Are Government Agencies Drowning in Data?

Recently Federal Computer Week featured an article entitled: Why agencies are drowning in data. The article was based on a recent survey by Semantic Corporation on effective big data strategies. The survey found that that the main reasons for agencies feeling overwhelmed were data governance and data security. I think, however, they were asking the wrong questions.

The government is currently producing and making available huge amounts of data. I agree that this data needs to be kept secure and managed so it can be made available to the appropriate users. However, I think the bigger question is who is taking the time to look at the data and what are they doing with the information. Take acquisition data, for instance. There are volumes of data about what the government is purchasing, who in the government is making the purchases and what they are buying. Government analysts could be asking questions like:

Are we getting the best price possible on specific commodities?
Does one agency negotiate better prices than other agencies?
Why don’t we all get those good prices?
Which contract vehicles are most cost effective?
Is lowest price always the best answer?
Do we get more returns on commercial items that were purchased due to lower prices?

The list could go on and on. The problem is that no one is really looking at the data — truly analyzing it. Analysis of this type is very common in the private sector as businesses try to understand where they fit in a marketplace and how to make their supply chain run more efficiently. Government employees do not look at themselves as running a business.  They are always looking for cheaper prices and more efficient business practices, but often do not have the […]

B2B VS B2G: How eCommerce Can Save the Government Money

We’ve reached into the Partnet archive to bring you today’s post. Originally posted in March 2013, B2B VS B2G: How eCommerce Can Save the Government Money, is brought to us by blogger Debra Fryar.

Business to Business (B2B) markets have positively influenced the business community for a number of years now. Their impact on the economy is evident in several ways:

Transaction costs. Three cost areas are significantly reduced through the conduct of B2B eCommerce.

First is the reduction of search costs, as buyers need not go through multiple intermediaries to search for information about suppliers, products and prices as in a traditional supply chain. Internet is more efficient at gathering information, in terms of effort, time, and money spent. In B2B markets, buyers and sellers are gathered together into a single online trading community, reducing search costs even further.
Second is the reduction in the costs of processing transactions (e.g. invoices, purchase orders and payment schemes), as B2B allows for the automation of transaction processes and therefore, the quick implementation of the same compared to other channels (such as the telephone and fax).
Third, online processing improves inventory management and logistics.

Removing Intermediaries. Through B2B e-markets, suppliers are able to interact and transact directly with buyers, thereby eliminating intermediaries and distributors.

Transparency in pricing. Among the more evident benefits of e-markets is the increase in price transparency.

The gathering of a large number of buyers and sellers in a single e-market reveals market price information and transaction processing to participants.
Increased price transparency has the effect of pulling down price differentials in the market.
Buyers are provided much more time to compare prices and make better buying decisions.
B2B e-markets also allow multiple buyers and sellers to participate in two-way or reverse auctions. In such environments, […]

By |March 6th, 2014|General|0 Comments|

eCommerce for Government IS Different

The differences between government eCommerce and eCommerce for commercial business might be difficult to notice at first glance, but these differences are key to a successful government eCommerce solution.

Government Acquisition Players Benefit from eCommerce

No matter whose perspective you use, eCommerce is a good idea for government acquisition. Unfortunately it is a much underutilized tool in the government acquisition tool box. Why do you think the federal government has been slow in utilizing this technology that has been around for almost 20 years?

B2B VS B2G: How eCommerce Can Save the Government Money

Business to Business (B2B) markets have impacted the business community for a number of years now. Their positive impact on the economy is evident in several ways.

Why Open Source Software is Good for the Government: Part 4 – What Next?

Even with the many benefits of open source software (OSS), misconceptions of open source software persists. One of the hurdles seems to be that the government acquisition community is not as familiar with the variety of products and services as they could be.

Why Open Source Software is Good for the Government: Part 3 – OSS Adoption

Since the 2009 OSD memorandum supporting open source software, DOD has been making strides in the use of open source software, but there is a long way to go.

Why Open Source Software is Good for the Government: Part 2 – Cost Savings

Money can be saved in almost any IT application being developed, which is perhaps the most compelling reason that government should consider open source software for all projects.

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    Why Open Source Software is Good for the Government: Part 1 – An Introduction to OSS

Why Open Source Software is Good for the Government: Part 1 – An Introduction to OSS

In these days of tight budgets, the government has to look at every possible area to achieve cost savings. Using more open source software in government IT systems is a good way to start.

Contract Types for Software Development

Having spent 33+ years in Federal Government service in both Contracting and Information Technology and now as an IT contractor, I’ve been pondering the current situation in contracting for IT services, especially software development. I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re in a real pickle!

Rule #1 of contract type selection is to place as much risk on the contractor as is practicable. We’ve been at the task of software development in Government-Contractor relationships for a few decades now (the Government used to use its own programmers, but that’s another blog post).

Conventional contracting wisdom is that if a process is well known and practitioners of the process are abundant then the amount of risk to either party is low and therefore firm, fixed price is the appropriate contract type. As a COTR and SOO/SOW writer I engaged more than one contracting officer in a discussion of the difficulties associated with this approach. Either the Government defaults to the straight-line method (“just bill the same amount every month”) or each system change is treated as a task order with its own price. The latter is much more in line with what FAR and DFARS envisions but it is also fraught with difficulty.

The other principle for when FFP is the appropriate contract type is that the requirements are well known. Requirements definition for software, when done correctly, is exacting. Ensuring that the software users’ needs are met requires details about data, processes, inputs, outputs, roles, permissions, formats, communications protocols and reporting. Even the best requirements writers inadvertently leave gaps in requirements. Once the requirements get to the developers there is often more than one way to produce the same outcome, each with a different cost. Most of […]

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