IT Acquisition Reform

There’s a great article today at DefenseLink about the need for information technology acquisition reform on behalf of the DoD. The bottom line: current IT acquisition is patterned after conventional weapons systems acquisition in ways that suited large scale industrial manufacturing, but run counter to the nature of the speedy development, adoption, and enhancements of information technology.

It’s not new to make this observation about IT acquisition. What’s new is the interest on the part of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the recognition by the White House that something drastic must be done quickly.

You can read the article online here.

Shock drowning at 47 years old: R.I.P. Rajeev Motwani

I just read that Rajeev Motwani was found dead Friday in the pool of his Palo Alto home. Very bizarre.

Motwani was the 47 year old Stanford professor who served as inspiration and advisor to many Silicon Valley success stories. Google co-founder Sergey Brin posted a reflection on Motwani on his blog on Friday.

Perhaps we’ll hear more as a complete report of the cause of his death becomes public.

But in the meantime, the moral I get out of this is: no matter how much fun your life might be, no matter what impact you may or may not have on the world … life is short.

Live well.

Online Technology and Journalism

Today I met with my fellow members of the National Press Club’s “Joan Friedenberg Online Journalism Awards” committee. Together we selected the results for this year’s awards categories, to be officially announced by press release from the Club, later this year.

As good as previous years’ candidates have been, this year’s submissions were even more advanced, displaying better uses of technology, more innovating ways to integrate online capabilities into the reporting process and the news consumer experience.

But as close as the competition was, the overall results were virtually unanimous. Stay tuned for the results: they’ll be announced sometime in the next several weeks.

GPS and Airliners

The US Navy this morning announced that they are joining the search for the missing Air France airliner, which disappeared off of radar early yesterday morning while en route from Brazil to Paris. The situation leaves me wondering … isn’t there global positioning satellite (GPS) capability on board these planes?

The answer is “yes” but the signals are not automatically sent to air traffic controllers – this according to Reuters in an article this morning titled “How Planes Get Lost“. [1]

The United States is working on such a system. It’s intended implementation date: 2013.

In the meantime, there still is no evidence indicating what may have happened to that particular Air France plane. As was reported this morning by Steve Huettell in the St. Petersburg Times, “If a plane crashes into the water, a homing beacon transmits an ultrasonic ping that can be picked up by sonar and underwater hydrophones. The signal carries to the surface from nearly 4 miles underwater for 30 days.” [2]

No such signal has yet to be reported.


[1] Reuters, FACTBOX: How planes get lost, Wed Jun 3, 2009 4:32am IST,

[2] St. Petersburg Times, Air France jet’s black boxes are deep in Atlantic, June 3, 2009, Steve Huettel,

Oracle and Primavera

Starting this Friday (June 5, 2009), the website will begin autoforwarding to the Oracle corporate website. The acquisition by Oracle Corporation of Primavera is another in a long line of acquisitions by Oracle, and a worthy one for the software giant. Primavera software is a respected project management software platform with better built-in support for Earned Value Management that Microsoft Project or other systems.  Not that EVM can’t be done in the other systems, but Primavera has handled it for quite some time now with built-in functionality, making it a recognized leader in the field of EVM systems. With increased budget pressures and a greater need for project managers to integrate demonstrable results that track directly to the bottom line, EVM is an increasingly important element of project management. And now that Primavera is within the Oracle family, perhaps we can look forward to better integration with the growing legion of Applications within the Oracle universe.

Cyber Czar: Long Overdue

Friday’s announcement by President Obama concerning his appointment of a national director for cyber security is appropriate. But it would be a mistake to assume that this new announcement from the White House somehow implies that nobody in the federal government has been concerned with cyber security. On the contrary, several organizations have engaged in various forms of cyber defensive maneuvers and more. It’s this splintering of responsibility that makes the President’s announcement very welcome and intriguing.

Less than a year ago, I attended a briefing presented by USAF Major General William Lord, commander of the provisional Air Force Cyber Command. His presentation was bold and visionary, declaring the international networks to be a battlefield comparable to any other, in which battles were fought and real casualties realized. The conclusion was a bold plan for establish a comprehensive approach to establishing a clear military presence in cyber space. In doing this, Maj. Gen. Lord declared the USAF to be the leader of this charge.


The presentation was impressive. And the Air Force commitment is consistent, and at the highest levels. In April, 2009, a new course titled “Cyberspace Operations Executive Course” was made available at Maxwell Air Force Base, for three- and four-star generals. And in May of this year, Gen. Lord was promoted to be the new CIO for the USAF, replacing Lt. Gen. William Shelton. With the CIO title, Lord has also been nominated for the new rank of Lt. General. Elevating Lord to CIO underscores the significance of the role that cyber security will play in the USAF going forward.
Meanwhile, however, NSA has been very busy. There’s an interesting statement released at the NSA website’s official news section, by Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, Commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, and reportedly slated to lead the military’s efforts under President Obama’s new cyber security initiatives. In that statement, Lt. Gen. Alexander reports that USSTRATCOM has moved the Joint Task Force – Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO) under Alexander’s authority.
His statement goes on to state that “DoD is considering the establishment of a new sub-unified command for Cyber, under USSTRATCOM, that would be headquartered at Fort Meade.”
It’s worth noting that DISA is already scheduled to relocate to Fort Meade in 2010.
This convergence of organizations is timely and critical to the future operations that will work to protect the nation’s cyber resources.