Does HP have the Navy hostage?
This morning Wired's website had posted an article (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/hp-holds-navy-network-hostage/) describing the history between the Navy and HP. The assertion is that HP, a corporate entity, has the Navy hostage by virtue of ownership of the Navy's military networks. While the argument is convincing enough, there are those who might argue that such things are better left to organizations who specialize in networking infrastructures like HP. Should government agencies build and maintain their own networks and have their own support staff to do so? Or should government agencies outsource these kinds of operations and minimize their own involvement in network maintenance and operations? What do you think?
Within the last 10 years all branches of the military have been outsourcing their technical people because of turn over rate. The military trains people up and has them for 3-4 years before that person realizes they can make more in the private sector. It takes a few years to bring someone up to speed on what's going on, plus all the security clearances required (Top Secret) to work on any kind of infrastructure within the military. Gaining Top Secret clearance in itself is worth a couple tens of thousands of dollars in the Metro DC area.
A well paid civilian contractor will know more and do more than a trained professional in the military. In a lot of cases, that military person leaves and goes to work for the civilian company like Lockheed Martin and continues the same job.
The turn over rate in the military is too high with skilled and technical people. The military has intentionally transistioned over to a contractor-based infrastructure.
While I do not generally disagree with your observations, the different military branches (in this case the Navy) want the exact opposite of what you described. There are career military personnel and there are a lot of folks who stay on longer than 3-4 years. I do not know what turnover rate is and I would be willing to bet you are right about making more in the private sector. However, wouldn't a privately managed network be much more secure than one which is outsourced? When I say more secure, I refer not to security in the terms we normally do but rather to keeping access to information to the military only.
If you read the wired article I referenced above, it is noted that the military had to pay HP just to look at network diagrams. This seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars to me and something to which they should have free access to. Perhaps there ought to be better controls in place to prevent such issues and perhaps the military could offer more competitive pay to keep good people within the ranks?