How to stop failures of major custom software procurements.

When government pays companies to build big custom software programs for them, they succeed just 13% of the time. Here is why failure is so common, and about the simple change that turns those outcomes on their head. Major government software projects fail because government has learned, over many years, to do exactly the wrong …

Term-limiting your organization can be a gift to future you.

For just a great many mission-based organizations, there is some point in time at which it should have accomplished its mission. If it’s done that, then it should stop. And if it hasn’t accomplished its mission by then, it should still stop, because it’s apparently not able to get the job done. The landscape is littered with zombie non-profits that exist to …

Request for Awesome.

I was lucky enough to spend last week at the Aspen Institute, attending the annual Forum on Communications and Society. Thirty-odd of us spent four days talking about how to make government more open and more innovative. The guest list will leave reasonable people wondering how I got invited—Madeline Albright, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (the President …

My new job and its effect on my blogging.

I started a job with the White House about two and a half weeks ago. (For you federal government geeks, it’s via an assignment from the GSA, which in turn is via an IPA from UVA.) The plan is to take the train up to D.C. once a week, and work in Charlottesville for the …

WSJ joins in questioning Goldman Sachs guns story.

Last week I called out Bloomberg’s Alice Schroeder for a bullshit story about Goldman Sachs executives being “armed to the teeth.” Today the Wall Street Journal joins in. They asked the NYPD who confirmed that it’s just not true. A grand total of four Goldman Sachs employees have pistol permits. One is a security guard. …

Chris Anderson’s Free contains what is apparently plagiarized text.

Over on VQR I wrote: In the course of reading Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Hyperion, $26.99), for a review in an upcoming issue of VQR, we have discovered almost a dozen passages that are reproduced nearly verbatim from uncredited sources. These instances were identified after a cursory investigation, …

Podcast: My interview with photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson.

I interviewed photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson about the stunning rate of suicide among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. It averages about 700 each month. More soldiers have died by their own hand after returning home than in country. Ash wrote “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce” for the current issue of VQR, the story of one 23-year-old …

“The weight of war on telephone lines is heavier every day.”

I ran across this WWII-era Bell Telephone ad in a 1942 issue of VQR and thought it was worth sharing. See also these 1953 Bell Telephone ads, two of which are delightfully offensive. My favorite is the one that encourages people to use telephone numbers when calling somebody; I had to puzzle that one through.

Murat Williams’ 1966 forecast of Virginia politics today.

I recently stumbled across an article from the Spring 1966 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review, Murat W. Williams’ “Virginia Politics: Winds of Change.” The author—a Rhodes scholar, WWII veteran, and U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador—argues that Virginia’s conservatism (fiscal and otherwise) cannot hold in the face of the changing demographics of the state. Williams’ prescience …