This morning’s piece by Michael Neibauer in the Business Journal pores over the report to the Council on OCTO, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer for the District. OCTO is a wide-reaching organization that handle’s the city’s IT infrastructure in both the schools and in the DC Government. The report suggests that a high reliance (50-70% of the department!) on contracting organizations to do the work has lead to fraud and abuse being built into the culture, including awarding of contracts to local businesses that are underprepared to do the work. According to Neibauer, OCTO agrees with much of the findings and has said that most of the recommended remedies are already in place or soon to be in place.
The report also contains allegations that the local businesses that are not certified to sell certain solutions to the District are using gray market solutions for District offices, meaning that they’re selling solutions they cannot necessarily support. Working in the technology field, I’m not sure that I buy the hullaballoo over the grey market solutions. Some vendors make it extraordinarily difficult to join their partner programs, or require such high premiums on the businesses that unless you’re going to sell a large number of the very expensive devices, it doesn’t make sense to join. So yes, this happens all the time in the technology field, but it doesn’t mean that the vendors are incompetent, merely that they don’t want to pay for either a certification or for a partner program that will cost them money instead of making them money.
Full Disclosure: my business has one client that interacts with OCTO for technology support, but I do not speak for my business or my clients in this case.