As the Senate debates the $692.1 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), some worry that there are time bombs buried in the bill that will hurt national security and forward a left wing progressive agenda.
There is one provision in the bill that will mandate that any technology company that does business with the Pentagon will have to hand over source codes. This would make privately developed technology open source. This provision has the fingerprints of former Obama Administration officials who pushed a socialist model when it comes to intellectual property.
There are two organizations in government now that have an interest in this provision becoming law and they are loaded with left wing Obama Administration holdover employees. The two groups, 18F and the U.S. Digital Service, have allies in the Democratic Party in the Senate, including progressive darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). They have in interest in radically changing government contracting law so that these inefficient government operations can continue to operate while private sector tech companies are shown the door.
One of the groups, 18F, was created in the wake of the ObamaCare website controversy. When the rollout of ObamaCare’s insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, was a complete disaster, the group 18F was created by the Obama Administration. In March of 2014, a group of Obama Administration fellows set up shop in the General Services Administration to establish a government office to improve and modernize government technology. The name of the group reflects the address of the government office at 1800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC. They are a left-wing rogue organization who set up a quasi-government organization to avoid oversight by Congress.
The irony is that healthcare.gov failed, not because of a private sector technology failure, but because government bureaucrats sabotaged the effort through gross incompetence. The Washington Post reported on February 13, 2016 that a government investigative report found:
Federal health officials failed to recognize the enormity of the undertaking, were disorganized and fragmented, were hampered by late and shifting ACA policies, had too little money, used poor contracting practices, and ignored problems until it was too late.
Government mismanagement was the problem, yet liberals in the Obama Administration saw fit to impose more government by creating the new entity as a solution to the problem.
According to the 18F website, one of the ideologies of the organization is “Our projects are designed and built in public. That means open source, open data, and open APIs. Working transparently helps us develop faster, make better decisions, provide code for many others to reuse, and keep costs low.”
They are committed to open source and are trying to force private sector government contractors to hand over IP as a condition of working with the federal government. It is a progressive cause to take away the profit motive of our nation’s best high tech companies, and 18F is the embodiment of a socialist model of creating new technology. A model that is destined for failure.
According to a Nextgov.com report on October 24, 2016, 18F wastes half of the money that comes in the door on matters unrelated to developing and deploying new software. Despite the promise of keeping “costs low,” the report indicated that:
The General Services Administration’s 18F has experienced a net loss of $31 million between the 2014 and 2016 fiscal years, a report from GSA’s Office of the Inspector General’s Office of Inspections and Forensic Auditing. That loss is tied to “inaccurate financial projections, increased staffing levels, and the amount of staff time spent on non-billable activities.”
When a government entity does not have to worry about profit and loss, they waste money and become inefficient.
There is another liberal government operated technology effort that President Obama set up called the U.S. Digital Service (USDS). Federal News Radio reported on January 23, 2017, that source reported that USDS employees had a “negative attitude” and “there were several instances where USDS rejected requests for help from agencies.” The inefficiencies of these two organizations provide a roadmap for what would happen if technology was handed over to government bureaucrats and taken out of the hands of American technology companies that have proven to be the best in the world.
Thankfully, when this legislation passes the Senate, there will be a conference between the House and Senate to iron out differences between the two bills. The provision will likely end up being in the final version of the Senate bill, but was not in the House passed version. When the two chambers sit down and negotiate a final bill, hopefully they will seek out this hidden provision and remove it from the bill.
A Republican controlled House and Senate should not be forwarding the socialist cause of liberal Democrats in this, or any other bill, that is sent to President Trump for his signature.