MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Steve O'Keeffe

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Posted: 1/24/2011 - 9 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Move over bed bugs - America’s got a new creepy crawly obsession. Pentatomoidea. Suborder Heteroptera. Order Hemiptera. No matter how fancy the handle, dead stink bugs are inches deep in our homes. More Chinese imports, these cursed crustaceans are cramping my crib. Landing on my touch screen, they’re resetting my zoom view - there’s the reach IT reference. I’d never clapped eyes on ‘em ‘til the recession. Now, let’s face it, stink bugs are our economy - slow, ugly, and well, let’s not sugar coat, stinky.

But, maybe that’s it - why not sugar coat ‘em? Why not fricassée or fondue? We eat soft shell crabs, right? Aren’t they crustaceans? Perhaps the recession’s symptom and cure are all one. Can’t we eat our way to recovery - a new cut on the economic crunch? Aren’t bugs high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants - and low in cholesterol? And with every forkful, we’d be helping out our farmers - saving apples, grapes, and tomatoes from stinking up.
Let’s do the patriotic thing - Uncle Sam Needs You to Eat Stink Bugs.* Send in your recipes for stink bug stew, sorbet, spaghetti - I’ll compile the cookbook.
*Ensure to cook with only USDA approved stink bugs.
Posted: 1/12/2011 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Sometimes great ideas run into roadblocks. That's when you need to think differently. Who could argue with today's data center consolidation direction? Green, secure, efficient - this is apple-pie stuff. So, why is the Hill sending the platter back to the kitchen - and questioning the bill? Perhaps it's time to reconsider the recipe?  

Today, agencies across the Federal government are holding on investment in existing data centers while they audit resources in the data center census. Three points here.  First, Federal data centers across the government are falling into disrepair - damaging performance and compromising security - as agencies wait to understand how many data centers they have and try to work out which to close and how to consolidate. This is driving new daily headaches for CIOs.  Second, it’s very hard for parents to choose which of their children should live or die. Internal IT politics within agencies are red hot as data center owners jockey for survival. Third, perhaps data center consolidation should not be an agency level decision? After all, the intent here is to furnish the Federal government with the optimal data center footprint, not to merely consolidate centers within specific agencies. These data centers are Federal assets, not agency chattels. 

So, here's a page out of an alternative cookbook. Let's keep the current data kitchens cooking to feed today's agency data and application appetites. Yes, I'm recommending breaking the fast diet imposed since February of last year. At the same time, OMB should consider all of the data that it has collected from respective agencies and focus not so much on the current population of data centers, but rather on agencies' data processing requirements. OMB could then fund the construction of a series of new, state-of-the-art data centers - which would offer greater green, secure, and efficient attributes - and transition data processing from legacy soup stands into the shiny new kitchens. This would empower a true Federal-level plan, not a series of agency saucepan strategies. This fusion approach would also bring agencies together to consider new computing models in the Federal data centers - accelerating the path to cloud computing and enabling a new integrated security approach. 

Skeptics whose palates are turned off by the investment tab should hold their judgment. Yes, it will be expensive to cook up the new Federal data center infrastructure, but consider the mid-term return on investment and your mouth will start to water. Not just data center savings, but a path to nouveau computing cuisine and the chance to solve the security chaos. Now that sounds like good eatin' to me. 

Interested in sampling new data center consolidation recipes? Pull up a chair for MeriTalk Innovation Nation in D.C. on April 5th. Or, if you’re outside the Beltway, make a reservation for the MeriTalk Data Center Consolidation Roadshow program - we’re serving up debate in San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa. Bon appétit.

Posted: 1/6/2011 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Talk religion, sex, or pay - quickest way to start a fight in a bar. But under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act - FFATA - Uncle Sam’s doing just that - publishing contractor top execs’ pay stubs on bar napkins.

Sure that you read the recent Post article trumpeting the new FFATA database of government subcontractors at This database sets out to let us see behind the mask of prime contractor awards - to show America where Federal monies really flow. For example, while many of the primes in Katrina clean-up came from the Big Easy, were they just fronts for the usual suspects - the contractors that do most of the work for Uncle Sam?
Interesting stuff, right? But one little talked about byproduct of FFATA is that the reporting process requires prime contractors to show and tell on their execs’ and subcontractor’s execs’ pay via the FFATA reporting system - question 16. This applies to all organizations that generated 80 percent of their revenue from the Federal government and/or $25 million in annual gross revenue from Federal government contracts - whether they’re public or not. This promises to make for some interesting reading - and some red faces in contract negotiations.
Fed 50 List?
So, the Federal contracts community is going to get its own version of the Forbes 50 list. Not as partial to “bling” as their commercial or Hollywood superstar counterparts, the Fed 50 cuts a more modest profile. Hence, people will be keenly interested to see who’s bringing in the big catch at the tax payer’s expense. And with the information in the open, perhaps we’ll see more gold teeth and exotic chariots in and around the Beltway?
Day Late, Dollar Short?
It’s taken some time to get the FFATA mandated capability online - we’re three years past the original deadline. But, in fairness to OMB, it’s a complicated undertaking.
That said, Fed contractor fat cats can afford to tarry before flipping their firms and heading for the shadows. Based on a quick review, seems the data quality from searches on leaves a little to be desired. Based on my searches, many companies have multiple identities. But what’s in a name? Well, if you’re Microsoft vs. Microsoft Corporation, quite a lot - that’s $861.2K vs. $152.200M. If you’re Oracle vs. Oracle Corporation, that’s $14.7M vs. $1.2B. And, if you’re Hewlett-Packard vs. Hewlett-Packard Company, that’s $34.6M vs. $10.9B. But I never was very good with numbers either…
And, considering the requirement for primes to report subcontractors on - the database that feeds the subcontractor visibility on - wouldn’t it be something if there were an easy way to see how primes are performing in registering their subcontractors? Now that would be an interesting dashboard... perhaps OMB should put in place a stop-payment order for contractors that don’t comply? For primes that want to comply, check out the online Webinar on how to report. 
It Ain’t Me, Babe
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did search O’Keeffe & Company on - which shows revenue of $99.1B. You’ll find me at the dentist getting fitted for my new gold grill. Only hope that the tax man knows to set off searches with quotation marks.