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Comment Re:NGC Culture (Score 3, Informative) 168

See, government contracting works like this. You create a company, hire some folk to work on a contract. Whatever their salary is, you charge the government +50% or more, so essentially the government is not only flat out paying your salary but also the company for your services. If the contract ends, so does your job as the company may not want to charge overhead. In contrast to other business sectors, employment typically isn't grounded so harshly on the existence of a contract, which is where cost of business and business management can keep workers afloat even during down times (think department store).

I do a lot of business with both the federal gov't and private sector businesses on IT projects. You've over-simplified things to the point of painting an inaccurate picture. Federal contracting is extremely complex and there are myriad types of contracts that can be awarded, each with different terms. It sounds like what you're describing is a labor-hour contract. The contractor bills the gov't for the "fully burdened cost" of putting a warm butt in a seat. This includes the worker's salary, overhead, G&A (general & administrative), and profit. All together, it's typically a lot more than a 50% markup of the staff's straight salary.

Unlike most private sector contracts, when doing a fully burdened labor hour contract with the feds, the contractor will spell out exactly what their profit margin is. Generally this is only 6-10%, which is considerably lower than the private sector. Despite what everyone thinks, doing business with the gov't isn't all that lucrative. It's an extremely competitive market in which the bottom-line cost is almost always the most important factor. Contracting officers are even prohibited by law to give preferential treatment to companies that have previously done a great job.

I can't really comment on forced furloughs, because I'm not familiar with how Northrup operates. But just because they do "government contracts" doesn't necessarily mean they can afford to keep highly-skilled staff on the payroll until they find a new project for them. Federal contracts can really help with sales revenue because they can be large awards and the government *always* pays. However, the trade off is all the red tape (which increases G&A costs) and the low profit margins. Next time you hear about Company X getting a $10M contract, don't just roll your eyes. Get a hold of their proposal and the contract and see what their actual profit is on the contract. Both documents are public property and available upon request from the federal contracting officer that made the award. (Defense related contracts might need to be pried from gov't with a FOIA request though)

Comment Re:It's a nice framework (Score 1) 110

Python and Ruby are in no way similar, other than the fact that they're both open-source OOP languages. They have completely opposing design philosophies: Python's "one right way to do it" vs. Ruby's "give the developer enough rope to hang himself."

Comment Re:Politics aside, wtf is wrong with Google? (Score 1) 650

No. The start of the "Tea Party" occurred during the grassroots movement to get Ron Paul the '08 Republican nomination for president. It grew out of the series of "money bombs" that were organized for his campaign. Fox News then hijacked the concept after the election because it was an existing vehicle of disaffected voters. Nowadays, the "Tea Party" has no coherent platform, it's just a bunch of soundbites used to whip the throng of useful idiots into a froth. And it has no actual leadership because everyone is too busy knifing each other in the back, trying to make themselves relevant in the current power vacuum of the Republican party.

Comment Re:How is this legal? (Score 4, Interesting) 757

So you take them to small claims court, where in many jurisdictions lawyers are not permitted. Motorola will have to send a corporate officer to represent the company. A much more likely outcome is that they'll settle with you prior to the hearing. All it takes is a few people to do this, and then blog about it and/or post info on social networking sites. Suddenly, Motorola is facing hundreds of small claims suits. They're still likely to settle them all out of court for the cost of the phone, but perhaps the next time they make a phone someone in the initial design meeting says "Ya know, the fuse function really seemed to piss off a lot of people, people who are now likely buying phones from our competitors. Maybe we shouldn't take that route again."

Comment Re:Industry self-regulation in action (Score 1) 353

+5 Insightful? The world does not exist in black and white. You know those chip fabs that Intel and AMD uses to make the processor in your computer? They typically cost anywhere from $1-4 billion dollars to build. Some things simply cannot be accomplished by small businesses and require the resources of large corporations.

Police Investigating Virtual Furniture Theft 103

krou writes "Finnish police are involved in the investigation of up to 400 cases of theft from virtual world Habbo Hotel, with some users reporting the loss of up to €1000 of virtual furniture and other items. Users were targeted using a phishing scam that used fake webpages to capture usernames and passwords. There is no mention as to whether or not the thieves made off with the bath towels, gowns, shampoo bottles, and soaps."

For Non-Profits, Common Ground vs. Raiser's Edge? 97

lanimreT writes "I work at a medium-sized non-profit organization. We've been considering a switch from our current constituent relationship manager (CRM) The Raiser's Edge to Common Ground, a non-profit-focused CRM built on SalesForce. I would like to hear from other organizations that have already done this. What features are present in Raiser's Edge but missing in Common Ground? Is your workflow improved by the new software? If you had it to do over again, would you make the switch?"

Man Put On "No-Fly List" While In Air To NYC 300

An unnamed man flying from Nigeria to New York City found out he was added to a no-fly list somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, when the plane stopped to refuel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Officials won't say what he did or why he was added to the list after he had already boarded a flight. He was not immediately charged with a crime and Customs and Border Protection will only say that he is a "potential person of interest." From the article: "The man, a citizen of Gambia, was not on the no-fly list when he boarded the aircraft in Dakar, Senegal, said a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly."

Tax-Free IT Repairs Proposed For the UK 102

judgecorp writes "Removing tax from computer repairs could have a real impact on the IT industry's carbon footprint, according to a petition of the UK government. Old computer equipment often ends up in landfill, or in toxic illegal re-cycling centers in developing countries, because users think it is not cost-effective to repair it. Making repairs tax free could be a simple bit of financial engineering to encourage skilled jobs and keep electronics out of the waste stream, says the author of the campaign."

Comment Re:How this works (Score 5, Interesting) 601

I just wanted to add my two cents... A month or so ago, I filed my first FOIA request. I requested some non-sensitive statistical data from an office associated with the Dept of Defense. Despite the banality of the data I was requesting, because it was related to the military and the shear volume of it (over 10M records), I was expecting some foot dragging. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The very next day, the FOIA officer emailed me and then followed up with a phone call. She kept me apprised of the status of my request and about three weeks later, the data was FTPed to me. She even found someone to answer some questions I had about the formatting of the files.

I was fully expecting a more adversarial process considering the reputations of FOIA requests. But I learned that FOIA officers seem to care a great deal about facilitating requests. Just wanted to give kudos here where some is due.

Comment Re:blog (Score 1) 125

I once wrote a post on my blog that got frontpaged on /. and I had zero problems coping with the traffic. This was using Wordpress with the WP-Cache plugin on a modestly-powered server in a datacenter. I'm not really sure why so many people have issues (unless they aren't running WP-Cache, of course).

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