Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, October 18, 2004

2004: The year we find out what we got in re voting reform

It's been 4 years since the shambles of the 2000 elections.

In the world of government acquisition, that's just about enough time to move a piece of paper across the country, have it approved, and start something like a solution.

One would think that after four years, we might have a better result than we did in 2000.

But, we are not going to be afforded with such an outcome.


Despite the 2000 disaster, we already have early signs that there are problems with voting machines.

Let's review what has happened. Rather than assent to public demands for openness, certain contractors like Diebold have gone on the hunt to silence discussion about the problems.

Rather than allow the public to freely discuss the open issues related to concerns over the voting machines, this nation sat idly by while the contractor [the one that was being paid to deliver these products] was actually doing their job.

This is not to say that Diebold is causing the problems in Florida. Rather, we have yet to understand what is at the heart of the matter.

What is known is that despite four years to get this right, this country is still getting it wrong.

Federal interest without accountability

I give up: What happened to the program manager?

Who is this person?

What effort was made to ensure that the lessons learned from 2000 were adequately injected into the performance baseline to ensure we got this situation solved?

I do not care who the actual program manger is. The real leader is in the White House. And this President has shown that he did not put emphasis on the issues related to voting.

It doesn't matter why. All that matters at this point is that despite four years, we still have a problem.

That is unacceptable.

Credible leadership would ensure there was a solution, not excuses; that the lessons formed the baseline for reform, and that sufficient personnel with the requisite talent and skill completed the job.

This includes testing. Validation. Ensuring that the "whatever we got" actually fixed the problem.

To suggest this late in the game that "it was someone else's fault" misses the point. What we do know is that there's a problem. And there was no adequately validation-testing done of that final product to ensure the errors were fixed well in advance of the need date.

This is called leadership. It is called planning. It is called ensuring that the product you plan to deliver is working, and that there is adequate slack time built into your plan to ensure that the problems can be resolved.

This President failed to ensure that objective was met.

Indeed, the problem are in Florida, but as we saw before the Supreme Court when dealing with a "national election" the Federal Courts do have a role.

Selective application of "federal interest"

So, although some might suggest that the Federal Government "has no role, this is a state matter," I ask you: Where were you in 2000 with Bush v Gore; Gore v. Bush?

Recall that it was the failure of state-level-managed institutions that allegedly so jeopardized our nation that the Supreme Court felt it appropriate, prudent, and constitutional to inject its voice.

Federal interest without federal planning

I ask you, given the precedent of a clear federal interest in local elections, why was there no equally compelling interest by the Congress to ensure that adequately funding was provided to remedy this clearly federal-level interest?

We have no answer, because we have no leadership. We simply have more smoke and mirrors.

To truly believe that this Congress, President, and Judicial branch have a credible leadership-grasp on "what is going on," we need only look to the unfolding voting shambles.

Federal interest without federal emphasis

On one hand in 2000, the court made it clear that the Federal government had a role, interest, and duty to take action. Yet, by 2004, we still have problems. Where were the "federal-level-leaders" when it comes to ensuring that this federal interest was adequately managed?

Where was the funding to ensure that this federal-interests was adequately planned, priced, baselined, funded, and executed against a baseline that met the need date, and ensured there was adequate testing to meet that requirement?

Where were the experts in the various acquisition fields that could share their federal-level expertise from federal contracts to ensure that this program was adequately managed?

Today, we are asked to believe that somehow there's no one to blame, nothing to be done, and no one to hold accountable.

Sure there is. The acquisition community has a body of knowledge, has leaders, even has people sharing information from DoD and ensuring personnel within the FAA and DoJ have the information and institutional support to ensure that these lessons learned are disseminated.

Federal interest without federal leadership

Why, if there was such a compelling federal interest in 2000 was there not a balanced federal-level effort to ensure the lessons learned were disseminated and addressed?

Who put together the list of lessons learned?

To what extent were the "Oh, give up, Bush won, and we don't want to hear about Diebold" used as the excuse to avoid oversight?

How many people provided testimony to Congress saying, "This Federal level interest is being met, we are on target, and our testing shows we're ready to go"?

At every turn, we have major contract efforts across the country issuing statements, reporting results, ensuring their end-product not only meets the specifications, but is delivered in a time, place, and manner that does the job.

We have great warriors committing their lives to fight for freedom abroad using this equipment.

Are we asking ourselves to believe that "nothing could be done" and "there is no solution"? This is absurd!

All this money devoted to Homeland Security, new data systems, space launch vehicles, modern equipment to support our troops on the battlefield and on the shores around the globe...and this President wants us to believe that things are just going great.

Brilliant. We can't even get a voting machine to work right. Nor can we get the equipment needed to protect our troops so that they can safely deliver fuel, food, and parts in a combat zone.

It is not that tough. But despite the catalyst of 2000 and the "new era" to fight terrorism following 9-11, suddenly we are being asked to believe the fiction that "we can't do anything" and "this is the best we can do."

Hogwash. We simply need someone who is going to lead.

This President, indeed even on a compelling Federal interest like voting for President, can't put together a team to make sure the situation is solved.

God help the troops trying to vote in Iraq.