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MyTake - What Kind of Website Does $9.5 Million (USD) Get You?


What Kind of Website Does $9.5 Million (USD) Get You? 
Monday, July 13, 2009, 10:49 PM - Public Policy, Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
On July 9th, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board announced the task order awarded to redesign the Recovery.gov website, creating version 2.0. So what exactly will $9.5 Million (USD) get us?

According to the government's Statement of Objectives (SOO) for Recovery.gov, here is a brief breakdown.

Included:
- Hardware for Servers
- Software for Servers
- XML Proxy
- Continuity of Operations (COOP) Site (optional)
- Documentation
- Information Assurance Protections
- Section 508 Compliance
- 24x7 Operations and Maintenance
- Security Maintenance and Patching
- Web Interface and Design (HTML)
- VPN Between Sites
- IDS/Firewall
- Web Based Reports
- Web Content Management System

NOT Included (Government Provided):
- Database Services
- Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)
- Internet Access/Bandwidth
- Facilities
- Storage Area Network (SAN)
- Power/Cooling
- Data Collection

The initial launch is proposed for August 27, 2009. Does anyone else out there think they can possibly do this for any cheaper than $9.5 Million? Anyone?!
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FairTax Response from Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) 
Friday, April 10, 2009, 5:58 PM - Public Policy, Economics, Law
Posted by Administrator
In January, I wrote a letter to my Representative, Susan Davis, in support of the FairTax and asking her to co-sponsor H.R. 25. I received her response today. While I was not expecting her to become a co-sponsor, or even support the H.R. 25 (FairTax), I am amazed at her response.

First, she defends the current tax system of over 70,000 pages and counting. Apparently her most important concerns are NOT its complexity or even how some of our presidential appointees are either not smart enough to understand the current system or are cheating it. First and foremost, she cites the need to 1) eliminate the marriage penalty and 2) increase the child tax credit. Yes, because these are the biggest problems with our tax code?

Secondly, she and her staff have apparently not read H.R. 25 and are in serious need of education on the FairTax. She claims that under a national sales tax "the vast majority of the tax burden would fall on the poor." Normally this statement is true, but NOT as implemented in H.R. 25. The FairTax calls for a prebate which means that anyone at the poverty level pays exactly $0, that is ZERO DOLLARS in federal taxes. This actually ends up being less taxes than what a person at the poverty level pays today, considering that the 7.65% payroll tax rate will be repealed as part of H.R.25.

She also claims that this would "make our goods and services prohibitively expensive" to sell in other countries. This is just plain false. The FairTax is charged at the point of sale to the consumer. Any good shipped overseas would be sold completely free of US taxes, allowing us to become an exporting powerhouse.

Please contact Susan Davis' office using one of the methods below and straighten them out about the FairTax:

Congressional Website

U.S. House of Representatives
1526 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2040
Fax: (202) 225-2948

4305 University Avenue
Suite 515
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 280-5353
Fax: (619) 280-5311

[UPDATE 04-13-2009] I also forgot to include the repeal of any income taxes at the poverty level. That could be another 10% or so more in taxes under the current system as compared to the FairTax.
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US Treasury: National Debt Hits $11 Million Millions Today 
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 6:14 PM - Public Policy
Posted by Administrator
According to the US Treasury, today the national debt hit $11 trillion for the first time in history. That is over $36,000 per person. Or 190 times Bill Gate's net worth, the richest man in the world. It averages to about $1,500 overspent every single second since this nation was founded in 1776. You can get even more details about how this math comes out in real time on my US National Debt Counter website. Ever wonder how many "bridges to nowhere" $11 trillion can buy?

So why the goofy headline of $11 million millions? I don't think the public really understands how much a trillion of anything is. Downloaded a trillion songs lately? How long is a trillion seconds? (about 32,000 years) Now how about a million seconds? 12 days. Much easier to comprehend. Now take that million and square it. And if that isn't enough for you, multiply that by 11. That's the national debt. Its really, really, really big.
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TSA Non-compliant with Congressional Mandate 
Thursday, February 12, 2009, 12:40 AM - Public Policy, Law
Posted by Administrator
In response to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request for documentation regarding the Information (Data) Quality Act, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that it doesn't even have the required administrative guidelines on how to implement such a policy. This is in violation of both the law passed by Congress and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandate.

Many, if not most federal agencies have such a policy publicly available on their websites, whereas TSA does not have one at all. And as for the report that is supposed to go to OMB every year? They haven't created one of those, ever.

Public Law 106-554, Section 515, passed in December of 2000, states that Executive Branch Agencies shall:

(A) issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency, by not later than 1 year after the date of issuance of the guidelines...

(B) establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines...

(C) report periodically to the Director--(i) the number and nature of complaints received by the agency regarding the accuracy of information disseminated by the agency; and (ii) how such complaints were handled by the agency.

As far as I can determine, TSA has never done any of these.

And an interesting note for anyone that has not tried submitting a FOIA request before, I received a letter postmarked on December 22 letting me know that my email was received on December 15. I sent the email the night of December 9. First, that means it took them nearly one week to acknowledge that they received my email. Note that this did not include processing of any kind besides giving me a tracking number. Second, this means it took them an entire week to get the letter from the FOIA office and into the mail. The entire process, from start to finish, took nearly two months, just to tell me that they did not actually have any records for me. I can't imagine how long an actual document would take to get out of them.

[UPDATE 02-22-2009] OMB Guidelines require that each agency publish their Information Quality Guidelines on their website and also a notice in the Federal Register.
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New Red Light Cameras in San Diego 
Saturday, January 24, 2009, 2:52 PM - Public Policy, Hardware, Privacy
Posted by Administrator
Since November, the city of San Diego has activated 7 red light cameras. The city's website also has descriptions of which directions are being targeted. Intersections include:

10th Avenue at "A" Street
10th Avenue at "F" Street
Aero Drive at Murphy Canyon Road
Camino Del Rio North at Mission Center Road
Camino De La Reina / Camino Del Rio North at Qualcomm Way
Clairemont Mesa Boulevard at Convoy Street
Cleveland Avenue at Washington Street
Del Mar Heights Road at El Camino Real
Grape Street at North Harbor Drive
Mira Mesa Boulevard at Scranton Road
Mission Bay Drive at Garnet Avenue
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