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Let’s talk about the exciting topic of public procurement! Huhu ?!

Seriously, the way government agencies buy technology is a useful context in understanding that of the Pentagon abrupt cancellation on Tuesday of a technology project billed as essential to modernizing the US military. When government technology goes wrong, a culprit is often a budget bureaucracy that is at odds with the pace of technological advancement.

The Department of Defense’s project, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known by the acronym JEDI from “Star Wars”, was to buy commercially available cloud computing software to bring the US military up to the new (-ish) wave of technology . Microsoft received the $ 10 billion contract in 2019but it has since been held up by Allegations from Amazon that the former President Donald J. Trump interfered improperly in the contract expiration.

Years of Mud battle by technology companies that felt unfairly passed over, probably spelled Doom for JEDI. This contract battle was unusually chaotic, but it also revealed a deeper problem that has made many government technology creaky and musty: when a government agency buys something, the technology may have passed its prime or no longer meets its needs.

The Department of Defense started drawing up plans for JEDI in 2017, and now it’s essentially starting to ask companies to come up with new contract proposals.

Reading the news, I had a look back at a conversation I had with Robin Carnahan last year that was recently confirmed as administrator of the US General Services Administration. “Stop thinking about a digital infrastructure like you would fund a bridge,” said Carnahan, who was with at the time. worked US digital response, an organization that helps local governments modernize their technology.

What this means is that local, state and federal authorities usually pay for roads or other major projects after long deliberation and then try not to think too much about them for the next few decades.

However, this is an inherent flaw in government purchasing when it comes to technology. Long government budget cycles and mindsets do not match the pace of technology and its need for constant improvement and maintenance.

Carnahan gave me the example of government software that was bought for his unemployment insurance program. To qualify, a company proposing the new software must prepare a proposal for the state Department of Labor, and then lawmakers must approve the money. This process can take two or three years.

That is, by the time a company gets the green light to create a website to process jobless claims, the proposed technology will be several years old. Take even more time to get the site up and running according to a state’s specifications. It’s not a great result. You wouldn’t be thrilled if you bought a new smartphone and it came with 2016 features and functions.

Byzantine bureaucracies and long lead times hold technology back outside of government as well. The lengthy development processes for cars are one reason In-vehicle entertainment and display systems are sometimes annoyingly clunky. By the time they make it into your pickup truck, the technology could have been developed years ago.

The sad thing about government tech is that it hasn’t always been that sad. The United States government, especially the military and intelligence services, used to have the best technology in the world. The military helped steer the direction of innovations such as computer chips, powerful databases, and the Internet.

Governments still spend a fortune on technology, but the first and best customers for new products tend to be people, not the public sector. One reason for this is that we don’t need years to decide on new technologies.



  • This could be the biggest ransomware attack ever: That’s what security experts say Up to 1,500 companies could be affected by Russian cyber criminals compromised the software used by thousands of organizations and demanded a ransom to fix it, writes my colleague Kellen Browning. At about the same time as this attack, hackers, who are a Russian secret service, are accused Violation of a Republican National Committee contractor, report Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger.

  • “The good, the meh and the ugly”: Brian X. Chen writes that Microsoft’s first major update for Windows in six years has improvements, including a more smartphone-like user interface, but that parts of Windows 11 also “feel frustratingly familiar”.

  • Pretending to be someone you are not online with is nothing new, but … A writer for Vox says that new technology and changing norms have resulted in more people pretending to be teenage girls and black and Asian women in apps like TikTok and Instagram. It is “easier than ever to assume an almost completely new identity online, regardless of the consequences such behavior can have, ”writes Vox.

During a recent heat wave in British Columbia, a Mama Bear and her cubs have a swim in a backyard pool.


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