Tracy Kerchkof

1. The Paperwork Reduction Act. Any feedback survey I want to send out to non-fed users of applications have to go through OMB. Even if they are registered users of my application. The process takes a month in the best case scenario. So, I can deploy an app, but I can’t get feedback on it unless someone takes the time to find my email info and email me.

2. Hosting our own data centers: While hosting data centers may be appropriate for agencies, or parts of agencies, that have sensitive information, the stuff I have hosted at our agency data center could be hosted anywhere. Hosting that stuff ourselves, where we can’t afford the most qualified people, and we can’t move as fast as the technology does, holds us back tremendously. For example, Lots of new media software, like Mediawiki and WordPress, require servers that support PHP and MySQL. Our data center had to completely set up a new server for this reason, and figure out how to run it before we could use either technology. And, because we don’t have the capacity to properly run this server and update the software on it, we are using unsupported, out of date versions of both softwares. Why? There are certified hosts for this software! How many other agencies are going through the EXACT SAME EXERCISE? Why are we wasting time reinventing the wheel? (This is where I see GSA’s citizen.apps.gov being really valuable)

3. The overall culture of obstruction & secrecy. I’m finding out that frequently the designated agency contacts are just plain giving me wrong information, and trying to talk to them is impossible. I spend so much of my time investigating what I’m told because I can’t get an answer from the designated contacts. I used to think this was because they didn’t know the answer, and while this is definitely the case sometimes, I’m finding more and more that the contacts do know the answer, but they just won’t tell me…either because “it’s not their job” or they don’t want me to misinterpret what they say cause they’ve been burned on a similar question. I’m not sure how to deal with this.

These are just the few on the top of my head, I look forward to seeing more from others, or getting some advice.