Monday, April 11

You're too stoopid to do your job ... let's outsource it!

It's lunchtime, and I need to vent. But first, a disclaimer:

Anything expressed in this post is purely my opinion as a private citizen and not in any way to be taken as an official post in my professional capacity.

While I may occasionally think we have some upper management who seem to be lacking two functioning neurons to rub together, I still love to do my job - when they get out of my way and let me do it. I'd hate to lose it simply because someone thinks this post is anything except me as a public servant exercising my right to speak on issues of public importance
(PICKERING v. BOARD OF EDUCATION, 391 U.S. 563 (1968)).

So then ... CYA complete, now on to our regularly scheduled programming:

If any of you out there ever consider working for the government, listen up. This is one of the reasons why you should run away as fast as you can.

As many of you know, I work for the central IT division of a government entity. A couple of years ago, someone near the top of the food chain arbitrarily decided that the current central web server was not meeting our needs. Consequently, our reliable and functional web server (which, by the way, was running the free open source web server Apache that runs 70% of the world's web sites) was summarily trashed and replaced with a multimillion dollar proprietary commercial web serving and content management system. About the same time, our chief information officer stood up in front of an all staff meeting and told us all that we did "not have the skills in-house" to manage large enterprise-level systems.

Umm. What? Excuse me? Did you just tell the people who built these self-same systems that we don't have the skills to make them run?

Gee. Thanks. Could you slap the other side of my face so that the bruises match? I'd hate to be unsymmetric.

So here we are, many months and millions of dollars later we have a system Rube Goldberg would be proud of - bloated, slow, horrendously expensive, excessively complex, fragile, and singularly lacking in useful features. All those folks screaming about DMV or Water billing computer systems are missing a boondoggle of a whole new order of magnitude.

What's worse, just last month the stuffed shirts decide that we're so far out of our league that we just have to outsource the whole thing entirely - to the same company that built this white elephant in the first place. Our core web server just trotted off to Texas.

Fine, I grit my teeth and pretend it works well and is a wise use of our taxpayer dollars. As I am blowing a huge chunk of my morning changing one character on a web page ("April 10th" to "April 11th" - a 30 second job on just about any normal system), I hear a ding from my mailbox. Lo and behold, what do I see:

Subject: E-Government Web Servers at max capacity: Need to shut down from 12:30-1:00pm




<hysterical giggle>


Support personnel will shut down and restart all identity servers and web servers to enable E-Government technical staff to quickly diagnosis the surge in intranet traffic that is causing significant slowdowns on website page loading, etc.

<fall out of chair>

Let me get this straight, Mr. Public Administrator Manager Who Has No Friggin' Clue How To Read His E-mail Without Having His Secretary Print it Out For Him ... first you decide to spend tens of millions of dollars on a system we don't need. Then you decide to insult the people who make all this technology work by telling us peons that we are too stupid to do our jobs. Then you decide - because we are so stupid - that you need to outsource a core system to the same incompetent contractor who built it in the first place.

With me so far? Now that we have the sundae, let's add some toppings, shall we?

Let's take one of the most mission critical information systems anywhere in the organization down in the middle of the business day because it's too bloated, over-engineered and underpowered to handle the load.

Wow. Whipped cream, a ton of nuts, and a cherry on top! Wow, they really take stuff over the top, huh?

It's not every day the organization's core web server gets shut completely down in the middle of the day so they can troubleshoot it because the morons who designed it - the very same incompetent idiots who it got outsourced to - managed to spend millions of dollars on a system that barfs when it sees a load spike. After all, us peons are all too stupid to do anything so complicated as operate a letter opener, so by all means, let's ship the whole damn thing to Texas! They seem to have enough idiots down there that the whole million monkeys banging away on the typewriters effect will eventually kick in and produce a work of art - it worked for Shakespeare, right?