• SNAP: Former Fed CIO Labels Big IT Vendors as Cartel-like Obstructionists

    September 2nd, 2011 by admin Categories: Blogs Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Courtesy of NASCIO

    Former federal CIO Vivek Kundra didn’t pull any punches this week in his article in the New York Times taking large IT vendors to task for their “cartel” like obstruction to real cost savings and efficiencies in the fed’s $80 billion annual investment in technology:

    “As the global economy struggles through a slow and painful recovery, governments around the world are wasting billions of dollars on unnecessary information technology. This problem has worsened in recent years because of what I call the “I.T. cartel.” This powerful group of private contractors encourages reliance on inefficient software and hardware that is expensive to acquire and to maintain.”

    He even goes so far as to single out a prime perpetrator:

    “In one particularly egregious example of waste, the Defense Department last year pulled the plug on a personnel system devised by Northrop Grumman after spending approximately $850 million on it in 10 years.”

    The crux of Vivek’s argument involves his embrace and promotion of so-called “cloud computing”, and the large vendors and federal agencies that are blocking the transition because of unfounded security concerns and other alibis:

    “We also saw an opportunity to increase productivity and save costs by embracing the “cloud computing” revolution: the shift from hardware and software that individuals, businesses and governments buy and then maintain themselves, to low-cost, maintenance-free services that are based on the Internet and run by private companies.”

    And Vivek closes with this warning:

    “Public and private organizations that preserve the status quo of wasteful spending will be punished, while those that embrace the cloud will be rewarded with substantial savings and 21st-century jobs.”

    Certainly, this has significant implications for state and local government as well. While Vivek as federal CIO mandated that federal departments move “at least three” of their current applications to the cloud, and required them to adopt a “cloud first” strategy for new IT investment, states have in general been less enthusiastic. State of California IT leaders have given some consideration to this new phenomenon – the $50 million CSC/Microsoft California Email Services (CES Mail) is one example. Other services are planned, but there has not been the wholesale endorsement at the state level that the former federal CIO promulgated.

    Read the whole thing and this analysis by Alice Lipowicz at FCW. It will surely be an interesting debate to follow and Vivek, now safely ensconced in his pearly perch as a Harvard Fellow, has fired the first shot which will definitely get him in hot water, especially with the large IT vendors. But like one of my heroes, G.K. Chesterton who was known to appreciate hot water himself once remarked, “I think it keeps you clean”.  I believe Vivek would agree.

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