Thursday, May 21, 2009

Effective Presentations

Sorry for the lack of posting, but the other day, while changing the light bulb in the bathroom, I fell and hit my head on the toilet. However, when I came to I had a vision. A vision of how one might construct the ideal order for a final presentation for a customer sales pitch of a combat sytem. Allow me to relay it here because in any other venue people would most assuredly not care at all.

First, I think if I were standing on the stage the audience would want to know who I was, so I'd start off by telling them about my company and any past performance that related to our offering. In my dream I was surrounded by a team of equally talented players, but for some reason they each looked like a member of the 7 dwarves. Nevertheless, that team deserved an org chart, so I'd show that information knowing that soon the audience would want me to get to the technical solution.

I would then tell them about the conops and the system. Of course, systems don't just appear out of nowhere, so I'd elaborate with my systems engineering approach. In my dream it looked like a figure-8-mobius-stripped-v-chart that spiraled back such that the design phase intersected at a point of singularity from which the space-time continuum erupted. Your results may vary.

Then I would elaborate on the systems engineering approach. I'm a bit hazy on that part, and when I asked one of my dwarves what parts of the system engineering process I should present he replied, "How hard did you hit your head? You've been doing this for the past 6 weeks at the cost of health, wealth, and friendships. If it isn't glaringly apparent which are the key aspects of your design by now, and how to organize it, then I'll eat my own floppy hat."

I hope he chokes on his hat.

Then a string of subsystem visions passed through dripping with key features and benifits along with design decisions that solidified our design as the only viable solution.

Of course, the likelihood of a combat system just coming together is about as likely as a proposal coming together when the predominant answer to a question is, "design decision." However, miracles do happen, and in this case the "miracle" is the program management approach. So my vision concluding with a hefty does of management processes, risks, schedule and cost.

Finally, just as the proposal summary slide (in the form of a tasteful quad chart) faded from view I awoke and went to Gaetanos. It's amazing the bad decisions one will make in the wake of a concussion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Save Fluffandstuff!

We came across another leak from DTDC. This one gives us great insight into the strengths of a least one competitor and dispels quite a few myths about their ability to execute.

Thank you, Mr. F. Jeeze, whever you are!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Integrate THIS!

This week I came a cross a bit more detail regarding the downfall of SynerComm, last year's dethroned winner of the BMDCS contract. 

If you recall the company's President and CEO, S. G. Pennyapple, promised us that SynerComm's program management approach, low cost systems engineering design and technical performance provides the DTDC the best possible offering for BMDCS success. 

What they didn't count on with their newfangled ERP system? Software integration and test. They should AT LEAST have had their software components interfacing with each other by IOA. Even a simple, "Hello, world!" from Radar to Mission Software would have sufficed. However, they decided to go in Guns-A-Blazin into their FOA integrating it all on the spot. Needless to say calamity broke loose. A high-ranking DTDC official had his chest hair singed from his body by an errant laser slew. Another key decision maker was forced to go WEEKS without a trip to the gym  as he worked overtime to justify to Congress why they should continue to fund the disasterous effort. 

His ultimate justification borne of late nights and undeserved protein shakes? The next BMDCS will come with an air-tight Software Integration and Test plan. Hopefully one of these contractors pays attention to whatever the SOW says about this topic. If they fail again to come up with a solid schedule, sound build plan, and terrific lab facilities, you can be sure we see BMDCS on the block again next year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ground Control to Major Flaw

Far more reliable than the one provided by DTDC
Root cause analysis is a fun game. Essentially something goes wrong and you keep asking why until you get to the bottom of the pile. Unfortunately, root cause at the Department of the DTC will overflow one's stack before you get where you want to go. Why do so many of their programs fail?

Well, one likely cause is their constant parade of misinformation to the contractors. Take their joint command as one example. My source at the DTDC told me that despite all the confusion all a BMDCS needs is 1U of space in their rack for a DTDC communication system. Apparently it has the same power, space, and weight requirements of a Dell Poweredge Server 1950 III. How it communicates with Joint Command is a mystery to me and no clearer that what exactly is joint command. Is it in the sky? Is it on the moon? Is it on a time traveling island? I don't know!

Another example is their whole set of enclosure studies that Serling talked about. They also ran some disinformation saying that the enclosures included batteries. Well, once again we find that the power supply of the enclosure draws from an external power source (most likely the BMDCS generator). We all know a power supply is necessary to support power hungry servers with voltage and frequency regulation, important bypass systems and power factor corrections (for use with small generators). The enclosure power supplies protect against surges, spikes, lightning, poor frequency and voltage conditions. Of course, all that rests upon the contractors realizing that if their enclosure doesn't come with a power supply then they need to buy one. They'll catch on...eventually.

Constructive Conflict

No doubt some of you out there are facing the challenge of decision-making in a group setting. Ever hear the phrase "A camel is a horse designed by committee"? I can only imagine the time wasted by contractors that can't figure out how to convey a trade study. No doubt many wasted hours during a proposal process are a direct result of shoddy, laborious, and time-consuming decision-making spinning in circles as you sort past egos, biases and paradigms to figure out which answer is least worst. 

We here at DTDC Watchdog have employed a rather elegant solution to the problem which I feel  obligated to share with you on this rainy hump day. 


Sunday, May 3, 2009

BMDCS in a Box

A fellow watcher that goes by the name "Serling" sent us this note on the BMDCS enclosures.

"The DTDC has done it again. Have they even heard of competition? They are apparently mandating the use of one of three companies for procurement of the computing hardware’s enclosure. Who are these companies you ask? One is one of those huge expensive machines that makes $1000 hammers, one has only been in business for 2 years and the other has never even made military enclosures. What sort of a choice is that?

Half of the enclosures don’t include power, and more than half aren’t even qualified to military standards. Who even knows what sort of lead time these things have. There’s a chance that none of the enclosures even meet the needs of the BMDCS; is there even an option to use any of those companies’ other enclosures?

I shouldn’t be surprised by this move by the DTDC, making something more complicated than it needs to be. Here’s (probably uselessly) hoping that the final product not only meets technical requirements but, for the sake of our armed forces using this product, it isn’t held up by cost, schedule, and risk."
Enclosures sound like a small detail, and insignificant compared to the larger pieces of the BMDCS puzzle. However the enclosure houses the mission software, also known as the brains of the operation. Computer hardware exposed to the elements is not long for operation. Cut off the head and the body follows!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Awful Contractors are Awful Generous!

or maybe they're just collecting 'low cost' parts for their BMDCS...
In a move that is certain to gain favor with the DTDC, members of the Tareo capture team supported a philanthropic event in Palmyra, New Jersey.
If they can clean up waste in goverment spending like they clean up a beach, this will bode quite well for their runnings in the capture effort.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Looks like we entered the bigtime folks. Click on the image to see a letter sent to us by the evil empire itself!

While its obvious this letter is a load of bologna designed to turn back our noble work to find the truth, there's one detail worth pointing out.

They say they design for a probability of kill of 80%. What if the ARS mortars land near the BMDCS unit itself? Say this question outloud and see if it makes sense, "There is a 1 in 5 chance that a $150 million dollar system is destroyed."

Your tax dollars at work!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sell Your Sole Source

Ahoy fellow DTDC vigilantes! This week I happened upon a bit of information regarding the intended producers of the BMDCS TR Modules, RF Corp.

"RF Corp. is headquartered in Syracuse, NY. They have been producing high quality T/R modules for over 15 years and have been supplying DTDC contractors with modules for 10 years. DTDC used their T/R modules for the successful AN/TPS-559 and MSTAR programs."

That's not a lot of information, but would more information even be helpful? Probably not. What would be great to know is that if the DTDC is going to buy so many TR modules for their systems, is RF Corp able to establish volume discounts? It'll be like Costco for obsolete technology!

May I have ten thousand marbles, please?

Niedermayer! DEAD!
Dean Wormer! DEAD!
Hopes of successful BMDCS execution! DEAD!

Here's some more information on the contractors. Not only are they technical incompetent but programmatically they lack ability, too. Looking at past government records, we find that one company went waaay over Cost on some of their recent projects. They have a long way to go to prove that the million plus dollars spent on each BMDCS will not become 10s of millions. Our next lack-luster participant can't create a Schedule, let alone perform to one. They should have completed their last contract in 4 years. At the 4 year mark they were still figuring out what goes into a successful PDR presentation. The final company gets caught off guard more often a five year old in a fun house. If they don't learn to effectively manage Risk they'll find themselves crying alone in the middle of the mirror maze just like I...never did.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rich Contractor, Poor Contractor

Money well spent Did you know that under the Freedom of Information Act we, the American public, can inquire with government agencies who must then provide documentation on their actions? The whole idea is that this law improves visibility and accountability to the contractors that do what the image to the right so eloquently captures.

Of course like so many government initiatives this sounds great on paper, but in the end those companies, even the ones accepting billions of dollars are in no way required to be particularly transparent or responsive. Did you know it can take months to get a response on a FOIA request for money available to contractor?

That time limit is particularly prohibitive for the BMDCS contract. If we had waited until last Friday to file our request we would not recieve a response until well after the contractors had already stolen off with the money and taken their usual egregious profits from the public coffers. Their executives would be buying their next Maseratis before we had a chance to take action!

Luckily, we started watching years ago and filed that FOIA request early in 2007. We now know that the money available to contractor for the BMDCS is approximately ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!1! If that doesn't light a fire under the feet of those already getting burned by the Department of the TDC, what does?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At least the sea bass are ill tempered

The rumors around Death Star Systems and their Shiva Weapon System grow more concerning every day. Would you believe that the last time they tried to deliver a Shiva weapon system it arrived a year late? Upon it's first deployment, the laser system aiming software reversed its ENU coordinates causing the high energy beam to focus on a nearby tree. Imagine if the tree was a school! Imagine if the school had bunnies in it! Horrible is right.

Of course this situation begs the question as to whether or not the contractors are ready to handle the practically inevitable debacle of working with Death Star Systems. How could they possibly compensate for DSS mismanagement when we've already seen in the past that the 3 contractors can barely keep their own systems on time and on schedule?

Its a shame the contracting officer for the DTDC and one of the higher-ups at Death Star Systems went through the same leadership development program together. That essentially means the contractors' hands are tied due to another no-bid contract put in place by the secret society that seems to run shop over there. Does anyone have some good news?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Awful one and one for awful

Ok folks, you're going to want to sit down for this one. We have our first details on the trio of contractors that are participating in the BMDCS competition.

As expected the 3 bidders are all relatively large companies with some history building combat systems. Apparently they all had a hand in the development of SHIELD. I'm sure they're all ready to tout their history building combat systems like that makes them qualified. Keep in mind Russia also has a history building communism, America has a history of building democracy on foreign soil, and Microsoft has a history of building operating systems. I have a cousin with a history of cooking chestnuts after Christmas dinner, and every year he ends up with burnt thumbs.

Experience is not to be confused with competence.

In this case we have 3 companies each with their own special trait that makes them woefully unqualified to deliver on this contract. For example, you have one company that couldn't engineer an Radar if they had Skolnik himself on the team. There's another company that thinks they know System design but are in for a rude awakening if they don't correct their reputation. The third musketeer essentially learned all the lessons of "The Mythical Man Month" the hard way and delivered disappointing Mission Software.

All this information comes straight from our source very close to the Department of the TDC. It concerns me knowing that I may have such a close connection to such an evil establishment, but if that's the sacrifice I must make, so be it.

The Truth can be Adjusted

Great news fellow watchdogs! Today we received an anonymous tip indicating the Department of the TDC made a deal with Death Star Systems (DSS). Per the agreement, DSS will provide the laser system for the upcoming BMDCS proposal.

First, let's bring you up to speed on Death Star Systems. Founded in the late 60s by current CEO, M. Clayton, the company makes it's money by provided death dealing lasers to anyone with low enough morals and deep enough pockets to deserve one. Northrop and Raytheon partnered to create a similar system, Talon, which you can see here.

Their latest line of products, Baseline Shiva, is currently in play for the upcoming DTDC proposal. Apparently the contractors will have a choice between two weapon systems and will have to figure out for themselves which one fits the bill. And what bill is that? That's right, the bill to all of us tax payers for another costly, ineffective combat system.

Until next time, keeping watching.

Monday, April 6, 2009

See Silver Sink

As the Department of the TDC spins its wheels in silence preparing for the proposal, let us turn our attention today to SeaSilver, one of the current competitors for the Interceptor Vessel proposal.

Founded who-knows-when by who-cares-who, this company currently works to perform the ol' square-peg-round-hole song and dance to sell DHS a boat will meet their needs for protecting coastal waters. What they're not talking about is how their ability to meet the requirement is severely undermined by their boat's gas-guzzling dual-engine design.

How do I know about this potentially flawed design? Don't worry about what Helios knows. The question we need to answer is how Sea Silver is going to meet the prop specs with a faulty design. Sounds like they're taking tips from the DTDC playbook!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You can kill the Revolutionary, but you can't kill the Revolution!

Bad News. The Department of the TDC, despite our best efforts, continues to bring havic, pain, and misery to the Department of Defense. I had hoped our efforts last year would have stifled their continued attempts to rob our government coffers of much needed funds. Alas our cries fell upon deaf ears, and I was forced into hiding until the heat died down (and yeah, no thanks to any of you for missing the message I hid the bold letters below).

I stood in the shadows as they awarded the BMDCS contract to Synercomm for what seemed like completely arbitrary reasons. I watched as the program fell into disarray and our taxpayer money went up in smoke. However, it almost appeared the BMDCS would be the last harrah for the Department of the TDC.

Appearances can be deceiving.

As I warned you last year they once again lifted SADIST from the grave. They called it a different name, Ship Enterprise Layered Defense, but SHIELD or SADIST means the same thing to me. I gasped in horror as they expanded the scope and tightened the deadlines. The DTDC all but crushed the poor company of Sabre Solutions in its tyrannical grasp.

However, it took more than scope creep, tenuous requirements, and the trojan stimulator horse to bring down the hearts and minds of Sabre. It is because of their noble work to rise up against the Department of the TDC that I felt compelled to once again stand up and take the reigns of the DTDC Watchdog. The program ended in December, and I held off for the right time to strike.

Now is that time.

Almost a year to the day the DTDC once again plans to compete the BMDCS after gross overruns and a Nunn-McCurdy investigation into SynerComm. This year they tout a "Back to Basics" approach. They claim that over the years the Battlefield Mortar Defense Radar grew in scope to the point of absurdity. They believe in a more effective system that focuses on the core tenents of a proposal. They say they want clear win plans, dynamic discriminators, and they're only going to focus on best value at the lowest cost.

If time taught us anything it is that when it comes to the Department of the TDC you must see them walk the walk before you listen to them talk the talk. With only 13 days to go before the release of the RFP, they better get walking!

Here we go again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To be the future

Hello, today I write to tell you that a DTDC representative visited last night and I decided I'm all wrong.
Everyone needs to know the great accomplishments of the DTDC.
Leveraging the best technologies, providing the perfect solution, and matching their customers expectations are only a few of the ways they provide the best value solutions.
Probably because of my ignorance, I questioned their ability to execute.

Maybe someday I'll realize the error of my ways.
Exactly because of that mistake, and no other, I'm going offline for the time being, but thank you so much for playing along!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Department of the TDC, your time is almost up!

Dear readers,

Welcome to the inaugural post of the Department of the TDC Watchdog group. After years of shady dealings, wasted government funds, and underhanded contractor dealings, we are finally taking our stand to protect the America we know and love.

What prompts this blog? Without mentioning the past years of fruitless contracts, appeals to special interest groups, and woefully abysmal contract peformance, we will focus soley on their most recent betrayal of the taxpayers. This project could have only come from the seediest corner of the institution, namely Sector 7. As if the Department could fool us by making a reference to one of the greatest movies ever. We're talking about the aptly named Project SADIST.

The Small Scale Air Defense Interactive Simulation Trainer is a waste of nearly a half a million dollars. Why? Well, DTDC originally had the noble goal of hiring the company MS99 to construct an EDM they can use to perform trade studies. As it turns out after all of MS99's hard work the DTDC accidentally lost the thumb drive that contained their deliverable. They're now talking about extending the original scope, hiring another small company of approximately 25 employees, and doing the entire exercise over again.

Have you ever heard of a greater waste of time? We here at DTDC Watchdog surely have not. At least not until now. It appears that the Department of the TDC is now going to release an RFP for some kind of mortar shooter.

Given DTDC's background we are certain that nothing good will come of this proposal. So stay tuned to this website for continued news, inside scoops, and project details that will reveal the truth behind the Department of the TDC and it's contractors once and for all!