Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor








Scheduling apps meet need

I basically agree with David Jackson's review of Microsoft Project 98, Milestones Etc. 5.0 and FastTrack Schedule 6.0 [GCN, July 5, Page 23].

However, his discussion at the beginning should also be part of the conclusion: These three applications meet different people's needs.

My PC, for example, has Microsoft Project on it for full-blown project-detailing and resource-leveling'and because it's our corporate standard.

But it also has Milestones Etc. on it for the quick-and-dirty, one-page project overviews needed for meetings and presentations for which Project takes too long. FastTrack Schedule is somewhere in between.

Buy what you need. Project's true competition comes from other full-featured, and often expensive, applications, such as Project Planner from Primavera Systems Inc. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Project Scheduler 7 from Scitor Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., Project Workbench from ABT Corp. of New York, Dekker Trakker from Dekker Ltd. of San Bernardino, Calif., Account4 from Work Management Solutions Inc. of Newton, Mass., Realtime from Advanced Management Solutions Inc. of Redlands, Calif., and Open Plan from WST Corp. of Houston.

Milestones Etc.'s competition comes more from the basic scheduling modules found in the applications of the office suites from Microsoft Corp., Corel Corp. and Lotus Development Corp. and from fundamental project schedule display software available as free downloads from Internet sites.

Jim Sklenar

Director, independent verification and validation operations

Adminastar Federal Inc.

Baltimore

Task order description is off base

I read Joseph Petrillo's column, 'Congress issues a warning on task order contracts' [GCN, July 5, Page 20], with great interest.

When I was with the government, I chaired the Information Technology Acquisition Review Board that addressed these kinds of issues and brought about several of the provisions in the Information Technology Management Reform Act.

I would offer a different view than the one Petrillo expresses. In the past, many government agencies'the Defense Department included'because of the difficult and convoluted procurement process, would generally issue enormous statements of work covering many years on requirements not well understood. They did this in hopes of having to navigate the two- or three-year procurement protest process only once.

As a result, they rarely procured exactly what they needed. On the review board, we encouraged agencies to consider task order contracts instead so they could pursue work incrementally as each successive phase of a project was better understood based on the previous work. Multiple task orders are a desirable option in many instances, but single awards are also quite acceptable.

In the latter case there would be an eventual winner of a fully competed task order contract, and the government could then issue task orders'or not, if the contractor's performance was off course'in a sensible, incremental way.

This contrasted with the one big trust-us-for-five-years-and-then-we'll-deliver-something approach.

The review board believed this was a much better way of doing business and far more analogous to how our counterparts in private industry would do it.

I think that an injustice is done in describing the task orders that follow under this type of contract as sole-source.

Renny DiPentima

President, government systems

SRA International Inc.

Arlington, Va.

Editor's note: The writer was deputy commissioner for systems at the Social Security Administration.

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