Editor’s Note: The following story is taken from a book-length work authored by a senior Federal IT official currently working in government. This is one part of an extensive, firsthand account of how IT decisions are made, the obstacles standing in the way of real change in government technology management, and what one career Federal IT employee really thinks about the way government does IT.

Because the author is a current government employee and is concerned about the impact this may have on their career, we’ve agreed to publish this series of weekly excerpts under the author’s chosen pseudonym—Demosthenes.

MeriTalk has agreed not to make substantive changes to any of the chapters.

— Dan Verton, Executive Editor


In the last chapter I talked a lot about buying the process instead of the product, and how to turn agile development sprints into a generic commodity. In this chapter I’m going to get into a whole bunch of additional acquisition related topics. The first point I will make is that a shot in the dark is not effective in getting the right people onto your team. This goes for both hiring people from USAJOBS as well as bringing in contractors to perform the work. You can just go and cast a net, but you may not be satisfied with what you get. I know who the good people are. When I have a vacancy I send them email messages, I hit them on LinkedIn, I give them a call. I do what I can to get them to apply. This doesn’t mean they will get the job, they still have to win in the hiring process, but I will have a good pool of people from which to choose. The same thing goes for contractors. You can cast a net out there, list it in FedBizOpps and hope that you get some good companies. Don’t leave it to chance. If you get a bunch of jacked up companies and no good ones responding to your RFP, then you are going to be severely behind schedule if you need to go back out.

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Demosthenes is a pseudonym for a senior Federal IT official.