Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

The photo in the Shreveport Times shows a grinning Gov. Bobby Jindal shaking hands with David Zolet, executive vice president and general manager of the North American Sector of Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) as the two jointly announced that the company plans to open a technology center at CSC’s national Cyber Research Park in Bossier City.


The company, partially owned by Lloyds Banking Group of London through its Scottish Windows funds, offers IT services, including cloud solutions, cyber security, technology consulting and, according to several sources, secret CIA flights for the purposes of interrogation and torture. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/may/06/lloyds-computer-sciences-corporation-cia-rendition

CSC will be the anchor tenant of the research park and will partner with Louisiana Tech University to account for 1,600 new jobs over the next four years, thanks in part to $14 million in state funding over the next decade to expand higher education programs to increase the number of computer science graduates per year.

Louisiana Tech is scheduled to receive the bulk of the $14 million as it plans to quadruple its number of undergraduate degrees in computer science, computer information systems and cyber engineering over the next five or six years, Jindal said, adding that Bossier City was selected over 133 other sites in the U.S. He said the company’s decision will help northwest Louisiana to become “one of America’s new technology hubs, enabling the region to attract technology partners of CSC as well as other technology companies attracted to the growing IT work force here.”

And while Louisiana Tech will get most of the initial funding, the lease payments for the 116,000 square-foot technology center that will be constructed and leased to CSC by Cyber Innovation Center will be paid with $29 million in state funds. City and parish governments will chip another $5 million each to purchase data center equipment for the building while CSC will invest in the servers and other computer technology.

While we are not sure of the identities of the other “technology partners” of CSC, it’s somewhat interesting to note that CSC customers are being urged to boycott the company over allegations that it took part in illegal CIA rendition flights in the U.S. “war on terror.”

Court documents have linked CSC to the rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri who was abducted on Dec. 31, 2003, after being mistaken for a known terrorist by the CIA. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240160206/Customers-urged-to-boycott-CSC-over-CIA-torture-flights

El-Masri was blindfolded, beaten, imprisoned for 23 days, stripped, sodomized, chained, drugged, flown to Afghanistan where he was again beaten and imprisoned for another four months, interrogated, threatened, denied legal representation, force fed and finally flown in a CSC-chartered plane to Albania, where he was left on a remote road in the middle of the night some 1500 kilometers from his home.

CSC was contracted for the flight as well as for other illegal CIA renditions, according to human rights charity Reprieve. CSC has so far refused a request by Reprieve to sign a pledge of “zero tolerance to torture,” and has also declined to respond to questions from Computer Weekly about the allegations.

Documents provided by Reprieve include invoices that show that CSC chartered N982RK, a Gulfstream jet, on the date El-Masri was abducted and logs provided by the civil-military air traffic safety regulator EuroControl show that N982RK few in stages from Washington to Kabul on May 26, 2004, and then to Kucova air base.

Aviation authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina called attention to the unusual flight patterns of the plane which had requested diplomatic permissions under a CIA identifier.

The U.S. has since admitted the abduction to German premier Angela Merkel.

“We think CSC was at the top of the contracting tree for this (CIA operation),” said Reprieve researcher Dr. Crofton Black. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that CSC was the prime contractor between the government and the companies that ran the flight operations.”

German ministries have been sharing IT services with the CIA and NSA and now it is learned that the German government does business with a company involved in abduction and torture—at a pretty handsome profit. http://international.sueddeutsche.de/post/67143760611/outsourcing-intelligence-sinks-germany-further-into

For years, CSC was one of the CIA’s largest contractors and records show that the CIA paid the firm $11 million to have el-Masri picked up in Kabul and subsequently tortured for months on end before finally being released as a victim of mistaken identity.

One online news story about the company notes that CSC is a “massive company,” with at least 11 subsidiaries in 16 locations in Germany alone. CSC and its subsidiaries are part of a secret industry, the military intelligence industry but do the “traditionally reserved for the military and intelligence agencies,” but at cheaper rates and under “much less scrutiny.

Germany has paid the company some $405 million since 1990 and over the past five years, the country has awarded more than 100 contracts to CSC and its subsidiaries.

The story said it is “no coincidence” that the company’s various German offices are often located near U.S. military bases.

Cyber Research Park and Barksdale AFB, home of the U.S. Air Force’s 2nd Bomb Wing and Global Strike Command, and nearly adjacent in their proximity to each other, with the proposed CSC facility and Barksdale separated only by I-20.


We certainly hope so.

Read Full Post »

As anticipated, Deloitte Consulting, which met regularly with state officials over the past year to assist in planning for a comprehensive consolidation of information technology (IT) services for the Division of Administration, was named winner of the contract for “Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services,” according to an email announcement by the Division of Administration (DOA) that went out to IT employees Thursday morning.

The announcement, which did not mention a contract amount, came only hours after LouisianaVoice indicated that Deloitte had the inside track for the contract on the strength of its working with state officials in the planning of a request for proposals (RFP) for the work.

The email said that the evaluation of proposals was complete and that work under the contract is slated to begin on Monday, September 16.

The announcement cited five other states with full IT consolidation. These included Michigan, Utah, Colorado, New Hampshire and New Mexico. It also listed eight other states with limited IT consolidation: Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and North Carolina.

The email, however, made no mention of the massive cost overruns experienced by several states in attempts at computer conversion and IT consolidation, including North Carolina, one of those put forward by the administration as an example:

  • North Carolina, one of the states cited as a model by the email has seen costs of a contract to modernize only one system, one to process the state’s Medicaid payments, go from the original $265 million to nearly $900 million;
  • California pulled the plug on its court computer system that was to connect all 58 of the state’s counties when the price tag leapt from $260 million to more than $500 million—with only seven courts using the system before the project was terminated.
  • Tennessee experienced repeated delays, missed deadlines and cost overruns and finally stopped work after seven years of development of its Vision Integration Platform (VIP). As is becoming more and more common with bad news, the announcement came late on a Friday in order to have minimal political impact. Tennessee also experienced problems with its much ballyhooed IT state projects that affected the Department of Children’s Services, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the state’s Project Edison payroll system. Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, by the way, announced last April that all of the state’s 1,600 information technology workers would be required to reapply for their jobs.
  • A consolidated service and network support project was supposed to consolidate IT services for 20 state agencies in Wisconsin at a cost of $12.8 million but cost overruns ran the price to more than $200 million, wiping out anticipated savings.
  • In Virginia a 10-year, $2.3 billion contract with Northrop Grumman to consolidate the state’s computer systems has been an ongoing nightmare of cost overruns and missed deadlines

The email touted lower overall operating costs through leveraging volume procurement, elimination of duplication, data center virtualization and standardization of IT architecture statewide.

It also said the project’s approach strategies would include capitalizing on vendor experience in other states, phased approach to consolidation of staff, agency involvement in the process and effective communication with agency staff regarding consolidation goals.

Now that Deloitte has been chosen for the contract, the next steps, according to the DOA announcement will be the selection of a project team, education of the vendor on Louisiana’s IT infrastructure and operations, survey and assessment, development of a plan of operational changes, and the request of software and hardware inventory.

Nothing was mentioned in the approach strategies about impending layoffs of state employees but that is a near certainty given the track record of other privatization/consolidation schemes rolled out by the administration.

And while DOA assures us that 36 states were reviewed in reaching the decision to consolidate the state’s IT services, one has to wonder if any time was spent examining other states in an effort to determine the cause of massive cost overruns, delays and missed deadlines.

Or is this simply yet another program fronted by Gov. Bobby Jindal but being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council?

This is not to say IT consolidation is the wrong thing but with the state’s budget already in the tank, it seems that a more open discussion, more sunshine as it were, would be appropriate before plunging into something that could ultimately break the bank—and still leave us with an inoperative system.

Read Full Post »

Ten companies have responded to that request for proposals (RFP) calling for the consolidation of information technology (IT) but because of the number of submissions, the scheduled awarding of the contract was moved back “seven to 14 days,” according to an email to bidders by Neal Underwood, assistant director of Statewide Technology.

One of the vendors being mentioned as the potential winner of the contract, expected to be worth millions of dollars, is Deloitte Consultants, one of three companies that met regularly with Division of Administration (DOA) representatives and state IT executives over the past year in discussions of what services they could provide the state.

Moreover, a confidential source said a Deloitte representative has already confided in several persons that the company “had a good shot” at winning the contract because it had been meeting with state officials over the past year.

That scenario evokes memories of the privatization of the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) a couple of years back. DOA brought Goldman Sachs in to help formulate the RFP for the privatization and the Wall Street banking firm was subsequently the lone bidder—at $6 million.

Goldman Sachs subsequently withdrew from the project in a dispute over indemnification but re-bid when the RFP was issued a second time. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana eventually landed the contract to administer the agency’s claims.

So now we have Deloitte working with state officials for a year to help formulate the RFP and the company is now said to have the inside track to winning the contract. Déjà vu all over again.

At least two other companies, including IBM, were said to have held meetings with the state in the months leading up to the issuance of the RFP. One of those reported to have attended those meetings was Northrop Grumman but that company was not one of the 10 companies submitting proposals, sources say.

Several other companies reportedly requested permission to attend the pre-proposal meetings but were denied the opportunity.

The meetings would seem to fly in the face of a July 19 memorandum from Richard “Dickie” Howze, interim state chief information officer, to DOA section heads and Council of Information Services directors in which he cautioned against any contact with potential vendors during the RFP process at the risk of possible termination.

“During this procurement process it is crucial that you and your staff do not have any contact with vendors who are potential proposers or who may be part of a proposals as a subcontractor regarding this RFP or other related RFPs,” the memo read.

Besides Deloitte and IBM, companies submitting proposals included Dell Marketing, First Data, Gabriel Systems, Information Services Group (ISG), KPMG, Peak Performance Technologies, RNR Consulting and Tecknomic.

Even though the RFP was only for “Information Technology Planning and Management Support Services,” the state wrote into the RFP that the vendor awarded the planning RFP would not be precluded from the implementation of the consolidation, in effect guaranteeing the winner of the planning contract the contract for implementation of the plans.

It also alluded to recommendations for “potential legislation to support effective implementation and administration” for “effective governance models for the statewide centralized IT services organization.”

It was not immediately clear why “potential legislation” would not have been addressed during the 2013 legislative session and prior to the issuance of the RFP as opposed to issuing a contract and then attempting to address legislative issues as they arose during the course of the contract.

In conjunction with the RFP, DOA also issued a request for information (RFI) for business reorganization (and) efficiencies planning and implementation consulting services which would seem to be an exercise in redundancy given the fact that a similar efficiency study was conducted during the tenure of former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis and that yet another such study is already underway using Six Sigma methodology.

Six Sigma is a methodology that employs tools and techniques for process improvement. The concept was pioneered by Motorola in 1981 and is widely used in different sectors of industry.

Just as with the RFP for the planning and management support services, several vendors responded with proposals. Oral presentations, as with the RFP, however, were limited to a select few companies, including Deloitte, McKinsey & Co., Alvarez & Marsal and CGI Technologies.

McKinsey & Co. is primarily an organization offering internships to trainees for conservative political causes. Gov. Bobby Jindal, who seems hell bent on privatizing virtually every agency and service in state government, worked for McKinsey & Co. for less than a year in the only private sector job he has ever held.

The RFI required that vendors, among other things, present their approach/methodology to identify operational efficiencies, experiences in other governmental settings, and the areas of governmental services “that would produce the maximum benefit.”

Portia Johnson, executive assistant to Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, sent an email to companies who submitted responses to the RFI. That email said:

“Thank you for your interest in RFI 107:01-000001238 Business Reorganization Efficiencies Planning and Implementation Consulting Services. Due to the vast response and in the interest of time, the State has chosen several vendors representative of the industry to interview. Although you have not been selected to proceed in the process, we have taken any documents submitted by you under advisement.”

Said another way: “You have been eliminated for consideration because we have other vendors with whom we prefer to do business. But we are going to go through your proposals and we will probably steal some of your ideas and you won’t get a dime for your efforts. Thank you for your trouble.”

  • CNSI and the federal investigation of its $200 million contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the ensuing resignation of DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein, who had maintained continued contact with his old bosses at CNSI during the bidding, selection and contract awarding processes;
  • Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) and its inside track advantage by virtue of its CEO/President also serving on the LSU Board of Stuporvisors, which issued the contract to BRF to run the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe;
  • Goldman Sachs helping to write the RFP for the takeover of OGB and subsequently being the only bidder on the RFP;
  • Meetings between state officials and vendors for a year leading up to the issuance of an RFP for the consolidation of IT services in more than 20 departments within the state’s executive branch;

Folks, we’re beginning to detect a pattern here.

Read Full Post »

The Division of Administration (DOA) on Friday issued a new request for proposals (RFP) for the consolidation of the information technology (IT) departments of 20 departments within the state’s Executive Branch. http://wwwprd1.doa.louisiana.gov/OSP/LaPAC/agency/pdf/5479100.pdf

July 12 is the deadline for submissions and Aug. 16 is the target date to announce the awarding of the contract, tentatively set to begin on Aug. 30, according to the RFP.

This is sure to be yet another contract to be awarded to some company who will in all likelihood underbid the cost and come back later with expensive contract amendments like F.A. Richard and Associates (FARA) with the Office of Risk Management and CNSI with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to mention two that come quickly to mind.

But even more important, it appears that possibly hundreds—maybe more than 1,000—of state IT employees will be losing their jobs as a result of the new contract which probably will end up costing the state more money than the current in-house IT systems.

The Office of Information Services (OIS) is responsible for the development, implementation and support of the Integrated Statewide Information System (ISIS) application as well as the DOA programmatic and desktop application, including traditional application development of large complex systems run on the DOA mainframe, client service applications run on midrange computers and Web-based applications.

Remember when Carol Steckel tried to fire 69 IT employees and to contract out DHH’s Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology services to the University of New Orleans?

In that case, she got a little ahead of herself by holding a conference call with the IT employees last December to announce that their jobs would be gone in January. The employees returned to their work stations after that call only to find they had been locked out of their computers. These were the employees who, among other things, help other state employees with their computer problems.

After the Civil Service Commission, in a rare moment of lucidity, denied Steckel’s layoff plan because of insufficient information, UNO backed out of its agreement to take over the agency’s IT services.

An IT employee with DHH’s Center for Health Care Innovation and Technology wrote LouisianaVoice that employees had been misinformed on future employment by DHH executives on three separate occasions. “At each meeting, we felt as though we were being threatened with furlough without pay, having to pay 100 percent of COBRA to maintain our insurance, (and) being threatened (with) not receiving our 300 hours of saved annual leave,” the employee wrote.

In March, Jan Cassidy, sister-in-law of Congressman Bill Cassidy, was hired to head DOA’s Procurement and Technology section at a salary of $150,000 per year, prompting one observer to ask, “What is she going to procure? The state is broke and there’s an expenditure freeze.”

Apparently we will be getting the answer to that question when the proposals start coming in from vendors and a contract is awarded.

Jan Cassidy previously worked for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for 20 months, from June 2009 to January 2011 and for 23 months, from January 2011 to November 2012, for Xerox after Xerox purchased ACS.

As Xerox Vice President—State of Louisiana Client Executive, her tenure was during a time that the company held two large contracts with the state.

The first was a $20 million contract with DHH that ran from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011 and paid Xerox $834,000 per month.

The second contract was for $74.5 million, 100 percent of which was funded by a federal community development block grant (remember how Jindal abhors federal money?) and which ran from March 27, 2009 to March 26, 2012 and required ACS/Xerox to administer a small rental property program to help hurricane damaged parishes recover rental units.

A state contract data base search by LouisianaVoice turned up four contracts with ACS totaling $45.55 million and campaign finance reports revealed three ACS political contributions totaling $10,000 to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In Texas, an ACS contract awarded by the Rick Perry administration quadrupled to $1.4 billion as Texas Medicaid spent more on braces in 2010 ($184 million) than the other 49 states combined but which an audit found that 90 percent of the reimbursements were not covered by Medicaid.

The Wall Street Journal said statewide fraud reached hundreds of millions of dollars as ACS spent more than $6.9 million lobbying Texas politicians from 2002 to 2012.

In June of 2007, ACS agreed to pay the federal government $2.6 million to settle allegations that it had submitted inflated charges for services provided through the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Labor and Health and Human Services by submitted inflated claims to a local agency that delivered services to workers using funds provided by the three federal agencies.


In Washington, D.C. the Department of Motor Vehicles reimbursed $17.8 million to persons wrongly given parking tickets. The contract that operated the District’s ticket processing was ACS.

In 2010, ACS settled charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had backdated stock option grants to its officers and employees.


In Alabama, Steckel, then director of the state Medicaid agency, awarded a $3.7 million contract to ACS in 2007 even though the ACS bid was $500,000 more than the next bid. ACS, of course, had a decided edge in getting that contract: it hired Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s former chief of staff Toby Roth. And Steckel, of course came to Louisiana to work for DHH though she still maintained her residence—and, apparently, her vehicle registration—in Alabama. http://www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2007/8/22/Alabama-Contract-for-Medicaid-Database-Sparks-Controversy.aspx


Steckel first said the proposed contract with UNO would save DHH $2.1 million over three years but later revised that figure upward to $7 million, prompting members of the Civil Service Commission to express “zero confidence” in her figures and to reject her layoff plan.

Jan Cassidy also worked for 19 years, from 1986 to 2005, for Unisys Corp. where she led a team of sales professionals marketing hardware and systems applications, “as well as consulting services to Louisiana State Government,” according to her website.

Unisys had five separate state contracts from 2002 to 2009 totaling $53.9 million, the largest of which ($21 million) was with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and which was originally signed to run from April 1, 2008, through Nov. 30, 2009, but which State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson cancelled in April of 2009, saying he was dissatisfied with the work and that his staff could complete the project.

That contract called for an upgrade to the state computer system that dealt with driver’s licenses, vehicle titles and other related issues within the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles.


Altogether, the 23 agencies account for 1,158 IT employees who stand to lose their jobs with the awarding of a contract for the consolidation.

The agencies and the number of filled positions to be affected are as follows:

• Executive: 275;

• Public Safety: 142;

• Children and Family Services: 120;

• Transportation and Development: 111;

• Health and Hospitals: 62;

• Revenue and Taxation: 88;

• Retirement Systems: 58;

• Workforce Commission (formerly Labor): 45;

• Civil Service: 8;

• Agriculture: 13;

• Corrections: 39;

• Economic Development: 3;

• Education: 44;

• Environmental Quality: 29;

• Insurance: 8;

• Natural Resources: 30;

• State: 25;

• Treasury: 3;

• Wildlife and Fisheries: 24;

• Culture, Recreation and Tourism: 14;

• Juvenile Justice 5;

• Public Service Commission; 7;

Given problems and cost overruns in other states, there have to be concerns over similar problems or questions whether there even is a company out there willing to submit a proposal that has not gotten contracts under questionable circumstances or which found it necessary to come back later for costly contract amendments.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, the operative term was FUBAR. In administration Jindal, the concern should be whether or not we might be headed for another CNSI or ACS/Xerox scenario.

Read Full Post »

The late comedian Brother Dave Gardner once said, “I believe if a man’s down, kick him. If he survives it, he has a chance to rise above it.”

As a loyal follower of Brother Dave since the days of my long gone wasted youth of so many years ago, it is not mine to question. I was, after all, brought up in the Baptist Church (but switched to Methodist when I married) where I was taught that faith surpasses all understanding—or something like that.

So even though my thought processes tell me it’s wrong to kick anyone, especially when he’s down, my heart must follow the teachings of the one who said he was a preacher (but he preached “for it,” whatever “it” was). To do otherwise would be blasphemy.

So here goes: It looks as though Superintendent of Education John White may have lied again (insert collective audible gasp from readers).

White, named last December by the Education Clearinghouse web blog as the worst education superintendent in the country http://educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/louisianas-john-white-the-worst-superintendent-in-the-country/, announced on April 19 that he was withdrawing student information from a non-profit database run by NewsCorp. Owner Rupert Murdoch and linked to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Or did he?

He made the announcement only days after talking up the arrangement to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), which had been unaware of his agreement to “park” student data in the inBloom “garage.”

LouisianaVoice first broke the story last February that White had entered into an agreement with inBloom to provide sensitive personal data on hundreds of thousands of Louisiana school children—with no guarantee from inBloom that the data would not be susceptible to intrusion or hacking.

The inBloom contract with Gates also would have allowed for the unrestricted subcontracting of duties and obligations covered under the agreement.

Murdoch said in 2010, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.” http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/blog/jeb-bushs-education-nonprofit-really-about-corporate-profits?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+itpi-blog+%28ITPI+Commentary+Feed%29.

White met in September 2011 with Peter Gorman, senior vice president of Wireless Generation, the newly-formed education division of NewsCorp. It was in an exchange of emails with Gorman that White told Gorman, “Dude, you are my recharger.”

In a January email to White, Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) executive assistant Vicky Thomas informed White that the department was participating in the data storage agreement with inBloom.

When news of the agreement between DOE and inBloom first became public, many parents protested to DOE about the furnishing of student data to the Murdoch company. NewsCorp had been involved in a major computer hacking scandal in Europe only months before and parents were wary of allowing the release of sensitive data to his company—or anyone else.

When White made the announcement on April 19 that he was rescinding the agreement, inBloom immediately tweeted, “Louisiana still part of inBloom community. Many inaccuracies in coverage.”

LouisianaVoice made a public records request three days later on April 22, for “the official letter or email that you sent to inBloom to cancel the data storage agreement as per the lead paragraph…from the Monroe News Star.”

White, openly flaunting the state’s public records law, ignored the request until LouisianaVoice filed a lawsuit seeking that and other records requested of the department. On Thursday, May 9, only days away from next Monday’s court hearing on LouisianaVoice’s lawsuit, DOE forwarded the last of a flurry of responses to various records requests.

Those responses obviously will be used as a defense that the department did, in fact, respond to all our records requests. Overlooked, apparently, is a provision in state law that says records must be produced immediately, not several months down the road and done so only to head off pending litigation.

Thursday’s response from DOE attorney Troy Humphrey said:

“Our public information office has requested that I inform you that the Department is not in possession of any public record(s) responsive to the above-written request.”

Wait. What?

If you have an agreement with an entity to provide personal data on hundreds of thousands of students, wouldn’t it be fair to assume there would be a contract or at least a memorandum of understanding setting out the terms and conditions of the agreement?

And if there is a contract and/or a memorandum of understanding, wouldn’t it also be fair to assume that if that agreement were cancelled by either party, there would be a letter or at least an email to that effect? A paper trail, as it were?

Is White so naïve that he can enter into and exit from an agreement as momentous as this without some official documentation?

He previously had either neglected or refused to provide copies of a memorandum of understanding with inBloom and now he’s trying to tell us that there is no written record of his withdrawing from the agreement?

Wow. Talk about a leap of faith.

Perhaps Rep. Alan Seabaugh needs to give him a call to jog his memory.

Or better yet, maybe Peter Gorman should check in. He was, after all, White’s “recharger.”

If and when Gov. Bobby Jindal or BESE President Chas Roemer gives White a “vote of confidence,” you’ll know he’s toast.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,798 other followers

%d bloggers like this: