Is GSA Breaking the Law?

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Word on the street is that two new IG reports on GSA 18F/TTS will see the light of day in October. We understand that the reports were supposed to hit the street this summer–but that the IG keeps finding new issues and interviewing more folks at GSA and across the government.

So, do the delays mean there’s more than smoke? Is it true that the Department of Justice is engaged and looking at bringing criminal cases? Word is folks are leaving 18F to avoid prosecution. And, speaking of folks coming and going, it’s interesting to observe how 18F/TTS has been busy hiring like crazy until scent of the IG report triggered a hiring freeze a month ago. Why would you keep hiring folks when you’re only 30 percent billable–rumor has it that 18F/TTS has been busy cooking the figures of late to make it look like they’re 40-plus percent billable. We’ll look forward to reviewing the numbers from that FOIA request. And, returning to hiring practices, we understand that 18F/TTS has not been hiring folks with skill sets that map to government agency customer demand–but why would you?

Some questions we hope the IG report covers: What does 18F have to show for American taxpayers’ $100 million investment? At a recent joint GSA/MeriTalk event, David Shive, GSA CIO and acting lead for TTS and FedRAMP, said TTS will break even by 2019–and that it will lose less money than last year.  So, how does TTS’ balance book look? Where are TTS’ happy government customers? How does TTS avoid competing with industry? And, of course, the big question, how should we measure success for TTS moving forward? A Government Technology article provides additional insight on 18F/TTS financials from a source inside GSA. So, MeriTalk’s not the only media platform barking up this tree.

Everybody knows government IT’s badly broken. We need new thinking that understands and respects government’s mission. We applaud the initiative that founded the Federal innovation core. Here’s hoping that GSA’s clean as a whistle.

GSA has not responded to MeriTalk’s request for confirmation and response to this story or on our previous blog post, FedRAMP Not FedRAMP’d?

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set free you.”

John 8:32

Steve O'Keeffe
About Steve O'Keeffe
Steve O'Keeffe is the founder of MeriTalk, the government IT network. MeriTalk is an online community that hosts professional networking, thought leadership, and focused events to drive the government IT dialogue. A 20-year veteran of the government IT community, O'Keeffe has worked in government and industry. In addition to MeriTalk, he founded Mobile Work Exchange, GovMark Council, and O’Keeffe & Company.
13 Comments
  1. Anonymous | - Reply
    "Word is folks are leaving 18F to avoid prosecution." True. And they are talking and telling the real story of the boondoggle within that they didn't sign up for. Cheers to you Steve for getting this started by publishing what other journalists are afraid to do. It's pretty clear you have well informed sources. GSA has been filtering, controlling and spinning this message for too long and the people are tired of it. Just wait, we'll hear more truths soon for sure.
  2. Anonymous | - Reply
    So many millions wasted and so many great people have left government because of this nonsense. 18f impact is so small and they don't deliver results anywhere close to the millions invested - yet they continue to receive funding from this GSA FAS fund - why? Would love to know how Administrator Roth justifies supporting this continued insanity. It's a good sound bite for her at events but when you pull back the curtain it's all talking heads, empty promises and lack of delivery.
  3. Anonymous | - Reply
    Martha Johnson was ousted for waste, fraud and abuse for $1M on a silly conference and shenanigans going on across her leadership team at GSA. How is this different. Clearly there's even more of it now and at the price tag of $100M ----WHAT?!? Guarantee they've had more than $1M in frivolous spending. who is accountable? Looks like Phaedra got out just in time.
  4. Anonymous | - Reply
    Thank you for shedding light on the disfunction and lack of leadership at the GSA yet again. It has been complete chaos for several years after many poor leadership decisions. They brought Phaedra Chrousos in and she chopped up that organization, took the budgets from several solid, long standing programs to fund 18f experimental fun projects. Millions wasted and nothing to show for it. She empowered that team of arrogant short timers to choose what they wanted to work on when. She was more concerned with keeping them happy so they'd stay rather than actually getting them to produce anything meaningful. They spend more time traveling and speaking at events dropping buzz words here and there than doing actual work. This way of business will not survive and is doing more harm than good.
    1. Anonymous | - Reply
      This is all true.
  5. Anonymous | - Reply
    How many GSA employees will be attending the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, VA this year at the taxpayers expense? GSA still seems to have the largest attendance at this conference/party.
  6. Anonymous | - Reply
    GSA IS JUST ANOTHER CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE OPERATING AS A FEDERAL AGENCY AND IT CIRCUMVENTS THE SMALL BUSINESS ACT, BYPASSES AUTOMATIC SET ASIDES OF $ 3,000 - $ 150,000 FOR U.S. SMALL BUSINESSES. WHAT DID KINGDOMWARE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT SAY. EVERY REQUIREMENT IS A CONTRACT REQUIREMENT AND SUBJECT TO THE RULE OF 2. FAR 8.4 WAS CREATED BY WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS TO BENEFIT LARGE BUSINESSES. THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATORS ARE WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS AND ONE OF THEM VIOLATED ETHICS AND INTEGRITY RULES AND IS THE CEO OF FEDBID - A BID RIGGING SITE THAT VIOLATES FAR 15.206 EVERY DAY; VIOLATES THE SDVOSB PROGRAM EVERY DAY; AND VIOLATES THE RULE OF 2 AND AUTOMATIC SET ASIDES EVERY DAY. THOSE AGENCIES USING FEDBID ARE JUST MORE WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL ENTERPRISES VIOLATING THE FAR AND SMALL BUSINESS ACT. THERE WILL BE A NEW WEBSITE TO SHOW JUST WHO THESE WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS ARE - THEY HAVE NAMES AND TITLES AND SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.
    1. Anonymous | - Reply
      Thank you for yelling all of this, thus ensuring it will remain unread.
  7. Anonymous | - Reply
    Guess what? Everyone knows this but 18f. The 18f story is flashy but all smoke and mirrors. They illegally hire their friends, don't follow rules and continue the cult like behavior and arrogance that is so off putting to everyone inside and outside of government. 18f has many staff sitting the bench or working on fluff research projects to be semi billable. Their projects go no where because they think they are the first to produce these concepts and information, always. So they've redesigned a few websites - what? It took 200 people and $100M to do that??? There has been zero oversight and accountability for these characters and their lack of productivity. They have zero respect for most career civil servants and keep adding to the list of the many unhappy 18f customers. I'm sure the next administration will come in with a clear head and get rid of this massive liability right away.
    1. Anonymous | - Reply
      What anonymous said. I've worked with two agencies so far where 18F and USDS is involved, and they've actually killed fledgling innovative efforts in those agencies because: 1) they didn't care to understand the core business of the agency, and 2) they aren't out to solve the critical problems that are actually at issue. From a technical perspective, "startup architecture"/a website is novelty architecture. I haven't seen real "how do we architect a sustainable, resilient solution" yet from these folks. It's not their background. Surfing the wave...
  8. Anonymous | - Reply
    One sad result of all this, is that the Sunlight Foundation, that was working hard to keep government honest, will soon close its doors because, "18f & USDS used their deep pockets to take all of our best people."
  9. Anonymous | - Reply
    "folks are leaving 18F to avoid prosecution" - Um, you can't out run criminal charges merely by changing employers. If the author would reference his dictionary, prosecution is "the institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge".
  10. Anonymous | - Reply
    "folks are leaving 18F to avoid prosecution". Huh, how does that work? If the author would refer to his dictionary he'd see that prosecution is "the institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge." You can't out run criminal charges by changing employers.

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