Friday, October 12, 2012

Govmint Work

I used to joke quite a bit about how cush my gig is with the fed.  Well, it is pretty sweet, but I still have to do some difficult work fairly regularly.  However, new contractor hires for the fed do have the best gig in the world, bar none.

Get this...

Our group needed another developer to keep up with the growing demands for output, mostly related to the conversion of the ICD-9 coding system (medical terms map to a number, etc.) to ICD-10.  It's such a big job that the Health and Human Services secretary recently pushed back implementation one full year.  It's not just a VA thing, but affects every aspect of medical record keeping and billing in the US.

So.. the company that won the contract to provide warm bodies to the VA needed to hire to fill the jobs.  One of the jobs that was needed was a developer.  Last January, I sat in on the interviews to provide subject matter expertise and we picked a guy.  He turned down the job, so we picked the other guy.  That's right.. there were only 2 guys applying for a 100k/year job.  I thought that was pretty crazy.. but really isn't the point of the story.

The second guy accepted the offer.. and it wasn't like he is less skilled than the guy that turned down the job, but rather his verbal skills weren't as strong.  One thing I've learned over the last 10 years is that you have to have exceptional verbal skills in order to break through the din of a distributed office environment.  The guy who got the job is shy.. older, and has a mouth full of marbles.  He does seem technically proficient  however, and that's all I really care about.  He'll be able to get things done when he's on the job.

This is where it gets ridiculous.

The guy who got the job quit his former job, and started with the new company as a contractor to the VA.  Everyone who comes on board has to get a security clearance with the federal government, and that means a background investigation and all that.  It is now 9 months later and he still hasn't got his security clearance.  That means he's had no access to do any work at all.  He's basically done nothing but read email for 9 months and get paid for it.

In retrospect, I'll bet he regrets quitting his former job.  He could have done both jobs and had a hell of a year.

There is a massive amount of government waste.  That doesn't mean that what the government does is not vital, it just means that the bureaucratic process eats a vast amount of resources without providing any tangible benefit.  The people who actually do work are a tiny subset in a system packed with people who do nothing but slow everything down.  Sure, there are necessary safeguards to ensure that no one person can make a mistake that has serious implications, but the balance point is whacked right now.

If the OPM needs more investigators to do the security clearance work, they should get them.  Instead, they pack the staff with people who don't actually do the work, but rather manage the process.  Government has truly become all about process, and much less about the work product.  That's where the waste in government is, but since the people that make the decisions are huge part of the waste, it's not going to change.

The guy that's been sitting around doing nothing for a year doesn't cost taxpayers 100k.  That's his take.  The Process must be fed, and its share is mammoth.  My health insurance plan costs $15,000 on its own.

I recently needed to deliver a release candidate for a major package of updates in a short amount of time.  The people that drive The Process had very urgent meetings about prioritizing the work and setting very rigid schedules that needed to be met.  This was done with the utmost seriousness.

I finished the release candidate and had it installed in the test environments of 3 hospitals about a month and a half ago.  The regulations require that the testing scripts be completed and signed off on by the hospitals, and then we request permission to install the RC in the 3 hospital's production environment.  It's been nearly 2 months since we requested the authorization for production install.  We cannot release the software without production installs in our 3 test sites for 2 weeks duration, therefore we cannot release the package that was so important to The Process that the highest Lords of the Govmint that they put me on the hook, or the chopping block, or the dead-and-we-mean-dead-line, and then turned around and are basically ignoring the paperwork needed to get it released.

Keep in mind, these people add no value to the software.  They are part of the Govmint machine that wastes vast amounts of money.

Government doesn't need to be "smaller".  It needs to be less dominated by personalities.  These personalities only know that they need to make money and don't have any real skills at all in creating something meaningful or usable.  They expand The Process as a means to keep themselves employed.

It is the concept of;

1 comment:

Kor said...

Ah the joys of Federal security clearance, I'm in the middle of having mine upgraded and I'm sure I won't see the fruits of that process for at least another half a year.