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     I was at Yearly Kos, and attended Governor Warner's sky-high bash, with strawberries, pineapple, and chicken on a stick (the shrimp weren't on sticks--they were individual fried breaded pucks). I don't drink, so the open bar held no appeal. It was a shrewd move on his part, to wow people with a real treat, seen by some as a down payment (an extravagant, old school, schmooze fest), and by others as a reward (acknowledgement of the arrival of a new force in political discourse). When confronted with an either-or choice, I usually select the both-and answer. He was of course both acknowledging us and courting more attention.

     Lost in the blog-chatter of whether Warner really "gets" the internet (and blogs, and IT) is the question of what kind of policies he'd pursue if he achieves the presidency. Would he regulate blogs, would he support net neutrality, would he create a national technology policy?
Gov. Warner's time in the statehouse provides some hints. He clearly thinks big, but can he think outside the corporatist box? I often think that big executives need big levers to pull. To the extent Warner grasps people-powered politics, he may see us as enablers of corporate efficiencies.
     Don't get me wrong. I like Warner, and he was very good for Virginia. I'm grateful he helped elect Tim Kaine, and if his strategist "Mudcat" Saunders, who is running Jim Webb's Senatorial campaign, continues to win, it's another feather in his cap. He has an eye for talent. I submit this in the spirit of anticipatory oppo research. What is really going on here?
     Early in his tenure as Governor, Warner created the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, which aimed to consolidate IT infrastructure from about 90 executive branch agencies. Some of the projected benefits were compelling. State agencies used many different email systems, and even more IT procurement protocols. Economies of scale in purchasing were being missed, and redundant and inefficient server farms were scattered throughout downtown Richmond.
     Warner installed George Newstrom, from EDS, Ross Perot's former company, Asian division, as Secretary of Technology. Newstrom's Deputy was Eugene Huang, a brilliant young technologist, marathoner, scholar, and Warner acolyte. Huang ascended to the top spot after Newstrom left for a private sector job, and stayed until new Governor Kaine appointed Aneesh Chopra (also connected to Warner's business circles).
     Over the course of several years, the justification for this state IT consolidation has shifted, and not at all subtly. In the beginning, this ambitious undertaking was billed as a way for state government to rein in spiraling costs and achieve efficiencies. In the end, the job has turned into a $2 billion contract for Northrop Grumman, a defense contractor moving into enterprise IT management, an "evergreen" business.
     The question we're left with is: were the initial estimates of cost savings wildly off the mark, and completely out of reach for a state work force, or was this always conceived as a project that would ultimately end in a giant outsourcing contract? To give this the benefit of a both-and answer, it may be that the attempt was made to achieve the transition in-house. But given the state's inability to pay top dollar for truly top talent (and this level of integration is virtually unprecedented), the writing may have been on the wall from the beginning.
     Warner was a Governor who initiated a major IT restructuring with all the populist fanfare of using home-grown talent to achieve ambitious goals, Yet it resulted in another huge government give-away to a giant corporate defense contractor.
     Where is the people power?

VITA http://www.vita.virginia.gov/
Chopra http://www.technology.virginia.gov/... http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
Huang http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
Warner and VITA http://govtech.public-cio.com/... http://www.informationweek.com/...
Northrop http://www.it.northropgrumman.com/...
EDS http://www.eds.com/...
VITA CIO http://osc.input.com/...
Newstrom http://www.cio.com/... http://www.fcw.com/...

Originally posted to Dhavo on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 07:07 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interest post dhavo, this is all new to me. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Helping to bring justice back to the White House, one indictment at a time.

    by HoundDog on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 07:19:52 PM PDT

  •  I don't get all the fuss about Mark Warner. (0+ / 0-)

    He seems O.K. but I just don't get all the fuss. Was it because he had a good party for the Kos bloggers in Las vegas? Something about him bothers me, back in 2004 campaign, he made Kerry beg for his endorsement. He wanted to be placed on the short list for V.P., that really bothered me. One of the things that bothers me so much about Biden was back in 2000 at the convention, everyone knew Gore was going to get the nomination, and Biden was lobbying for  the next Presidential nomination in 2004. That also really bothered me. I don't like people who are so taken with themselves and their position. Give me Jon Edwards any old day, a humble southern gentleman.

    •  A) Warner's smart, (0+ / 0-)

      B) he's rich, C) he left Virginia much better off than he found it, D) he's proven he can win, E) he managed to institute real financial reform in a state dominated by a Republican legislature, F) he had coat tails long enough to help Kaine, G) he hires competent (some would say brilliant) people.

      He has therefore A) shown vision, B) earned independence, C) earned gold stars, D) become a standout Democrat in the South, E) restored budgetary balance, F) earned the thanks of a grateful commonwealth, and G) shown managerial acumen.

      He can be a little cold and wooden, but he's at least in the hunt, and still learning.

      •  The only impressive virtues to me, (0+ / 0-)

        he hires competent, even brilliant people, and he left the state of Virgina better than he found it.  The rich, he can win, and coatails thing, not so impressive. But that is probably just me. I still don't like that he made Kerry beg for his endorsement, and not that he just made him beg, but he made it known to the media. Sort of like he envisioned himself as a king maker. In the White House today, we have a rich, he can win, coatails Governor, and alot of good it has done for America, or the world. I am not comparing, I imagine Mark Warner is smart, but I hate us using the same criteria as the Republicans, just get someone who can win. I think we should get someone who can win because he inspires voters. This country is badly in need of inspiration.

        •  Agree ... (0+ / 0-)

          Please check out Booman's great diary. I had much the same aim, to discuss Warner's policy choices. No one has taken that up. Above, I was trying to answer your question about "the fuss". I'm not at all fond of "electability" as a criterion. Howard Dean was inspiring at YKos. Warner, not so much. Wish Russ Feingold had been there.

          •  I wish I was there (0+ / 0-)

            I live so close, just 6 hrs away by car 1 hr.  by plane. I would have loved to be able to meet many of those who I have agreed or argued with over the past few years. I am so happy and proud, that Kos made us all get the recognition. It is all part of us taking back America. Now I feel hopeful. I almost feel as though we can have some say in choosing our next presidential nominee, and we don't have to leave it up to the old Democratic party hacks. Maybe, just maybe, Russ Fiengold has a chance.

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