back to article Want some of that sweet government contract money? Obama's CIO gives tips to land deals with Uncle Sam

The former CIO of the US federal government says companies looking to nab IT contracts with agencies need to bring more than just a sales pitch. Tony Scott, who worked as Uncle Sam's CIO from 2015 to 2017, says that the key to getting any agency contract these days is to not only explain why your company is best for the job, …

  1. garetht t

    Employee Burnout

    You know, I don't want my security partner to be staffed with tired, stressed, and over-worked employees.

    I'd like my security needs handled by employees who had a nice rest, safe in the knowledge that their plonker boss isn't going to expect them to answer a phone call Sunday evening in order to make a point.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Employee Burnout

      I wonder what happens to employee's who don't answer the phone, also if it was me I would just redirect my phones to a mailbox of me spouting gibberish (Although I spout gibberish all the time) whilst alarms ring out in the background.

  2. Chairman of the Bored


    Let me ignore the river of marketing BS flowing from FireEye for just a sec (*)...

    ...Maybe the reason smaller firms are noncompetitive is due to the fact they cannot afford the legal teams necessary to navigate through our Byzantine contracting process. I don't think this has anything to do with quality of personnel, availability of personnel, or so forth. I've seen several small- to mid-size firms absolutely at the top of their game technically unable to get Gov't contracts because they either (1) couldn't get all the paperwork together to work before their competitors caught up; or (2) saw how much $ the paperwork was going to cost them and just said "screw it ... we're not going to sell direct to the Gov't ... let's market to their prime contractors"


    (*) Ok, I respect FireEye products but think the BS spouted here can work two ways. Do I want to hire a vendor who is so tightwad they cannot afford sufficient staff and everyone must work 80+ hour weeks? Do I want to hire a vendor who is constantly "up" because they are playing catch up?

    Working your ass off is not always a sign of extreme competence.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Okaaay...

      > Let me ignore the river of marketing BS flowing from FireEye for just a sec

      The fact is, you can't. By the time you typed that sentence you had already been exposed to FireEye's raging tide of BS.

      On the plus side, we now all know that working for FireEye is probably not a good idea, health-wise.

  3. wayne 8

    Pay to Play

    "could not tell him their plan to implement it and what consulting house would be partnering"

    Which consulting house (Obama's CIO used "what" instead of "which") is the key to your success.

    Those houses would be the consulting houses that put cash in the pockets of .gov bureaucrats and politicians.

  4. FozzyBear

    "We found that a well meaning technologist at every point in the last 30 to 40 years, when given money to put in a new system went out to find the best technology they could find at that particular moment in time," Scott explained."

    What you mean we should be buying sub standard products?

    "They would buy it and develop custom software built on that platform, then after a while that program didn't get any more startup funding, we forever cement in time a platform."

    As opposed to locking yourself in with commercial software, realise 6 months down the track you should have listened to the users rather than the marketing BS from the vendor. Get consultants in on a long engagement, who's daily rate is obscene even by lawyers standards, to heavily customise the software to finally get the functionality you require. After which you realise in a couple of months they are EOL'ing your version and you now have to pay an even more obscene amount of money for those consultants to review and modify those customisation's for the new version.

    Oh and by the way who in the hell would want to work for that sociopath of a boss. The only time I want a call from my boss on the weekend, is to tell me the office burnt down so there is no need to come into work on Monday

    1. Phil Kingston

      To be fair, the only reason government departments hit EOL woes is because they can't get rolled-out without months/years caught up in their own procurement process.

  5. gbshore

    If you want to ensure you as an entity are making the right decision, you need to invest time up front to provide a vendor/consultant access to your people up front so they can understand what the requirements are, what your goals, objectives and expected outcomes are. Over my 3 decade career, I would say clients provide nowhere near the access and information up front so we can provide the path forward. Absent of that, we are left to explain what we have done with other customers that may have little to no applicability to their particular needs. From the vendor/consulting side of the business, I have been in too many meetings where we have not had proper access and when we query, the client seems to be annoyed. There is no osmosis... you want an implementation plan and path forward, invest time up front to give the vendor a consultant a chance....

  6. SVV


    Does this name derive from the bloodshot eyes of your employees? Because I would not hire people who are so stressed out, frazzled and tired for any work, let alone something as important as security, as such people cannot concentrate and think clearly, and they make a lot of mistakes. Their boss is clearly an idiot too for failing to realise this, a further disqualification.

    As for the contract bidding, I think the criteria may now have changed, and booking expensive suites at certain hotels and golf courses in the US capital when presenting a bid are now more important than technical content when it comes to winning the money.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: FireEye

      > I think the criteria may now have changed,

      Do you REALLY, deep down, think anything has changed since the heady days of of, I dunno, 2000?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The money, stupid.

    Worked for two prime contractors. There, I said it.

    Both wined and dined the Congress-critters of the states/districts where they had locations, particularly manufacturing.

    Both also asked employees to "voluntarily" donate to their respective political action committees (PACs) -- another name for lobbyist group -- to help "grease the wheels" in Congress, hoping that favorable legislation (usually more DoD funding) will get passed.

    I personally didn't donate a dime.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The meaning of "sociopath"

    Meanwhile, FireEye honcho Kevin Mandia made his case for why companies should pick FireEye for their threat intel needs: Mainly, it's because the company is staffed by confirmed workaholics who don't know the meaning of the phrase "off the clock".

    In other words, youngster "burn-them-down-suicide-is-not-my-problem" employees who are still ok with that shit but whose skills are low and not improving as time for mentoring is just nonexistent.

    Been there, seen that.

    Not even once.

  9. TrumpSlurp the Troll

    Single malt and steak dinner?

    Is that a special thing?

    I've got steak in the fridge and a range of single malts in the cupboard so does that make me special? In a nice way, of course.

    These days my boat is more likely to be floated by something I wouldn't cook for myself.

    I assume doubly so for movers and shakers.

    Oh, and if you haven't helped to write the Invitation to Tender then you shouldn't waste your time bidding. You aren't close enough to the customer to understand the requirements.

  10. disgruntled yank


    My time working for government contractors led me to think that

    a. The government has excellent rules for purchasing typewriters and paper; these rules make it difficult to buy any but obsolescent computing technology. No doubt the three-letter agencies and the Defense establishment are in part exceptions to this.

    b. The government hires contractors on the Charlie Sheen principle, paying them to go away.

    1. Chairman of the Bored

      Re: contracting

      @disgruntled yank,

      Cannot speak for three letter agencies, but have some DoD and other experience. No different than the rest of US Gov't.

      My favorite comment concerns cluster computing on the NMCI net (choose one of 'Navy/Marine Corp Intranet' or 'No More Computer on Internet')...

      I ask, "How's it goin'?"

      Answer, "Um, sir... these f$ckers. Well, they put the cluster in clusterf$ck..."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better tips

    How about some tips on how not to let 125* million personal records be hacked?

    *25 million OPM

    100 million IRS

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