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Comment Contracts and Negotiation (Score 1) 322

I realize it may seem like Microsoft has the IRS over a barrel, but keep in mind that the US Government does have a bit of negotiating power on prices due to its sheer size and the common use of large comprehensive contracts. I'm sure they aren't paying the average price for support.

Analysts noted earlier this year that Microsoft had dramatically raised prices for Custom Support, which previously had been capped at $200,000 per customer for the first year. Instead, Microsoft negotiates each contract separately, asking for an average of $200 per PC for the first year of Custom Support.

Emphasis mine.

So they are paying $30 million to migrate to Windows 7. According to the article they have 58,000 PCs left to upgrade. That's $517.24 per machine. Licenses for Windows 7 Ultimate and Pro seem to be between $150 and $200 a pop on GSA Advantage. Throw in some CALs, software assurance, or other essential software, and it is probably leaving less than the $200 per machine average for the Custom Support.

Should they have dragged their feet this long to upgrade? Of course not. But I wonder if something set them back.

Comment Re:It's Called "Blame Pay" (Score 1) 382

If you worked for the United States Federal Government and were paying into FERS, the Federal Employees Retirement System, or CSRS (the old system) and only have 1.5 years of creditable service then you are not eligible for payments from EITHER. You have to have 5 years of creditable service just to be eligible. See: and look under the heading Deferred Retirement for FERS and under the heading Optional for CSRS. I'm going to assume we aren't talking about CSRS though, because that was eliminated for all new employees hired after 1987.

Good news though! Unless you got a payout of your retirement contributions you can always go back and work for the Feds for another 3.5 years to qualify. With 5 years of service at age 62 you could very well get the $320 a month payment you mention.

Generally speaking, the FERS payment follows this formula:
(1% * (AVERAGE(your highest 3 yearly salaries)) * Years of Creditable Service)

So for example, if you become well paid GS-12 employee for 3.5 years in the Washington DC area (I'll assume step 1, 2, and 3) (Ref:, then when you turn age 62 you would be eligible and receive . . .

(1% * ((74872 + 77368 + 79864)/3)) * 5 = $3868.40 per year ... roughly $322 a month.

Now, your personal retirement situation may be entirely different, but I'd go call your previous HR department and validate whether or not you are currently eligible, because unless you didn't state a key fact in your post that changes the situation, I do not believe you currently are.

Comment Re:Unrelated, but ... (Score 4, Informative) 218

From the filing:

On December 23, 2009, as amended on January 19, 2010, pursuant to section 205 of the Federal Power Act,3 Google Energy filed an initial application for market-based rate authority with an accompanying tariff providing for the sale of energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates.

(Issued February 18, 2010)
1. In this order, the Commission grants market-based rate authorization to Google Energy LLC (Google Energy), effective February 23, 2010, as requested.

I'd say it was about 57 days.

Comment Emergency Review (Score 1) 211

I'd say the only real fishy thing about it is that they are asking for emergency processing in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.13. The Federal Register listing doesn't say why though. I wonder which one of these was their problem:

(i) Public harm is reasonably likely to result if normal clearance procedures are followed;

(ii) An unanticipated event has occurred; or

(iii) The use of normal clearance procedures is reasonably likely to prevent or disrupt the collection of information or is reasonably likely to cause a statutory or court ordered deadline to be missed.

Did someone miss a deadline or did something unexpected happen?

Link if you are interested:

Other than that I don't think anything horrifically fishy is going on. The whole reason InfraGard is a bit opaque has to do with what authorized it in the first place, PDD 63.


To save you the reading time, here's are 2 goals I lifted out:

* Seeks the voluntary participation of private industry to meet common goals for protecting our critical systems through public-private partnerships;

* Protects privacy rights and seeks to utilize market forces. It is meant to strengthen and protect the nation's economic power, not to stifle it.

Sometimes you have to do things behind closed doors to get all the players to the table. Security through obscurity? Maybe.

If you really want to learn more about PDD 63, I suggest you read this:


Comment Re:issues? really? (Score 1) 111

When it comes to selecting individuals for political appointments, quite often they are done for... well... political reasons. Sometimes it's because of bipartisanship, coalition building, or because someone is really well qualified. Other times it is because they are well networked or engaged in a little quid pro quo. Sure, if it is to the level of Blagojevich they may get caught, and we should discourage the outright sale of governmental positions. On the other hand, I still think as long as he was working within the rules, a total of $2450 in donations to Mark Warner isn't quite to the level where I'd be calling the ethics committee.

It certainly didn't hurt his chances to make $2750 in donations to various Obama supporting groups either, but do I think it was a primary reason he was selected? Not really. I think he got selected because he's well connected and has prior experience in healthcare. With Obama's big push for electronic healthcare records and other cost savings measures, I do agree all the more with wanting some questions to be raised concerning the theft of pharmaceutical records in VA, but depending how the investigation goes, I believe the highest uphill it will get in the org chain is to this guy. More likely though, it'll stay a problem of the agency that oversaw the day to day operations.

Comment issues? really? (Score 5, Informative) 111

God forbid someone in the VA-MD-DC area belongs to a group used for professional networking! As we all know, most non-profit professional groups have no sponsors whatsoever.

Also, who's to say he's not qualified to do the job just because of being labeled not a technologist back in 2005? Maybe what is needed for a CTO position is someone who understands how government and policy is applied (see MPP degree reference) to solve problems, and how the application of technology is a key factor?

I do agree, though, some questions about the Prescription Monitoring Program would be warranted.

But really, with the tax problems of other appointees, maybe most of this stuff is seen as small potatoes. If you don't agree, though, feel free to contact someone on the committee. The hearing starts on Tuesday.

Comment Re:Hard evidence (Score 2, Informative) 271

I think many people forget that Lincoln was a politician. Politicians by nature try to build the largest coalition possible to enable them to win in an election. At the same time one has to remember during the Lincoln-Douglas debate:

1) Douglas explicitly stated, "I am opposed to taking any step that recognizes the Negro man or the Indian as the equal of the white man."
2) Lincoln did express some white supremacist ideas during the debates because he was campaigning in Southern Illinois, but compared with Douglas he was by far more on the side of equality.
3) I cannot state this better than the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me:
Lincoln's ideas about race were more complicated than Douglas's, however. The day after Douglas declared for white supremacy in Chicago, saying the issues were "distinctly drawn," Lincoln replied and indeed drew the issue distinctly:
I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it--where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why does not another say it does not mean some other man? If that Declaration is not ... true, let us tear it out! [Cries of "no, no!"] Let us stick to it then, let us stand firmly by it then.

Those hardly sound like the words of someone who wasn't having some deep thoughts about equality, but I agree he didn't vigorously proclaim it explicitly from the mountaintop while campaigning for President the first time. His ideas on race grew during his Presidency, and this is one of the great reasons he was such a good President.

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