Bureaucracy and Bundles

paperworkI have worked for companies that worked for the government all of my life.  When I would sit in meeting and the subjects of contracting and accounting came up, I would mostly tune out.  But even in my tuned-out state, I learned that there was a great deal of bureaucracy and red tape involve in being a government contractor.  But practically speaking, I handed in my time card on Friday mornings and got a check on Friday afternoon.  Yes, I occasionally had to listen to a presentation about special provisions of a contract and I did have to maintain a security clearance but that was about the extent of it.  When I started a small consulting firm with a colleague in 1999, we mostly subcontracted to other companies who were government contractors, which involved a bit more paperwork but it was no big deal.   Then we won a job directly from a Navy agency, so that the contract had to be conducted under the watchful eyes of the U.S. government.   The financial and contractual parts of that job were as distasteful as anything I’ve encountered in my career, and, although we made a fair amount of money, I vowed, Never again.

Recently, we won another job contracting directly to the government.  It consists of two phases … one in which the bureaucracy and red tape are bearable (just) and a second that will be like the one we endured years ago.   My business partner and I have already agreed that we will pay someone to do the contracting and finance if it goes to the second phase but we are muddling through the first phase on our own.  Part of the red tape is registering on numerous government websites that are intended to simplify the contracting and invoicing process.  These sites are not designed with two-man companies in mind – they are designed for huge corporations.  Therefore, we only use a small fraction of the sites capabilities.  However, it is pretty much our responsibility to figure out which parts we need, mostly using on line training and extensive training manuals (all, by the way, intended for giant corporations).  We’ve been spending a lot of time online, eyes glazed, brain cells anesthetized by acronyms.

Two essential tools for this process are the ability to read and fill in pdf documents, best done with Adobe Acrobat, and a good web browser … government sites prefer Internet Explorer.  Even if I’m using Firefox, Internet Explorer opens when I click certain links.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day wandering through the government cyberspace.   At some point, as I tried to open a document, Adobe Acrobat told me it needed to update.  What am I going to say, No?   A little later as I was using my mostly neglected version of Explorer, I was told I needed to install a Java update.  It didn’t tell me why, but What the hell, I said, McAfeeYes.  I was busy and didn’t have time to argue.  And when I was done, I discovered that I had a new virus scanner by McAfee and that Ask.com was my new Explorer home page.  I was a victim of bundled software, McAfee was bundled with the Adobe update and Ask.com with Java.  Yeah, if hadn’t been busy, I’d probably have been able to uncheckask a box to avoid installing these freeloaders.  But I was busy, and a long online day became longer because I had to take the time to uninstall them.  Thanks, Adobe.  Thanks, Java.  Don’t you hate bundled software?

So, that was my work day.  How was yours?

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One Comment on “Bureaucracy and Bundles”

  1. Cheryl P. Says:

    I do hate bundled software. I noticed the McAfee disclosure on the Adobe updates so I always check the box saying not to install it. However, recently my laptop was taking forever to start up. I discovered that my real estate company’s propriatary software had Micro Trend security built in. Unfortunately, it takes the administrator password to remove it. The hiccup is that because I use Norton on my computer to cover my personal stuff, it creates a big conflict that inhibits my computer from working correctly. Needless to say, it took someone smarter than me to create a override of the admin password and remove the Micro Trend.

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