No more ‘army of one’ with Big Data accountability revolution | #MITIQ

091013-A-7540H-016At this week’s MIT CDOIQ Symposium, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, you wouldn’t have been faulted for recognizing that two industries that have embraced the Big Data revolution are healthcare and the financial sector. The benefits of employing analytics models to these fields are more and more apparent. You might be surprised, however, to learn of one particular public sector player that is seeking an operational advantage via Big Data: the Department of Defense.

Mort Anvari, Director of Programs and Strategy within the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army’s Cost and Economics division, has overseen the creation and implementation of directives aimed at the cost culture and cost management of the US Army.

“Private industry is easier because everyone is cost conscious,” Anvari explains. “In government, particularly during a war, that mission is driving everything. Most of our officers are only concerned with how much money they need and how they spend it.” Anvari admits that his task of directing commanders to accede to a cost culture mindset was a pretty big deal. “We had to look at it from the people’s perspective. That includes convincing leadership that attention to cost doesn’t create a bad image for the country.” The main argument centered on the perception that being cost conscious could appear to be putting our servicemembers unnecessarily into greater harm’s way.


Surviving the Culture Clash

Anvari claims an early success with the education of commanders and other officers that paying special attention to cost and soldier safety were not mutually exclusive. “You can be cost conscious. You can do more with your resources. You can be more efficient with it and still care about safety and care about the soldiers.”

With projects budgeted above $10 million, an automatic cost/benefit analysis is enacted. Anvari oversees more than 2,000 Army analysts who perform and validate each of these. Knowing the process, commanders will typically consider an additional course of action to what they submit for review. “Talking to commanders and leadership, we ask ‘What is your information need?’,” he stated. “Based on that, we develop a data need for that organization.”

Similar to challenges faced in the private sector, one of the issues overcome by the Army was convincing certain organizations that possessed data to share that property with other organizations. “Communicating the data need from organization A to organization B, telling organization B you need to provide this data that is not for you, it’s for someone else,” Anvari said, “that was a big culture shock.”

However, in explaining the funding structure for the military like an upside down tree, Anvari was able to bring an understanding that all funding came from the top and spread out to all of the “branches” within the Army. “We call it fund centers. They have all the money. The cost centers are the ones using this money. It could be them or it could be others. It’s truly like a neural network of information.”

Unlike private sector companies, the Army realized they had to streamline their budgeting and allocation process due to the fact they are subjected to strict oversight by the Congress. As all of the funding is taxpayer monies, citizens are also privy to the budgeting process through the use of Freedom of Information Act requests.

As noted above, the cost-benefit analysis process is automatic on projects in excess of $10 million. However, Anvari notes that projects under that threshold, undertaken by commanders of smaller outfits, are pretty well self-monitored because those commanders want to show that they are capable of critically applying the new cost culture analysis in the hopes they will be promoted to heading up larger projects in the future.

“Accountability is hard to swallow,” says Anvari, with regard to the early push back from Army leadership, “no matter how normalized the process is.” Anvari’s work is seeing results, however. “Cost management is on its feet and working,” he concluded.

(Originally published at

photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc

Drag Queen Singing Contest Winner Blamed For Killer Floods In Serbia, Bosnia And Croatia (VIDEO)

ESC2014_winner's_press_conference_11_(crop)Our American exceptionalism does not, it turns out, hold a monopoly on creepy and crazy religious zealots that try to assign divine reach to natural and man-made disasters. Giving our top evangelists a run for their money is an Eastern European contender who claims he alone knows the cause for last month’s horrible flooding in the region. Let’s be clear: groups that actively seek to bring harm to others are not guided by God. They act because they are unwilling or unable to recognize the humanity in those they attack. Weather events are not guided by the hand of God. They are natural phenomena that follow natural laws.

So sure, the late-Jerry Falwell’s assertion that 9/11 was visited upon us because God was mad at the abortionists, idolaters, adulterers, ACLU, gays and others for trying to make America a secular nation seemed a special brand of crazy.

And then just four short years later, Columbia Christians for Life channeled their inner Courtney Love to read the satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina. Their email stated:

The image of the hurricane, with its eye already ashore at 12:32 p.m., Monday, August 29, looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb in the early weeks of gestation (approximately 6 weeks).

The five health clinics that provided safe and legal abortion to the women of New Orleans were, according to the group, most definitely in God’s crosshairs with the killer storm.

Why stop there? About a year after the storm, Pastor John Hagee claimed Katrina roared ashore and took more than 1,800 lives because New Orleans allowed Gay Pride Parades and events to take place. Yeah… that seems sensible.

But why should American clergy have all the fun? That might be why Serbian Orthodox cleric Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro has taken to blaming the recent spate of flooding that killed as many as 50 and displaced another 150,000 on Mr. Tom Neuwirth of Austria.

Eurovision 2014 Winning Song: Rise Like A Phoenix

Mr. Neuwirth, whom you might better recognize as Conchita Wurst, the bearded drag act that took home top honors at this year’s Eurovision contest, should be viewed as a canary in a coal mine, the eastern European zealot explains. He states:

This is not a coincidence, but a warning. God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side.

Conchita Wurst now joins a long and distinguished list of patsies the blow hard religious leaders can trot out to try and explain actions and events they are unable to understand on any scientific or human level.

photo credit: Conchita Wurst –

(Originally published at

Sarah Palin Is Fighting Back In Lawsuit Over 9/11 Image She Used To Raise Political Donations

2866666534_5c1238e50f_zSarah Palin seems to suffer from “hyper-political projection”. She continually takes to Fox Noise,, Facebook and any other willing outlet to rail against all forms of illegality she claims are perpetrated by President Barack Obama. The tactic has served her well throughout her political career, first ousting a fellow commissioner on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after she alleged ethical violations committed by state Republican Party chair Randy Ruedrich.

Palin’s half-term as Governor for the great state of Alaska was, itself, marred by blatant ethics violations, not the least of which was ‘Troopergate’ where Palin and her administration lobbied for the firing of Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten, it should be noted, also happened to be the ex-brother-in-law of Governor Palin who was involved in a contentious custody dispute with the governor’s sister. The release of the Branchflower Investigative Report, endorsed by the Alaska statehouse, showed Palin to be in clear violation of the state’s ethics laws, though this didn’t stop Palin from spinning the findings to mean something completely different and untrue when she stated, “I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that.” Oh, Sarah, if only wishing made it true.

We’ve all heard her highness lay allegations of outright tyranny, governing by fiat, lawless execution and whatever other Republican base buzzwords that side can come up with to tar and feather our current president. Just yesterday, Palin’s Facebook page offered the outlandish but predictable screed attacking the Kenyan Muslim of breaking the law when he traded five Guantanamo detainees, (this number is as high as 70, depending on how far right you go for your news) for POW Bowe Bergdahl. Lobbing attacks from the discredited sideline upon which she sits will likely not do anything but to gin up the rabid Republican base. This doesn’t stop Palin from becoming apoplectic at the thought that someone broke the law and we can’t let them get away with it. Unless of course the lawbreaker is Palin herself.

In September of 2013, the North Jersey Media Group filed a lawsuit against Mrs. Palin and her political action committee for copyright infringement. Palin and her PAC exploited an iconic image from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that showed NYFD Firefighters raising an American flag over the still smouldering Ground Zero. Having not sought permission for use of the image and certainly enjoying financial benefit for its use, the North Jersey Media Group’s claim is seeking unspecified damages.

Fighting the case all along, Palin lost a bid to have the case moved from the Manhattan Federal Court, where it was filed, to an Alaskan Federal Court or dismissed altogether. Now, her legal defense team has taken the offensive (both tactical and literal) position of thumbing their nose at the media group’s claim stating, “The Amended Complaint was not only filed in the wrong place, the Southern District of New York — it should never have been filed at all,” according to a May 13 court filing.

Palin further contends that neither she nor her minions ever sought out the image and that it was, in fact, generated automatically to her websites thanks to a widget app they use.

So we return to the notion of political projection. Mama Grizzly throws unfounded allegation after unfounded allegation at the administration responsible for handing her the most embarrassing defeat of her political career all while she is being made to stand in court on real, true and ultimately provable grounds of law breaking. Though Palin will likely only have to pay a fine for the actions of her PAC and herself, the irony is truly satisfying.

photo credit: Flicker – Llyn Hunter

(Originally published at