Behind the Northrop Grumman, VITA Scandals


he continuing woes of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency and the state’s $2.4 billion IT contract with Northrop Grumman raise questions about some particularly “Virginian” conceits. One has to do with the state’s self consciousness about being a “tech” state and its propensity for privatizing public operations.

Northrop Grumman has been accused of cost overruns, delays and sloppy service with the 10-year contract it won in 2005 under Gov. Mark Warner to take the state’s antiquated computer system and turn into something that is “state of the art.”
VITA was created in 2002 to oversee state IT work and it, too, has been racked by controversy. Its programs were hacked in April and a few weeks ago, its chief, Lemuel Stewart was cashiered for allegedly questioning the high costs of the Northrup Grumman contract. Now it appears that Northrup Grumman is at least six months late in its work upgrading state computers.
Legislative watchdogs are starting to bark. This is bad news for outgoing Gov,. Tim Kaine, who is doing double duty as head of the Democratic National Committee still basking in the honeymoon glow of the Obama election.
First, some perspective about the players:
  • Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumann is a major defense contractor with a huge footprint in Virginia. It operates many offices in Northern Virginia that serve the Pentagon and other federal agencies. Northoup Grumman is a specialist in federal IT and defense IT work. What’s more, it owns Newport News Shipbuilding, one of the largest employers in the state and the only shipyard in the nation that can build and service surface nuclear-powered vessels such as Nimitz class aircraft carriers and the next generation.
  • U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who let the Northrop Grumman contract as governor, is a rising Democtratic star who cut his teeth on IT and related ventures. Back in the 1980s, Warner, not long out of Harvard Law, built a fortune estimated at the time of $400 million by brokering deals among nascent cell phone companies. The Federal Communications Commission had held auctions for band with needed for cellphones but the auctions sold off radio waves haphazardly. Ever the entrepreneur, Warner worked out private swaps among companies wanting to put togther cell networks in specific markets, thus earning himself a rep as a tech savvy guy.
  • Tim Kaine, Warner’s Democratic successor, has also positioned himself as a business-friendly, tech savvy politician.
  • The Republicans, notably former Gov. Jim Gilmore, first rode the tech wave back in the 1990s when the World Wide Web was exploding on the scene and NOVA became home to America Online, other Net-based firms and many telecoms. In 1998, Gilmore introduced the concept of the Secretary of Technology, the first ever in the U.S. Then, and now, half of the U.S. Intenet traffic still passes through NOVA. A lot of the telecoms and Net firms, however, went bust around 2001.

Add it all up, and you have a state that is eager, maybe too eager, to be known as tech savvy. It’s as if a pale wallflower at a dance suddenly becomes almost as hot as Miss Cool Bay Area or Brainy Miss Boston. That’s a lot better rep than Massive Resistance or trying not to let the Confederate Generals on Monument Avenue in Richmond get soiled by an Arthur Ashe memorial.

Another factor dates from the Jim Gilmore/George Allen years. Back then, when tech was hot, the economy was expanding and Bill Clinton was slipping from Bimbo to Bimbo, there came a neocon idea that privatizing the public sector was worthy and wonderful. Starting back in the Reagan-Thatcher years, the concept assumed that the free market was the best way to control costs efficiently and unleash creativity. Thus, private firms should be hired to run state functions, such as highways or IT functions.
Although the ideas were hatched with the GOP, privatization and public-private partnerships were embraced by business-friendly Dems such as Mark Warner and Kaine. So, when Mark W. wanted to show his tech-savviness and pointed to antiquated, underfunded state IT systems, the obvious solution was to turn them over to the private sector, which in this case, was one of the state’s biggest and most politically powerful employers.
Well, ahem, it hasn’t worked out that well, as the scandals with Northrop Grumman and VITA show. Maybe private business isn’t all that more competent than plodding old government bureaucracies. There’s plenty of evidence against the private sector, given its record leading up to the worst recession since the Great Depression. Arrogance, hubris and aggravating, short-term thinking come to mind.
Maybe it’s time for Virginia to move on from this style of thinking that is stuck the nineties. The venture capital and IPO days are really so very yesterday. And isn’t the Net just a more advanced telephone system and not a god unto itself? How about some good old-fashioned service and keeping your word and upholding your end of a deal?
Peter Galuszka

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58 responses to “Behind the Northrop Grumman, VITA Scandals”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Does anyone really care that state agencies are extremely unhappy with the service they get, they are unable to pay since the VITA fees are double what they paid historically, they are six months later with their milestone deliverable, or that state agenceies are less secure and have no control of their infrastructure. The NG contributions to both parties have been great!!!!!

  2. Joseph Avatar


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  3. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Peter, Good piece. You raise good questions. But you need to provide a little more context. The reason that the Warner administration wanted to privatize the state's IT operations was that the old system was so antiquated and inefficient. It was fragmented, starved for capital, highly uneven in quality, and extremely insecure.

    That doesn't excuse Northrup Grumman for cost overruns or for running behind schedule. What that means is that the state has to hold the company accountable for meeting the terms agreed to it the contract. That's why you have contracts. It's called doing business.

    The real question to ask is this: Is Virginia state government better off having VITA and having outsourced its IT operations? Do we have a better system now than if we had continued down the same path, or tried to reform the old system within the framework of how the state does business?

    The answer depends in large measure on how much value you place on the fact that that the system we have in place today is far more secure, much better protected against cataclysmic failure, than the old system. Because security and redundancy are a lot of what we as taxpayers are paying for.

  4. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Jim Bacon,
    Good comments. You raise some good points. But you don't provide context or much extra information that raises the level of your argument.
    For example, you say that "the reason that the Warner administration wanted to privatize the state's IT operations was that the old system was so antiquated and inefficient. It was fragmented, starved for capital, highly uneven in quality, and extremely insecure."
    Well, isn't that what we have now? There are still inefficiences. The system still seems extremely insecure since it was badly hacked in April.
    Can you provide any new information that says what Northrup Grumman has done? This would be much more useful than just asking more questions, that, frankly, are rather obvious.
    You also don't address my key point which is that privatization, at least in this case, doesn't also work as advocates say.

    Peter Galuszka

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Whether the system is internally operated or provided by vendors, there needs to be supervision and monitoring of performance. Government generally does a crappy job of watching itself. That does not have to be. There's more to contracts than signing them. They need to be managed. And there's no reason why that basic skill cannot be developed.

    If state or local government could do this, we'd all be a lot better off.


  6. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    One more thing. You state that Virginia's IT was hopelessly fragmented and out of date. That begs the question: how did it get that way? Did no spending, no-tax conservatives in the General Assembly starve the system? Could it be that you get what you pay for? Think cheap. Be cheap.
    Peter Galuszka

  7. Groveton Avatar

    I am very happy to see some commentary targeted at the myth of Mark Warner. Mark Warner is neither a technologist nor an entrepreneur. He is a clever paper pusher who exploited an idiotic spectrum auction during the Reagan Administration. Were Warner's actions legal? Yes. Were they ethical? Yes (in the context that the feds blew the process and allowed the exploitation not Warner). Were Warner's actions technically innovative? Not in any way. However, Warner's shameless and endless self-promotion includes misrepresenting history on a continuous basis. Was he the "education governor"? No. did he keep his campaign pledge not to raise taxes? No. Did he ensure that the additional taxes were spent on education as he claimed once he reversed himself on the "no take hike" pledge? No. Did he dream up some crooked scheme with Northrup? I don't know – maybe.

    But, for all his evil, Warner hasn't been governor in quite a while. There has been plenty of time to address the Nothrup – VITA contract since Warner left Richmond.

    Where has Kaine been on this?

    Where was our vaunted Secretary of Transportation – Aneesh Chopra (now CTO of the US)? Has he even been replaced since leaving for Washington?

    Where was our self-proclaimed tough guy of an Attorney General through all this?

    Where has the General Assembly been on this? Why isn't Creigh Deeds screaming bloody murder about this?

    And you gusy wonder why I supported Terry McAuliffe. I supported him because he wasn't one of the confederacy of dunces who can't seem to get much of anything right. In my mind, his greatest claim to fame was that he has never held elected office in Virginia.

    Virginia spends plenty of money on state government. More than enough money to properly manage a mid-sized outsourcing contract from a competent vendor.

    But the sheep have bleated. And now we have yet another election between two people who have been part and parcel of all of these problems. They will run another "median strip" campaign replete with hollow, superficial promises to "make transportation my top priority".

    I have my problems with some of President Obama's policies. But I give him full credit for saying, "things have to change" and then going about the task of making those changes.

    When will we in Virginia realize that we need an Obama – type leader at the state level? I don't really care if it's a Republican agent of change or a Democratic agent of change. As long as the leader is an agent of change. It looks to me like we'll be waiting at least another four years. Neither McDonnell nor Deeds are anything but more of the status quo in Virginia. That's really too bad. Just continuing with failed policies until they become full blown crises is a poor philosophy of government. Just ask California.

  8. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    Very well put on all points!!

    OK except "Where was our vaunted Secretary of Transportation – Aneesh Chopra"

    That is another dunce, Chopra as Sec of Technology, right?


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Agent of change. Virginia is a good old boy state (with not a minuscule number of good old girls either). Real estate developers, government contractors, truckers, teachers unions are some of the key beneficiaries of this power structure.

    It's probably unrealistic to expect any Governor to turn the power structure around immediately. But how can you be an agent of change unless you are willing to upset the apple cart?

    Of the Governors I've observed, Doug Wilder and George Allen seemed to be the most willing to push against the tide. Wilder refused to raise taxes during a budget crisis, and Allen pushed through a number of major changes. I'm not arguing that both men were superstars. But they each made a real impact.

    Gilmore talked a good game (and, as a resident of Fairfax County, I still loved cutting the car tax — less Fairfax County tax dollars to redistribute to the rest of VA). But Gilmore never otherwise challenged the status quo and permitted way too much spending. I thought Groveton accurately described Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

    I met and talked with Terry McAuliffe. I liked some of the things he said, but he still didn't challenge the good old boys. I told him that, if really wanted to win NoVA, he should follow Kaine's aborted attempt to stop runaway development by proposing an adequate public facilities law. We'll never know whether I was right, but TM was certainly not.

    I suspect Groveton is probably right about McDonnell and Deeds. Are they willing to take on the trucking industry or even the Tysons Corner landowners?


  10. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    While I am signed on…

    Those who are also frustrated by the squenchy column you get when you click 'comments' to read comments on a post can just click 'Links to the Post' and get the old format with wider column and the whole post to refer back to.

    THEN if you KNOW you want to comment just click 'comment' at the bottom of that column.


    (EMR is chief technology officer at SYNERGY.)

  11. Groveton Avatar


    You are right. My brain was thinking Technology but my fingers were typing Transportation. Good catch.


    You have the right idea with Wilder and Allen. Very different men with very different political views – they both tried to change the game in Virginia.

    I've been all over the world for the last two months but I have some time off from work – starting yesterday (about 10 days). I look forward to catching up on "back issues" of Bacons Rebellions and other Virginia political blogs.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Speaking of corruption and lack of ethical standards, check out the story in Poltico.

    Can the WaPo ever have credibility again?


  13. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    You are right about the apple cart.

    But once it is tipped over, one must know how to set it back up and in which direction it should go.

    Your two candidates:

    Doug Wilder: MAY have has some ideas about direction but he kept stumbling over his ego and never made any real progress in any direction.

    Geo Allen had NO idea period. He thought Disney's America was a good idea in Haymarket. When they took a hard look at it, even Disney
    decided it was a bad idea.

    And speaking of bad ideas: How about Fairfax bringing back the Car Tax. Think how much better off we would all be if they had raised the gas tax and shifted the car tax to a weight distance tax!

    As we all know, the car tax never really went away, it was all smoke and mirrors.

    Then you ask: "Can the WaPo ever have credibility again?"

    Of course they can. You just have to understand that MainStream Media has abandoned the Fourth Estate and is now a key player in the Second Estate.

    They are saying just what they need to be a credible memeber of the Second Estate.



  14. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    Listening to all of this. Is Virginia much different than many other states on this whole range of issues ?

    Don't developers and real estate folks – across the USA do what they do in Fairfax and Virginia?

    Ditto with politicians ad Governors ?

    what's the theme here?

    Chap Peterson, I think, the only Va General Assembly legislator to have his own blog has a good item worth reading with respect to governance :

    Bonus Question: Chap Peterson, being a politician and all that rot….

    since ya'll are focused on "personalities"….

    is Chap the kind of politician that we would like to have more of in Richmond?

    EMR – I especially would like to hear your "take" on CP's thoughts on Fairfax County becoming a "city".

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    I've talked with Chap Petersen on a number of occasions. On the whole, he seems like a decent person trying to do his best. But he also caved to Tim Kaine on the overhead rail line for Tysons. He originally took a stand for rejecting the overhead line, but after pressure from the Governor's office, Chap caved and signed a "build rail at any cost" letter. So Chap seems better than most, but probably not quite exactly what we need.

    Another subject, Larry and Ray. I just posted an article from the Financial Times on the Weathering the Recession item where we've discussed speculators. The article discusses the conclusion that the recent run-up in oil prices is due to a rogue speculator. Speculators are, indeed, financial maggots.


  16. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    where posted TMT?

    Well.. according to Donald Trump.. OPEC thinks we are dumber than dogdoo for thinking the speculators are at fault rather than OPECs strategic cartel actions.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry –

    I suspect the Donald has been one of the speculators!


  18. Groveton Avatar

    As many of you you know – I am no fan of the General Assembly. In fact, I'd like to see the whole institution dry up and blow away. But like the unmitigated misery unleashed when Pandora's box was opened – there may be a single ray of light in the GA. That ray is Chap Petersen. Not only does he take the time to stay in meaningful conversation with his constituents, he is also that rarest of cat – an "honest to God" middle of the road guy. A Democrat, he is also a hunter and supporter of gun rights. A NoVA Democrat, he is also a born again Christian and devout follower of the risen lord. Is he a DINO? A Democrat in Name Only? Hardly. He supports Gov. Kaine in most matters, he has been a long time supporter for Creigh Deeds as our next governor and he thinks the tool roads are the only way to get construction funds to NoVA.

    My friends, he is that strangest of all Virginia political beasts … an independent. A man who thinks with his own mind and makes his own decisions. He's 40 years old. He'll be 44 at the time of the next governor's election. Hmmmm….. Then, 48 after his one (consecutive) term as governor. A year later maybe a 6 year term a US Senator? That's 54. Maybe another tour in the Senate, that's 60. What a perfect age to run for President.

    Chap hates when I write these things. Sometimes, I get an e-mail saying that the future doesn't look as clear to him as it does to me. "Yes Sir, Mr. President" is all I can reply.

    Petersen is a star. Watch him rise.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton – Chap caved on Dulles rail under pressure from Tim Kaine. Supervisor John Foust has not caved despite incredible pressure.

    Chap also caved to Mark Warner on increasing state taxes even when then Delegate Petersen felt that the bill provided too little return for Fairfax County schools.

    Again, I think Chap Petersen is one of the better legislators, but he still caves under pressure. He's not ready for Profiles in Courage, Book II.

    There's a difference between compromise (which we need in government) and caving (which we don't need).

    I don't agree with either on all issues, but I'll take John Foust and Pat Herrity any day of the week.


  20. Groveton Avatar


    For the record, I don't always agree with Sen. Petersen. See my comment in his recent blog article:

    I just think the guy is bright, honest and middle-of-the-road.

  21. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Larry commented:

    EMR – I especially would like to hear your "take" on CP's thoughts on Fairfax County becoming a "city".

    Here are some quick thoughts:

    I recall two or three attempts to change the status of Fairfax Coutny, including at least one to City status.

    Since Cities are 'independent' and not in any County, the Towns would have to be disolved or you would still have swiss cheese. The City of Fairfax City would also be a status question mark.

    If one protects the turf of existing Governace Practitioners, there would be little real change. Also, per Groveton's view, the GA likes the system the way it is — they have control without responsibility.

    When EMR was involved in Fairfax politics we found anything that the Chamber, the LWV and the Federation all backed went through the GA without a hitch — e.g. the bond authority for building roadways.

    In other words, there is no current differnece between City and County that could not be 'fixed' if there was a concensus on the need to change.


    Fairfax County includes all or part of nine Beta Communities.

    If one is to go to the trouble of making a change, make a change that is worth the effort.


  22. Groveton Avatar

    I think Fairfax needs a two part evolution. First, the county needs city status to partly throw off the yoke of GA oppression. Then, the new city/county needs to recognize even more granular decision making areas – the existing supervisory districts are close but would have to be adjusted. Then, there would need to be referenda at the local level. At first, the referenda could be advisory. However, after the process was refined the advisories would become binding.

    To all the hacks in the GA – The government that governs closest to the people governs best. So, why doesn't this happen in VA? I have begun to see the GA as "Useful Idiots" – the old Soviet term for Westerners with sympathies for the Soviet Union. I believe that many members of the GA have been lured into service with the belief that they are preserving the staunchly democratic legacy of the Old Dominion. Instead, these "useful idiots", through their poorly paid, thinly supported, part time status are really empowering the institutional puppet masters behind the scenes. These puppet masters like the illogically centralized, hobby horse organization known as the General Assembly.

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton – While I don't see the Dillon Rule as a key factor in why things don't always work well, your point on localism is quite valid from one interesting perspective.

    Virginia is a good old boy state and it's much easier to maintain that environment when authority is vested at state or regional levels than when its done locally.

    I recently attended the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority's "love-in for density." One speaker was from Long Island and was promoting some big projects. He complained that too many local government units were getting in the way of these projects and the massive benefits they would provide to the residents — lower real estate taxes, jobs for young people and a reduced carbon footprint.

    There is an effort to dissolve many local government units in favor of bigger regional governments that would be easier to lobby.

    Similarly, a few years ago, Bill Lecos urged the Fairfax County board to make more seats at large because local supervisors were too focused on their constituents, rather than the big picture.

    I'm not arguing that all density is wrong or that the bigger picture needs to be considered. But most of us want our elected officials to work for our interests and let other officials work for their constituents' interests. Compromise is fine; selling out isn't, IMO.


  24. Rtwng Extrmst Avatar
    Rtwng Extrmst

    You know if you really want to be taken seriously about such an article, you might start out by spelling the name of the organization you are trying to write about properly. It's "Northrop" not "Northrup". BTW I'm not sure I see any scandals here. While I'm not familiar with the details of the VITA management, I've yet to hear about any "scandals". I do have experience with working in IT programs witht he government however, and I've found the best ones tend to be when the government provides clearly defined goals and objectives and then gets out fo the way of industry. Whenever the gov't continues to micromanage, there tends to eb over-runs and lack of good service.

  25. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    re: Northrop, scandal and IT transformation.


    The problem was/is that when computers came along – many organizations treated them as fancy/smancy typwriters, word-processors….

    then the internet came along and the word "IT" was invented and each little "fiefdom" staunchly maintained that "their" computers and computer-system was up to them – their call and that that little word "interoperability" was someone else's responsibility.

    So.. it was not so much that the State's computing systems were "outmoded"… indeed.. many had the latest and greatest technology but they ran them in incredibly dumb ways ranging from bad/dysfunctional/NO security to adopting Word Perfect while other State Agencies were using MS Word and they were not exactly compatible.

    Even using the same brand but different versions would result in an email with a MS Word attachment from the latest greatest version – that no one else with older versions could read.

    Anyhow, long story short – the State, like Fed Agencies (like the Navy with NMCI) got themselves a consultant/contractor to go forth and get all these pieces and parts standardized and secure …..and interoperable..

    only problem is, each of these little fiefdoms will fight the effort, tooth and nail… guerrilla-style where they are "officially" on-board with the effort while engaged in furious backroom machinations to slowdown/subvert the conversion.

    Then.. they start talking about the "waste" .. and the "scandals" associated with the effort…

    .. and VOILA – the every-hungry journalists take up the story….

    .. problem is .. your average journalist is way, way out of their league when reporting on these kinds of issues….

    .. salacious for the average joe reading just another story about government incompetence and waste….

    all I can say.. is imagine how a company like WalMart would fare – if they let each store manager decide what kind of technology they would be using…

    that's what was/is going on with State Govt.

    and the contractor/consultant get's the blame.

    don't get wrong.. there's plenty of blame to go around ..the contractors.. invariably try to find ways to "plus" the contract … being the profit-making "capitalistic" critters they are.

  26. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    re: Fairfax – the "City"

    there is "movement" in the GA on these issues….

    The scurrilous HR3202… beget concepts (almost EMR-like in intent)… UDAs – Urban Development Areas… UTSDs – Urban Service Transportation Districts….

    VDOT got Access management and the duty to review major land-use proposals to validate transportation impacts…

    and now… there is a General Assembly commission looking into possibly doing away with proffers and replacing them with state-sanctioned impact fees .. HORRORs… would this be some nefarious end-run at Adequate Public Facilities?

    I agree with Groveton's ruminations about referenda.

    In the end, If I had to choose between some of the craziness inherent is California's approach and our home-brewed "good old boy" network in Virginia… for pure .. keeping those guys in Richmond – including the lobby-types more honest.. I'll take the wild-card citizen-initiated referenda path.

    this deal about voting them out after 4 years does not allow us to "undo" some of their stupidness …

    we need them to know that their actions – can be undone… just by getting several thousand signatures and getting it on the next ballot…

  27. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Right wing extremist,
    Don't need the put down.Piss off.
    Peter Galuszka

  28. Rabbit Avatar

    As a state employee at an agency with a mid-sized IT shop, I can attest what the Commonwealth's IT pros have known for some time now: the VITA/NG "partnership" is Virginia's Halliburton.

    I am not opposed to using economic theory to spur creativity and efficiency. I am opposed to so called "public-private partnerships" that are created by the bed partners in large bureaucracies that are fed by relationships between overpaid, well connected bigwigs.

    If we were truly using free market principles to improve Virginia's IT infrastructure, then the VITA/NG partnership would be competing with other service providers rather than operating on a mandate. In that scenario, agencies like mine would only utilize Partnership services when efficiencies were realized.

    When has a monopoly ever sparked innovation and efficiency? Why do all of these "public-private" deals brokered with huge "we do everything" firms, rather than getting services a la carte from the most qualified purveyors? Why are we always surprised to learn things like (unresearched by me, but very plausible comments from the T-D article here):

    1) Len Pomata, former honcho at Litton PRC who sold his business and made a load of change, sold his company to which contractor involved in this mess? None other than Northrop Grumman.

    2) Pomata, who made mucho contributions to fortify Gov. Gilmore gets appointed to the GMU board and sat on the pay-as-you-go Northern Virginia Technology Council’s board.

    3) Which Secretary of Technology switched making contributions to the GOP to filling the coffers of Mark “The Technology Governor” Warner and slides onto the IT Investment Board as a result? Sweet Len, of course!

    4) Who sat on the IT Investment Board, which oversees VITA, while the NG contract is being mismanaged – none other than our Lenny boy!

    My agency did not have the greatest hardware before VITA/NG, and there are certainly employees here who are underqualified or inefficient. However, when our people did our work we had a great deal of accountability. Where is the accountability when we call a help desk in remote Lebanon, VA? Why are we leasing a printer for $200 per month that we used to purchase for less? Why has our service degraded? My agency's IT Director is now wholly consumed in dealings with VITA, and we had to create a new management position to make sure his internal duties could get done.

    This is not about saving taxpayer dollars, and it never was. That was only the pitch. Politicians in both parties are to blame, and the current finger-pointing fiasco is not going to change a damn thing.

  29. Larry G Avatar
    Larry G

    my experience – agencies and many of the folks who work there – do not care about networking, compatibility of disparate software and operating systems, security patches, or security in general.

    One might fault the State in hiring the "wrong" company to do the integration or one might fault any number of failing of any state-level organization tasked with trying to integrate … and configuration manage – the state "system" of computers…

    and some of these efforts turn out bad… even the good ones have lots of issues because often a particular group will claim that their way of doing business justifies a unique setup… preferably to be left alone to do it themselves.

    and this is how systems get hacked into… or they lose massive amounts of data (time and money) or they have a system that is essentially held together with bubble-gum and toothpicks.. just waiting for the least excuse to go belly-up for days or weeks.

    letting individual agencies and their untrained folks "do" their own computers is not much different than letting drivers (because they drive) tinker with the stop lights IMHO.

    But I'll also agree that many large computer consultant companies are.. in the business of making money.. and if they can get away with charging $200 per printer, they will …

    but only to remind … a printer not connect to a computer or a network is pretty worthless .. and what you're paying for is not the printer – but the configuration and integration of it to the office systems, plus the consumables.

    there's two sides to the issue, I can assure….

  30. Anonymous Avatar

    " I am opposed to so called "public-private partnerships" that are created by the bed partners in large bureaucracies that are fed by relationships between overpaid, well connected bigwigs."

    Well said. Our public private road partnerships will turn out the same way. there is no economic benefit to them that won't be taken out of the pocets of Virginians, mostly.


  31. Rabbit Avatar

    Oh Larry, I was singing the same song when VITA began the IT transformation. It makes great sense to consolidate commonly used services to a single provider, to combine the purchasing power of all agencies into one entity, to leap over aging techno-structure in a single bound… but that is not what is happening.

    That printer, which used to be purchased from the most reasonable of several direct shippers for under $200 and supported by a tech on our staff, is now leased for a monthly charge roughly equivalent to the whole purchase price. All support is initiated by a phone call to Lebanon, VA, where a trouble ticket for the printer will be routed and rerouted until it (sometimes) reaches the person who has the knowledge to understand the problem. This person is usually not on site, so they have to coordinate an on site visit. Sometimes the tickets get lost, sometimes the technicians get lost, sometimes they arrive and are unqualified or do not have what they need to do their job.

    The printers are just one example, I could give many more with regard to all areas of IT infrastructure and service. My group once requisitioned server hardware required for upgrades, and found out months later that our paperwork had gotten lost in the Partnership shuffle. Our director had to personally visit Secretary of Technology Chopra in order to force the Partnership to unravel the paper trail. In the end, we waited about a year for our request to be fulfilled, many times longer than our previous process would have taken.

    Any road, we pay that bill. People like Len Pomata will do a great job of pretending to care, while quietly lining the pockets of their cohorts with ill-gotten gains.

    I work with some sharp and dedicated people from VITA as well as Northrop Grumman, but the betrayal of public trust starts at the top of the ladder. There is barely any transparency in the process, so how do we judge the Partnership in terms of success or failure? Looking at the qualifications of the key players, I would say these guys are very intelligent and capable. The best I can guess is that whatever plan they hatched in 2002 is working. They have successfully funneled hundreds of millions of public dollars exactly where they intended, the corporate and political capital is flowing accordingly, and some players are very happy with the outcome of this game.

    I am a convert to the cynical side on this issue. I can see how the Commonwealth's IT infrastructure could be provided more efficiently and cost effectively, but that is not what we have in VITA/NG. The slow progress of IT transformation, the high cost and poor quality of service, and the "fog of war" hiding the billing process are indicative of the rot at the core of our Commonwealth's effort to consolidate IT.

    As Ronald Reagan said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

  32. Anonymous Avatar

    MY problem is i worked for northrop grumman in lebanon va/ Untill a short time ago/ one of biggest problems is management/ No one knows whats going on at northrop grumman/ 2 Is that vita doesnt really get along with northrop grumman never has never will/ 3 The building its self is a mess nothing works in it half the time. 4 Northrop grumman is having people their training and most of them are already looking for jobs/ elswere 5 600 people is there goal/ they will do good to ever get 300 at facility. From northrop grumman security coordinator to other bosses in building all these people can do is write and e mail behind each others back on workers or contractors/ Which now has a lot of watchdog groups watching ever move these people make// And then you have trouble getting contractors to come back to building and work on things because they have to wait for five six or seven months just to get paid.And last but not the least in ten years norhtrop grumman will try and rob the state of a heak of a lot of money just to break even with the money they will loose at this site// from former worker//

  33. Anonymous Avatar

    I visit northrop grumman in lebanon va/ Im from chester va/ have family lives in southwest va/ Every time i go threw door at northrop grumman to do work in data room/ I see all these persons that work their completly at a loss when it comes to getting problems solved at this building/ From security all the way to the Guy who is the building supervisor of maintenance/ Vita workers get tired of even visiting this building/ Even the group that actually owns building called copt i beleived is their name/ Have had some heated arguments at times with northrop grumman over money/

  34. Anonymous Avatar

    On northrop grumman in lebanon va/ THey are things you should know/ one is that no one is watching another company that has signed a contract with northrop grumman and is getting filthy rich for doing nothing/THe name is johnson controls/ They send this guy from chester va every time to fix portal entrance to data room/ and to fix security cameras they sold northrop grumman for a unbeleaveable amount of money but both only work for a few months at a time this guy comes in to building / takes look at problems takes his special friend the security coordinator to lunch for a few hours/ doesnt fix problems/ leaves and charges northrop grumman any were from 2000 to 5000 for doing nothing/ ONe time he had to charge extra because he hit a deer on his way to facility/ What a waste of money the tax payers will end paying northrop grumman/

  35. Anonymous Avatar

    So lets get this straight vita fires one of its on in management/ Because he told northrop grumman they were doing terrible job in lebanon va/ and had not met their deadlines/ so he held some money from them untill they got problem fixed/Thats the american folks get the job done right or dont get paid. But lets all fill soory for good old northrop grumman even thoetheir not holding up to their bargin in soutwest va/ I guess we should all dig deeper in tax payers pockets .And give northrop grumman another 2 billion dollars just to make them happy/ What a joke He Gov caine you really blew this one//

  36. Anonymous Avatar

    Hey dont forget chester northrop grumman/ i know people that work here / thats having same problems/ With management and security coordinator/ this place was a money racket to// I asked vita workers about northrop in lebanon Va/ They all say a complete failure/I think it time for investigation to start on northrop grumman/ and maybe our beloved gov/ Tim kaine/

  37. Anonymous Avatar

    What i know for a fact is in southwest va/ The turn over of workers at northrop grumman is starting to take hold some now. Lets face the fact in lebanon va/ If a lot of workers start quitting. Were will you get new workers/ Their short handed now/ and no one in this area is knocking down the door their to ask for a job/ especialy with all the government watchdog groups now watching all of management and security coordinator at this site//

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    IM a contractor ive been in chester va northrop grumman/ and lebanon va northrop grumman/ Ive seen better organization/ AT a 7/11 store at the first of each month when the wine-o/s line up to spend all thier money on cheap wine/ Plus when you go in these two northrop grummans/ now days you look out in parking lot to see who is setting in that plain black car watching ever move you make//

  39. Anonymous Avatar

    Now as of today/ i understand northrop grumman/ has contacted our gov/ kaine/ and told him they are not getting fair deal with vita/ Did the people in va get a fair deal on this 2 billion dollar disaster/ IN southwest Va// And it still amazes me no one knows how much money has been spent on equipment and building its self/ One person i talked to at northrop grumman/ said the total cost could end up about 490 million// Total failure/ gov/ kaine/ come clean soon/ Tax payer//

  40. Anonymous Avatar

    Ive have just left northrop grumman in lebanon va/ What is so great about this place / its really nothing moore than a call center for a number va state agencies/ the data center never works correctly/ so no one really cares about it any moore/ the management here always tries to keep people quite about this place/ nothing to keep quite about this place will plainly tell you when you start work here nothing about about this call center is classifide/ but yet security coordinator at lebanon va/ site is always trying to write her special reports on workers. any moore just another call center/ most persons here are looking for work somewere else// Northrop grumman what a joke

  41. Anonymous Avatar

    I talk to workers at northrop grumman ever day/ at lebanon va/ They all have come to conclusion/ this company has a lot of problems in a lot of areas/ They all tell me they know the plug at this site. Is half way out of wall and soon will be pulled by vita/ and northrop grumman/ Lets all look foward to what comes next at this site. And what ever happens/ please lets all keep MR Kaine/ and northrop grumman/ out of this counties next move toward bringing a better company here to work for//

  42. Anonymous Avatar

    Wow, this anonymous guy that wrote the last 10 posts sounds like a disgruntled ex-employee to me! Did ya get canned buddy?

  43. Anonymous Avatar

    ITs interesting to read last comment/ saying person that wrote last comments must have got fired from northrop grumman in lebanon Va/When all this comes out in open in next 8 months/ I think this person/ is going to be very surprized of how many of these comments/ has come within this company//

  44. Anonymous Avatar

    FRom vita/ Vita has a lot of problems that needs corrected i agree/ But this deal with northrop grumman in soutwest VA. Has become a no win situation for both sides/ You have vita that has had management changes. Now northrop grumman knows that they are about to get thierselfves in a lot of troubles over lies they have covered up over last two years. About problems that needed to be fixed at lebanon va site before it ever opened. And the watch dog groups are now starting to investigate northrop grumman/ gov kaine/ and the private security company that has contract at lebanon va site/ The tax payers of virginia need to be very aware of this problem/

  45. Anonymous Avatar

    Why are all these watchdog groups all watching northrop grumman In lebanon Va/ Something here is fishy/ To many people are getting ready to look for work elsewere. No contractor want to return to building/ want say why/ Pinkerton security officers asking to many question about workers in help desk area that are looking for work elewere. Something bad wrong here//

  46. Anonymous Avatar

    Lates news vita northrop grumman lebanon va/From vita to northrop grumman/ no moore money to give you from tax payers/ for job not finished/ Tax payers respond in local newpapers soutwest va/ WE the tax payers will be at different sites in soutwest va collecting another 2.3 billion dollars for poor old northrop grumman/ because their fillings have been hurt/ so if tax payers would please donate all their tax money to lebanon va facility we would appreceiate it/ if not northrop grumman will threatend va tax payers by saying they will shut this facility down/ Northrop grumman what a joke// tax payer

  47. Anonymous Avatar

    You mean northrop grumman has security in lebanon va/ The only time i have ever seen security at this site is when it first opened. I do see the northrop grumman security coordinator/ at local mexican resturant daily with some contractors/ drinking mexican liquor/ drunk as a skunk/ i usually just use my badge when it works/ walk through door go straight to daty room/ I dont think that they have security anymoore./ vita worker//

  48. Anonymous Avatar

    Vita/ contractor/ Just arrived at lebanon northrop grumman this week/ Just leaving today 12-4-09 12pm/ This facility looks like ghost town/ No wonder no progress is being made at this northrop grumman/ data room looks bad today/ help desk area in other part of building/ looks to be deserted/ Havent seen security anywere today/ Well at least have family to visit in next county/

  49. Anonymous Avatar

    Today just started reading articles on this site/ Very enjoyable site/ I work for northrop grumman in chester/ visiting northrop grumman in lebanon va today/ I do agree a lot of problems at this site/ some problems is poor security/ some is management/ looks like some is builing itsself building needs work badly// concerned worker//

  50. As of today northrop grumman telling workers if they dont receive another 40 million by june they will have to lay some workers off. in lebanon va/ how long will the state put mooney in this black hole/ this facility everyone knows will not be here after ten years thats a fact.

  51. Anonymous Avatar

    well new gov/ might give northrop grumman / vita/ deal moore money. I guess the teachers in state getting the ax/ state workers getting ax/ even could cut state police in near future/ just to give the babies at northrop grumman in soutwest va 50 moore million dollars/ I do no something for sure- fox news- and cnn are gearing to blow this money racket. Out of the water/ so gov i voted for you but your about to get your behind in a lot of hot water over this mess- this mess has been under the watchfull eye of a lot of power people over last two years.

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    I understand from workers at northrop grumman in lebanon and and chester va.That fox news and cnn for sure is about to publish their report on this mess between vita northrop grumman. Va gov your being watched very close dont blow this mees with moore money to northrop grumman im serious you just dont know how many important people watching this diaster.

  53. Anonymous Avatar

    Hey i understand pinkerton security in hampton va/ is in a lot of trouble over the mess at lebanon va site/ dealing with latest reports on a reporter they have made up some on him richmond times dispatch/ over his investigating of problems with vita/ northrop grumman/ To many news companies are now watching this diaster in lebanon va//

  54. Anonymous Avatar

    Hey ever sense new contract with northrop grumman vita deal/ I understand fox news and cnn have been ask by many people in va. To investigate into this contract. Does any one else know about why Lt gov wants to talk to pinkerton guards that use to work. At chester va and lebanon va over some false reports. Please reply.

  55. Anonymous Avatar

    For a company like northrop grumman who just got a new contract with vita.Despite poor performance in chester va site lebanon va site.You would think the company would be happy.But i visit both sites in va hear lately. And all workers at both sites tell me that the contract is so strict on northrop grumman. That one missed dead line by northrop grumman in next few years and vita is going to raise pure hell on them. If so does this not mean nothing has really been solved by either side in this new contract. Gov of va its time you get some back bone and stand your groung on northrop grumman.FED- up republican tax of va.

  56. Anonymous Avatar

    The problem with the VITA- Northrop Grumman IT debacle is not necessarily the WHY, WHO or the WHAT. The State's IT infrastructure did need upgrading and having private companies perform the upgrade makes a lot of sense (let's face it, how many are happy with VDOT's ability to address road issues?).

    The problem is the HOW. To me there are a lot of red flags that I can identify with this contract. A 5-year $9,000 lease for laptops is just an example. I'm not saying that this is theft, but I should would like to know (a) The make. model and specs of these laptops. (b) What additional software comes with them. and (c) The type of support that are included (if any).

    I hope that these guys are smart enough to actual do a line-item audit on this contract just to see if there is too much "fluff" hidden within it.

  57. Anonymous Avatar

    northrop grumman vita mistake.I have friends that work for dmv.I know they have went through proper channels over last week. to tell govenor of va that dmv has had thier damn stomach full of northrop grummans crap over last year. and he better man up and do somthing over this mess .And soon.

  58. […] after Chopra left Richmond for D.C., it was discovered that Northrop Grumman was at least six-months behind on its contract to upgrade the state […]

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