IT firms donate heavily to Democrats anyway, but when I see stories like this one - knowing what a cynical, craven-to-his-donors man Obama is - I can't help but wonder:

White House budget director blames old computers for ineffective government
By Ian Swanson - 01/14/10 02:56 PM ET

A big reason why the government is inefficient and ineffective is because Washington has outdated technology, with federal workers having better computers at home than in the office.

This startling admission came Thursday from Peter Orszag, who manages the federal bureaucracy for President Barack Obama.

I'm comin' Elizabeth. This is the big one. Whenever anyone at the office is having trouble with the printer or whatever and starts grumbling about the "stupid printer" I always say, it's a poor craftsman who blames their tools. We use that printer like paper grows on trees and the one time it jams it's a piece of junk.

By its very nature, bureaucracy is inefficient. Show me someone who chose bureaucracy : efficient as Great Salt Lake : salty on the SATs and I'll show you an Ivy Leaguer. Probably go on to edit Harvard Law Review. Maybe even something bigger after that.

The way to make it more efficient is to make it smaller, with fewer rules and regulations. I doubt replacing redundant workers with improved technology is the blueprint. They've got a union, pal, and it doesn't look kindly on fewer bureaucrats. Anyone see them trying to truncate the Federal Register?

Honestly, who has a better computer at the office than they do at home? Some egghead editor, probably. Obama, maybe. Pete Orszag, almost surely. Most worker drones like me get relatively inexpensive networked desktops or a cheap laptop. It doesn't take a lot of PC to run Office and Outlook.

"Twenty years ago, people who came to work in the federal government had better technology at work than at home," said Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget. "Now that's no longer the case."

Twenty years ago computers cost a fortune. I think I knew a half dozen folks with home PCs in 1990. I bought my first PC in 1995 IIRC - and it was better than the one I had at the office. It's called Moore's Law and economies of scale. Funny how once freed from burdensome procurement regulations, minority sourcing outreach, overhead, and other various and sundry bureaucracy federal workers can access the marketplace to easily acquire more powerful computers more quickly and for less money than the federal government. How many people had GPS systems 20 years ago?

Don't get me wrong, I want my employees in Washington to have adequate technology to perform their jobs. But let's face it, to the extend the government's technology is inefficient we can almost be certain those inefficiencies are the result of a Byzantine, self-imposed labyrinth of red tape. Washington obviously has some special requirements in the areas of security and redundancy, but there are managed service solutions available in the private sector that will allow us to actually make the beast smaller. No super size, no fries, no drink. Get people off the government payroll and into the private sector contributing to the GDP.

Oh how they'd squawk over the pay cut, though. It's a class war alright, and it's the governing class against the governed.

Obama is meeting with CEOs to solicit their views on how to improve the federal government with new information technology.

Two words: Government-allocated Stimulus Dollars. They want their money back, and they're going to get it.


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Comments (16)

Don't forget, the governmen... (Below threshold)

Don't forget, the government pays 5 - 10 times more for the same PC you bought.

So Peter has something new ... (Below threshold)

So Peter has something new to blame for their and his incompetence?

Here's a suggestion: Peter and his buddies can take THEIR OWN MONEY and go out and buy up-to-date computers and bring them to work. After all, isn't Barry all about SHARING?

I work for the Feds and I d... (Below threshold)

I work for the Feds and I don't need an Uber PC to do my work, I just need an Uber fast/ Uber stable/ Uber secure connection.

I work in automation on mainframes & I could tell you some stories about government workers that would make your ears sweat! I thank God every day that I started out in the private sector and never held a job for more than 6 years due to companies closing or outsourcing. I know that I have to work to keep my job.

Sadly, I don't a raise based on my performance, I get a raise based on how long I have been working. Our Dept was supposed to change to merit based pay, but some unions involved sued and we will never have it (Happily I do get bonuses for good work. Usually 1-2 a year.)

Excuse of the week from thi... (Below threshold)

Excuse of the week from this administration.
They are really grasping now.

My first computer must have... (Below threshold)

My first computer must have been 1989 or 1990 when I was still in the military. I have tried to stay at the second tier of cutting edge ever since. Must have the tools needed for blogging, and I swear my 3Ghz typewriter works way better than my old brother one of 1988.

Automating a bad process, d... (Below threshold)

Automating a bad process, doesn't improve it.

Exactly right. All the ru... (Below threshold)

Exactly right. All the rules mean they can't purchase anything reasonably. Here in Virginia, we are saddled with VITA. The contract with Northrop Grumman (raping the state) that Mark Warner and Tim Kaine stuck us with. When the head of VITA complained, Kaine pulled an Obama and fired him. I guess he thought he was an Inspector General!

Now you know dang good and ... (Below threshold)

Now you know dang good and well if Bush had gotten them all new computers we wouldn't be having this problem.

I sure wish I could use the "my-computer-is-old" excuse when I don't perform or keep up with the work flow.

for the last 3 years in the... (Below threshold)

for the last 3 years in the federal budget under "computers" they have spent 199 BILLION dollars. That equals $99,500 per federal employee (excludes the Post Office and military).

Talk about money being the hammer and every problem being a nail ...

Its that guys job to be as efficient with what he has as is possible ... seems like he's not doing a very good job if what he says is true (which I very much doubt) ...

Its the software stupid! L... (Below threshold)

Its the software stupid! Look at all the Federal software programs that the poor [sic] Federal workers have to use. I'm not talking about those Microsoft monstrosities, but the thousands if not millions of government-owned software shells used for everything from electronic medical charting to monitoring air traffic safety. That's what is hobbling (and requiring increased processing power) the Federal workers.

Of course, there is the fac... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

Of course, there is the fact that the Founding Fathers designed US.gov to be inefficient so that it wouldn't try to do things that are supposed to remain within the private sector. An efficient government of any size is bad for We The People. That Obamarrhoid is just using federal IT infrastructure as a scapegoat: "Our outdated PCs are keeping us from taking over the US!" Somebody send him a waaaahmbulance.

Red Five,The solut... (Below threshold)

Red Five,

The solution is to get the Republican back in charge so they can make the government as inefficient as humanly possible. I personally thank the founding fathers everytime a hear about a $15,000 toilet seat. Once we have the Republicans back we will have a government we can all be proud of because it does not work.

"Once we have the Republica... (Below threshold)

"Once we have the Republicans back we will have a government we can all be proud of because it does not work."

As opposed to the current administration attempting to ram through legislation a majority of the country does not want?

Shove your head back up your ass and go back to sleep.

There is a bit of a point t... (Below threshold)

There is a bit of a point to Orszag's whining: the computers sitting on people's desks are old, and in some cases the servers are even older. This does cause inefficiencies. However, the problem with government IT is and always has been the same as the problem at most large private companies: poor technical management. Yes, there are bad IT workers. But most IT people are competent to do something, if put in the right position and managed well, just like most people in most industries. People want to do a good job.

The problem comes in where byzantine work rules, strange personal quirks of managers1, poor organizational structure, inadequate attention to useful IT practices (like change management, project management, requirements preceding design, and the like), addiction to technology fads and the like are allowed to overrule technical competence. Note that I am not talking about business decisions overruling technical preferences — that is perfectly reasonable, and in fact should be more often encountered, because it would mean that business and IT were working together. Instead, I am talking about things that do not help the business, but which do satisfy someone somewhere in the bureaucracy (corporate or government), taking precedence over all reason.

Now, who here believes for a moment that the workaday part of the government, which Orszag is discussing, is driven by technical merit rather than byzantine work rules, strange personal quirks, poor organizational structure, and political empire-building?

1 I have worked for a CIO who didn't like the term "governance," because "it doesn't mean anything." As you might guess, systems grew wildly out of control on managers' whims, and changes to production systems were done on a wing and a prayer, usually over the objections of technical staff. I have worked with an IT director who couldnt' be bothered to learn what the actual jargon was, so he made up his own words, or misused words he'd overheard, and insisted that everyone else go along with his invented language. He was the same guy who was very, very concerned about which sub-model of processor was used in a particular server, and what speed the memory was bussed at, while completely ignoring the project management failures that were causing the $4m project for which the server was intended to go down in flames.
GrandFan,You reall... (Below threshold)


You really want to get on the "as opposed to the ____ administration" rant?

I was referring more to congress, you know, the people that actually pass legislation as opposed to the executive branch. However, please tell me how the past administration was not inefficient. Or better yet please tell me how the inefficiency of the past administration was better than the current inefficiency. Also, what inefficiency should we be srtiving for in our government.

And finally, please, take your own advice and keep Wizbang classy.

Don't get me wrong, I want ... (Below threshold)
John Galt:

Don't get me wrong, I want my employees in Washington to have adequate technology to perform their jobs. But let's face it, to the extend the government's technology is inefficient we can almost be certain those inefficiencies are the result of a Byzantine, self-imposed labyrinth of red tape>>

I worked as a Computer Systems analysts for decades before retiring a few years ago.

One of the last companies I worked for was Alcoa. They were not too different than any other large organization. I also did some IT work for Bank of America.

The IT systems of many large companies at least up until 3 years ago and I doubt it has changed much since then, were a hodgepodge of old legacy systems and newer technology systems. Different as night and day. Alcoa was able to get them to talk to one another most of the time, using completely cumbersome and inefficient bridging methods.

I can imagine that the government with so many agencies, many of whom pass computer data and information among them must be in even worse shape then companies like Alcoa and Bank of America.

Upgrading these disparate systems is not only bukoo expensive but immensely difficult and takes years. IT users are loathe to have their old patched together systems replaced by new technology, because of the comfort factor and make the upgrade of systems that much more difficult.

So I have no doubt that the Federal government is an IT mess to say the least.

Of course eliminating a lot of government agencies would make the problem smaller but the remaining ones would still have the same problems as before only on a smaller scale.

I doubt that the government unions would ever allow the elimination of that many government bureaucracies to make the IT problems go away or even become inconsequential.






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