Wednesday 16 October 2013
Photo, above: CGI designs the computer system for ACA/ObamaCare; continues its regrettable history of creating poorly-functioning software, behind schedule and over budget; from what appears to have been a no-bid contract. And it’s a non-US firm. See: Hour 3, Block B: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, and Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, See also: http://smartcontracting.blogspot.com/2009/07/bringing-job-growth-to-rural-virginia.html Bringing Job Growth to Rural Virginia: CGI’s Southwest Virginia Technology Center of Excellence When he was campaigning for president, candidate Barack Obama made a stop in Lebanon, Virginia to talk about creating more high technology jobs. He singled out CGI, a global information technology and business process services provider, for bringing over 300 high tech jobs to a rural area of the state
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Gordon Chang, Forbes.com
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Toshi Yoshihara, John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Naval War College and co-author of Red Star Over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy, in re: Yes, China considers waters around China to be their lakes, and sees the US as defanged; China was the hegemon at the APEC and ASEAN meetings last week when Pres Obama declined to attend. Tactic is to make advances when possible, take a break, then move forward incrementally again. Opportunistic, hard for neighbors or US to prevent. Japan has introduced a large ship into waters around Senkakus/Diaoyutai. Too little too late, or else in the long run Japan won’t be able to keep us, as China can continuously deploy naval asses in those waters. Sign of Japanese desperation?
Soviet general: "Sometimes quantity is quality" – is that relevant here? Yes.
China warns US, Japan and Australia: stay out of territorial disputes China urges three nations not to make South China Sea or East China Sea rows "more complicated" . China has cautioned the United States, Australia and Japan not to use their alliance as an excuse to intervene in territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and urged them to refrain from inflaming regional tensions. "The United States, Japan and Australia are allies but this should not become an excuse to interfere in territorial disputes, otherwise it will only make the problems more complicated and harm the interests of all parties," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on the ministry website. On Friday, US secretary of state John Kerry, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida raised the maritime disputes during a trilateral strategic dialogue in Bali, Indonesia. Relations between China and Japan have been troubled in recent years by a row over tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. In the South China Sea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and China are involved in long-standing sovereignty disputes over a potentially oil- and gas-rich island chain. A joint statement from the US-Japan-Australia meeting opposed "coercive or unilateral actions" that could change the status quo in the East China Sea and called on claimants to maritime disputes in the South China Sea to refrain from destabilising actions, according to . . . [more]
Japan sends big patrol ship to Diaoyus, by Minnie Chan minnie.chan @ scmp.com Military experts warn move increases risk of armed conflict over disputed islands The Japanese Coast Guard has sent a powerful vessel to reinforce its fleet of patrol ships near disputed islands in the East China Sea, prompting warnings that the move raises the risk of armed conflict with China. The deployment of the 3,100-tonne Okinawa is the latest by Japan in a year in which both sides have ratcheted up their maritime presence in the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkakus as they are called in Japan. The coastguard held a ceremony on Friday to send off the Okinawa, which is equipped with a heavy helicopter, to the Naha coastguard base in Okinawa prefecture, the closest Japanese city to the disputed islands, Japanese public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo news agency reported yesterday. The Okinawa was formerly named the Chikuzen, when it was stationed at the Fukuoka coastguard base in Kyushu. It once fired its machine gun on two North Korean vessels in the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in South Korea, in 1999 - the first time an armed Japanese vessel had fired on foreign ships in 46 years. "China is also increasing its activities in waters near the Diaoyus, with many powerful ships of up to 4,000 tonnes, so such competition between Beijing and Tokyo only increases the risk of conflict," Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong said. Beijing-based naval analyst Li Jie said that the Okinawa's deployment might be "part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's attempt to set up a national defence force by revising the country's pacifist constitution, and other political ambitions". "The deployment of the Okinawa to the Diaoyus is obviously targeting China, which will only raise tensions in the East China Sea," Li said. "For China, its goal of sending more patrol ships to Diaoyu waters is very simple - forcing Japan to recognise that it is a disputed area." The Okinawa was scheduled to sail out of Naha yesterday to patrol around the islands, NHK reported.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Bhuchung Tsering, Interim President for International Campaign for Tibet, in re: A precedent-breaking case in Spain. After 122 self-immolations, and Chinese opened fire on Tibetan protestors, five dead and many woundsd – clear that indictment of Chinese leaders is the only way to go forward. Sends a powerful message to Chinese leadership, ad may influence their Tibet policy as they know that the world is watching. Hu was in charge of Tibet, was ruthless and brutal, which recommended him t he is current elevated position; now is singled out n Europe as a gangster. Hu Jintao set the tone for China and for his successor, Xi. Still prefers not to be accused of the worst crime possible, genocide; clearly ash got under thin 2012, ICT provided to the Spanish courts the chain of authority of Chinese leadership responsible for Tibet. How to encourage world leaders to be more forceful in speaking to China of Tibet? Need to see each nation's opinion of its benefit, and also to focus on a judiciary that wants to take appropriate actions.
Spain probes Hu Jintao 'genocide' in Tibet court case Spain's top criminal court has decided to hear a case brought by Tibetan rights activists who allege that China's former President Hu Jintao committed genocide in Tibet.
Judges ruled that they were competent to handle the case because one of the activists, Tibetan monk Thubten Wangchen, is a Spanish citizen. Hu Jintao was the Communist Party leader in Tibet in 1988-1992, when Chinese troops quelled mass protests. China imposed martial law in Tibet. The remote mountainous territory is an autonomous region ruled by Beijing. In their lawsuit against Hu Jintao the Madrid-based Tibetan Support Committee allege that as Communist leader in the region he was ultimately responsible for actions "aimed at eliminating the uniqueness and existence of Tibet as a country, imposing martial law, carrying out forced deportations, mass sterilisation campaigns, torture of dissidents". The Spanish legal system recognises the universal justice principle, under which genocide suspects can be put on trial outside their home country. But for Spain to hold the trial there is a requirement that at least one victim of alleged genocide must be a Spanish citizen. Beijing claims a centuries-old sovereignty over Tibet, but many Tibetans remain loyal to the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. He is seen by his followers as a living god, but by China as a separatist threat. [more]
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show; & Joan Johnson-Freese , in re: NASA-China-Ames. "It's unfortunate," the NASA adm wrote to the Congressman on 8 Oct, "that potential Chinese participants were refused . . . entry to [a NASA meeting at Ames] If NASA were Charlie Brown, I’d have to say that the Congress keeps moving the football. . . . All Chinese space work is not civilian; all of it is military, and I advocate not transferring any technology to China until it begins to do pure scientific research. Alt: keep them close enough to know what they’re doing. . . . NASA would be happy just to know what the criteria are.
Nasa administrator Charles Bolden describes situation as 'unfortunate' The US space agency on Thursday vowed to reconsider the applications of Chinese scientists who were denied access to a Nasa conference on security grounds, sparking a boycott by leading American astronomers. Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said the situation was unfortunate and pledged to take a fresh look at the applications once the US government reopens. The government has been partially shut down since October 1 amid a US political crisis, sending home 97 per cent of Nasa staff without pay as well as hundreds of thousands of federal employees. It is unfortunate that potential Chinese participants were refused attendance at the upcoming Kepler Conference at the Ames Research Park, Bolden wrote in an email to Congressman Frank Wolf. Mid-level managers at Ames, in performing the due diligence they believed appropriate following a period of significant concern and scrutiny from Congress about our foreign access to Nasa facilities, meetings and websites, acted without consulting Nasa HQ (headquarters), he continued. Upon learning of this exclusion, I directed that we review the requests for attendance from scientists of Chinese origin and determine if we can recontact them immediately upon the reopening of the government to allow them to reapply Bolden said any scientists who meet the clearance requirements in place for foreign citizens will be accepted for participation. The conference is to be held November 4-8 at a Nasa facility in northern California. The applications of six Chinese scientists were denied due to what organizers said was a March this year order for a moratorium to visits to Nasa facilities by citizens of several nations including China. The basis for the ban was called into question on Tuesday by Wolf, who authored related legislation in 2011 that he said restricted space co-operation with the Chinese government and Chinese companies but not individuals. The moratorium and other additional security measures were issued earlier this year by Bolden following a potential security breach at a Nasa facility in Virginia by a Chinese citizen, and should have been lifted by now, Wolf said earlier this week. Some leading US astronomers have vowed to boycott the conference next month on the basis of the denied applications. One of them, Debra Fischer of Yale University, said that one of her post-doctoral students was among those whose application was denied. Beijing foreign ministry described the application denials as discriminatory, and said academic meetings should remain free of politics.
Nasa vows to review ban on Chinese astronomers Nasa administrator Charles Bolden describes situation as 'unfortunate' The US space agency on Thursday vowed to reconsider the applications of Chinese scientists who were denied access to a Nasa conference on security grounds, sparking a boycott by leading American astronomers. Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said the situation was unfortunate and pledged to take a fresh look at the applications once the US government reopens. The government has been partially shut down since October 1 amid a US political crisis, sending home 97 per cent of Nasa staff without pay as well as hundreds of thousands of federal employees. It is unfortunate that potential Chinese participants were refused attendance at the upcoming Kepler Conference at the Ames Research Park, Bolden wrote in an email to Congressman Frank Wolf. Mid-level managers at Ames, in performing the due diligence they believed appropriate following a period of significant concern and scrutiny from Congress about our foreign access to Nasa facilities, meetings and websites, acted without consulting Nasa HQ (headquarters), he continued. "Upon learning of this exclusion, I directed that we review the requests for attendance from scientists of Chinese origin and determine if we can recontact them immediately upon the reopening of the government to allow them to reapply." Bolden said any scientists who meet the clearance requirements in place for foreign citizens will be accepted for participation. The conference is to be held November 4-8 at a Nasa facility in northern California. The applications of six Chinese scientists were denied due to what organizers said was an order in March of this year for a moratorium to visits to Nasa facilities by citizens of several nations, including China.
The basis for the ban was called into question on Tuesday by Wolf, who authored related legislation in 2011 that he said restricted space co-operation with the Chinese government and Chinese companies but not individuals. The moratorium and other additional security measures were issued earlier this year by Bolden following a potential security breach at a Nasa facility in Virginia by a Chinese citizen, and should have been lifted by now, Wolf said earlier this week. Some leading US astronomers have vowed to boycott the conference next month on the basis of the denied applications. One of them, Debra Fischer of Yale University, said that one of her post-doctoral students was among those whose applications were denied. The Beijing foreign ministry described the application denials as discriminatory, and said academic meetings should remain free of politics.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: LADEE is safe at home – on the Moon. Went with a weak energy to save money; passed close to Moon's gravitational influence, then dropped into Moon's influence. Russian-operated US in New Mexico, leased and operated in Russia, has discovered a kilometer-wide near-Earth asteroid. Orbit is far from the Earth, but this discovery after 15 years of continual survey by NASA and others tells us that here might be others lout there as big as this lurki ng, We'd better watch out. Proposal to put telescopes in space; out current planetary defense system is not adequate. From Earth cant look some directions because of the Sun. The huge event 65 million years ago (asteroid landed in Yucatan) that changed the whole planet was 15 km. For a 1-km asteroid, 70% chance it'll land in the ocean – catastrophe. . . . Paper published on a comet . . . ISS is chasing a comet in space. Natl Center for Earth and Space Science Education: a student named Michel Boziansky in Colorado put together a 6"-long tube with a beer experiment in it to go on the ISS; annastronaut will shake it to start it going.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Fraser Howie, co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise; in re: Fraser's travels in China and report on signs of property bubbles and debt crises. China builds copies of cities – Paris, Berlin, everything, Ghost cities. Yen-Chang, 1.2 million people; number f units n sale there totals 1/3 of the homes sold in the US in 2012. No one's ever heard of this city, and there are 300 or 400 around China – all ghost cities. Beyond the bubble, there's also some demand. IS there self-awareness? Chinese know it’s heading for disaster, but in race for short-term incentives they can’t stop themselves. Leadership knows that if they stop building the whole economy will crash. It takes 40 years of salary for average Chinese person to buy a 1200-sq foot apartment. . . . In China can get some sharp corrections, but China is integrated into the world in trade but not in capital. Commodity prices will fall, Australian miners will be hurt, fewer rich Chinese will travel around the world. US economy: can produce shocks but it can rebalance. Don’t wait for a Lehmann event; it'll take a broader swath of events. China will get old before it gets rich" – have fewer defenses an old, weak and poor China. Huge gap between the ages of ten and forty – not healthy for China.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Charles Ortel, managing partner of Newport Value Partners, in re: Weibo has been talking all together too much and we’re going to [kill it]. . . .Its financials aren't very good; bad for China, may be great for American comparables. ZXi attacks US on Weibo . . . new type of political risk. Limits to growth in China. about 505 million Weibo users, 50 mill/day; a national conversation on the Internet, Chinese censors having trouble keeping up. Xi attacks people with 50 million followers in order to rein in the uncontrollable conversation. Whenever a foreigner invests in anything in China, uncertainty because of possible govt interference Have to follow it hour by hour to be reasonably safe. "regulatory capture" – in China, it’s tyranny. An executive who messes up can meet a severe fate. In their financial statements, numbers can be entirely invented. This is a long-term Communist Party campaign to control the Internet; H attacked Google, Xi attacks popular bloggers and twitterers.
How U.S. investors can be directly affected by political repression abroad: China's Attack On 'Big Vs' Hits Red-Hot Nasdaq-Listed Sina Google's ex-China chief Lee Kaifu. Sina Corp. shows no signs of ending its amazing run. It closed at $86.58 on Friday, up $1.59 for the day. The Shanghai-based online media darling is off recent highs but remains well above its 52-week low of $41.14. After the impressive run-up, some analysts are worried. For instance, on Friday Forbes contributor David Trainer sounded the alarm by noting that the high-flying stock had just been added to his most-dangerous list. So what are Sina’s prospects? The company’s future is that of Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like microblogging service. Although Sina has other lines of business, only Weibo seems to count. Jack Ma’s Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, bought 18% of the social media site in late April for $586 million. Even after adjusting the price downward to account for the value of the option that Alibaba also acquired, Ma valued all of Weibo at almost the same amount as Sina’s total market capitalization on the day of the announcement of the deal, $3.7 billion. That is somewhat anomalous because . . . [more]
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, in re: India: Citizen Kejriwal .Alhough the anticorruption fighter Arvind Kejriwal represents a middle class fed up with graft, Delhi needs more than an angry man with a big stick.
On a balmy autumn evening at a neighborhood market in Delhi, a slight man in rolled-up shirtsleeves and loose pants exhorts a crowd of several hundred people to do something they have never done before: vote for a brand new party in state elections scheduled for December. "The revolution will start in Delhi and spread throughout the country," says 45-year-old anticorruption activist Arvind Kejriwal in Hindi. His voice, amplified to a deafening pitch, drowns out traffic on the busy road nearby. The crowd listens, rapt. As Mr. Kejriwal speaks, two volunteers of his Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party wend their way through the crowd with a bed sheet, gathering donations in mostly small bills. The message: AAP will rely on ordinary voters, not fat-cat donors, to fund its campaign. This piece first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on October 14. It will be posted in full to aei.org on Monday, October 21.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Abheek Bhattacharya, Columnist, Heard on the Street, WSJ & @abheekb; in re: . . . intl banking; economics Nobels this week; WalMart doubling down on consumer. The most stunning number in JPMorgan's results isn't its first-ever loss under Jamie Dimon. on.wsj.com/16VzuPb via@ReillyDavid. At some point, I both Japan and India people will demand less-expensive energy – will force politicians to do the right thing. In China, that doesn't translate up to the top. India: subsidies wax and wane. When push comes to shove, pols do get the sense that they're living beyond their means.
1 India Overdoses on Regulation HEARD ON THE STREET: India's decision not to grant a patent for the cancer drug Glivec is, "a setback for patients that will hinder medical progress," according to the drug's maker, Novartis. Hyperbole? Certainly. But there are good reasons to believe India's pharmaceutical sector faces serious headwinds. The decision against Novartis is based on a part of India's eight-year-old patent law that aims to prevent companies from getting new patents for making only incremental changes to existing drugs. The court ruled Glivec wasn't different enough from earlier versions of the treatment, so it doesn't deserve its own patent protection. The decision doesn't have much direct impact on Novartis's bottom line; the company says most of the Indian users of the drug get it free. Shares in Novartis' Indian unit initially slumped more than 6% after the decision, but regained most of the lost ground.
It is hard to tell if the ruling has wider implications. But the Glivec decision certainly comes against a worrying regulatory backdrop for big pharma in India. India's pharmaceutical sector offers much potential. PricewaterhouseCoopers says the market could reach $74 billion in revenues by 2020, from $12 billion in 2010. But New Delhi has made no secret of its intention to lower the cost of patented drugs and favor cheaper generic versions. Notably, domestic drug manufacturer Natco Pharma was granted permission last year to sell a generic version of Bayer's Nexavar, another cancer treatment. New Delhi said it favored Natco because the German company's drug was too expensive. Bayer fought to block Natco, but lost before a patent appeals body last month. While the Novartis ruling has been carefully tracked by the industry, it is the Bayer decision that should be most worrying. Price is the wrong foundation for patent law that should be used to protect investment in research and development. The Bayer decision signals that getting cheap generic drugs onto the market is New Delhi's top priority. A setback indeed for major pharmaceutical companies.
2 For BOJ, Moving Markets Is the Easy Part HEARD ON THE STREET: The Bank of Japan has ignited the financial markets. But it may not light a fire under Japan's real economy. The BOJ's announcement that it will substantially increase the purchase of Japanese government bonds, and venture into equities and other assets, had an immediate impact. Japanese shares gained 2.74% Friday and the yen fell sharply against the dollar after the bank said Thursday it will unleash an additional Y50 trillion ($523 billion) of liquidity in each of the next two years. JGB prices also swung wildly and some other Asian markets fell, with investors perhaps looking to reallocate funds to Japan--Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2.73%, for instance. Traders might cheer the volatility, though it's far from certain the BOJ can hit its intended targets: stoking inflation and reviving growth.
Doubling the monetary base--the narrow money supply which is under the central bank's control--may not stimulate actual investment and boost growth, says Hiroaki Muto, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management. The problem is that base-money creation has to pass through to the broader economy to make a difference. The last time Tokyo embarked on a program of quantitative easing, between 2001 and 2006, Japan's banks sat on the base money and investment didn't get a lift. The U.S. experience helps illustrate the challenge. The Fed expanded U.S. base money by 247% between September 2008 and March 2013, but broader money supply increased only 34% in that period. To date, the impact of Abenomics on Japan's economy has been limited. The country's exporters will benefit from being able to sell their goods more cheaply thanks to the yen's slide. But so far, the weaker yen has mostly just resulted in a higher energy import bill and a widening trade deficit, says Royal Bank of Canada's Adam Cole.
For some investors, the BOJ's policies are providing plenty of volatility and the opportunity to make a profit. For Abenomics to sustain genuine economic growth, however, Tokyo needs to provide more than just monetary policy fireworks.
3 Bonding Helps Ambani Brothers HEARD ON THE STREET: Everybody loves a family reunion. India's Ambani brothers have set the tone for increased collaboration between their telecommunications companies, a move that should strengthen their position in the sector. A deal announced Tuesday sees Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm pay a one-time fee of 12 billion rupees ($221 million) to use the optic-fiber network of Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications Ltd. Importantly, though, Reliance Communications called the deal "the first in an intended comprehensive framework of business cooperation." That makes sense. Reliance Industries Ltd., which owns Reliance Jio, had about $14.7 billion in cash and equivalents sitting on its balance sheet at the end of December. By contrast, Reliance Communications was weighed by about $6 billion in debt at the same date. Reliance Jio can save costs by accessing Reliance Communications' existing telecoms infrastructure.
For the rest of India's telecoms sector, though, the prospect of further Ambani collaboration is a concern. India's telecoms have suffered from intense competition that has squeezed margins. A multiyear scandal concerning the government's auction of wireless spectrum has also weighed on the industry. Last year saw some signs the outlook was improving. Spectrum auctions drew few bidders and some smaller players exited the industry altogether, suggesting competition concerns were waning. That raised the possibility of higher mobile-phone tariffs and better margins.
But optimism has waned recently. Daiwa analyst Ramakrishna Maruvada notes that competition is still tough, with at least eight players accounting for 78% of India's wireless revenue. Spectrum license charges are also expected to increase as the government tightens the process around license renewals, adding to the cost for telecoms companies. Higher spectrum-related charges will take a significant bite out of cash flow at major players Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Idea Cellular Ltd. over the next two years, Mr. Maruvada says. India's telecom industry offers huge potential, though the sector's also beset by challenges. Tougher regulation will weigh on all telecom stocks. By banding together, the Ambani brothers are on a sounder footing.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Rep Devin Nunes (CA-21), in re: the bill. Was it close? A foregone conclusion when the first plans were laid to get rid of Obamacare – was never true. Unfortunately, a lot of the GOP believed this, so we went through the three-week exercise and now have punted the ball for three months. "Lemmings with suicide vests" – we never have 218 votes; now we have to rely on what 6 Republican Senators can get for the best deal. Lacking 218 votes, we have zero leverage. . . . Any member of the House could have gone down and objected to the rule vote, al those who voted no tonight. If they didn't vote against the rule, what's going on? No conservative thinker believes this was a real strategy. unanimous consent. . . . This is not a place for profiles in courage. It’s disgusting. . . . History will not be kind to this president if he doesn’t cut a budget deal by [December].
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, and Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: Millward Brown Digital found how many have enrolled so far in ACA: 99.6% of people who went to Healthcare,gov did not buy insurance: 36,00 able to complete forms out of 9.4 million unique visitors. About 95,000 apps have been started (only) in California. Neither the feds nor the state will give out numbers. Why? Why no transparency, why not full answers? Delaware celebrated today the state's first ACA enrollee: Janice _, 59 years old. ACA will not work if the young and healthy don’t enroll; if not, a financial "death spiral."
CGI was fired last year by Ontario for going over budget and very late and providing bad info. Based on Virginia side of the Potomac; have struggled with projects before, incl with the FBI. A number of people on their masthead maxed out in Obama donations, and others have govt connections - HHS, e.g. – in the revolving door.
Meet CGI Federal, the company behind the botched launch of HealthCare.gov [with a no-bid contract] Over the past few weeks, if you've been paying attention at all to the unfolding disaster of people trying and failing to sign up for Obamacare online, one name keeps coming up: CGI Federal, the IT contractor that has orchestrated most of the Healthcare.gov Web site. By most accounts, it's been a complete train wreck, for reasons both technical and bureaucratic. Here's what you need to know about the company at the center of it all.
What is CGI Federal? CGI Federal is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian firm CGI Group, which was founded in Quebec City in 1976 by a pair or 26-year-olds named Serge Godin and Andre Imbeau. (CGI stands for "Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique" in French, which roughly translates to "Information Systems and Management Consultants"). Growing through scores of acquisitions, and providing outsourced IT services to massive companies such as Bell Canada and Quebec's provincial pension plan, CGI's business model depends on embedding itself deeply within an institution. "The ultimate aim is to establish relations so intimate with the client that decoupling becomes almost impossible," read one profile of the company. It's now based in Montreal and has a market capitalization of $8.9 billion on annual revenues of about $4.8 billion. Godin, who stepped aside as CEO in 2006, is now a billionaire and makes upwards of $4 million a year. After buying British rival Logica in July, CGI doubled its employee base, and became Canada's biggest tech firm. CGI Group has 72,000 employees in 400 offices worldwide — many of them in India — and 11,000 in the United States, with D.C.-area locations in Fairfax, Manassas, Washington, and Baltimore.
Wait, why haven't I heard of this giant company? CGI Federal is a relative newbie on the U.S. government IT contracting scene. It bought the U.S. contractor American Management Systems in 2004, but only started ramping up business after 2008, and accelerated in 2010 with the $1.1 billion acquisition of U.S.-based military IT contractor Stanley Inc. That sent its contracting work through the roof: Still, CGI is only the 29th largest federal IT contractor, with about $950 million in contracts in 2012, compared to number one Lockheed Martin's $14.9 billion. They also don't make high-profile weapons systems, but rather the guts of government Web sites that rarely bear their names. That said, they've learned quickly, and see the U.S. federal government as their area of biggest growth. CGI Federal's health-care practice has grown 90 percent year over year, largely due to the Healthcare.gov project. And for a contractor, ballooning projects are a good thing. "In the Federal Government business, we continue to see more extensions and ceiling increases on our existing work, while we further leverage our position on contract vehicles," said CEO Michael Roach on their latest earnings call. Those "contract vehicles" now amount to $200 billion, which Roach later referred to as a "hunting license."
"Accordingly, we continue to view U.S. Federal Government as a significant growth opportunity," Roach continued. CGI Federal now has an $8 billion pipeline of future task orders — doubling its federal business over the period of a year — including big-ticket items such as $871 million for the Defense Information Services Agency, a $143 million contract to do visa processing in China, and a five-year, "indefinite quantity" contract for the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard. (It's also working with state governments too — California, for example, handed it a $399 million contract to revamp its tax processing system).
What was their track record before getting the Healthcare.gov gig? Experience in similar types of projects is very important in getting federal contracts. CGI had done work in the healthcare arena, and not all of it good: Its performance on Ontario, Canada's health-care medical registry for diabetes sufferers was so poor that officials ditched the $46.2 million contract after three years of missed deadlines, the Washington Examiner reported. A spokeswoman for CGI says that both parties are bound by confidentiality agreements, but they're working on resolving the situation.
It has, however, helped deliver complex projects on time and on budget. Back in 2009, the White House's Recovery Board retained CGI Federal to adapt a well-functioning system it had built for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into FederalReporting.gov, another very complex, public-facing and high-volume site that would handle all contracts granted under federal stimulus legislation. This one got built in six weeks, for much less money, and won accolades for its flexibility and reliability.
How did CGI land the Healthcare.gov contract? CGI Federal's winning bid stretches back to 2007, when it was one of 16 companies to get certified on a $4 billion "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contract for upgrading Medicare and Medicaid's systems. Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts — GWACs, as they're affectionately known — allow agencies to issue task orders to pre-vetted companies without going through the full procurement process, but also tend to lock out companies that didn't get on the bandwagon originally. According to USASpending.gov, CGI Federal got a total of $678 million for various services under the contract — including the $93.7 million Healthcare.gov job, which CGI Federal won over three other companies in late 2011. [more] See also: http://smartcontracting.blogspot.com/2009/07/bringing-job-growth-to-rural-virginia.html Bringing Job Growth to Rural Virginia: CGI’s Southwest Virginia Technology Center of Excellence When he was campaigning for president, candidate Barack Obama made a stop in Lebanon, Virginia to talk about creating more high technology jobs. He singled out CGI, a global information technology and business process services provider, for bringing over 300 high tech jobs to a rural area of the state
California insurance exchange reports 94,500 application starts After two weeks of open enrollment, Californians have started nearly 95,000 applications for health insurance through the state's new exchange. Covered California, the state marketplace, announced the latest figures Tuesday and it said consumer interest in the federal healthcare law remains strong. State officials had previously reported 43,616 complete and partial applications for the first five days of enrollment through Oct. 5. These latest numbers would indicate more than 50,000 new applications through Oct. 12. Those applications could reflect a household with more than one person. The state didn't provide further details. Both Web traffic and call volume eased somewhat during the second week. Unique Web visits to www.coveredca.com dropped from 987,000 over the first five days to 603,000 last week. Calls slipped from 59,000 to 46,000, but the average wait time improved significantly to less than two minutes. CoveredCalifornia said it wouldn't release actual enrollment figures until next month for people choosing private insurance or getting coverage through an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program.
Full coverage: Obamacare rolls out The open enrollment period lasts until March 31, though consumers who want coverage to start Jan. 1 will have to select health plans by Dec. 15. Many experts think exchanges will face an influx of consumers just prior to the December deadline. The state has been scrambling to train enough enrollment counselors to offer in-person assistance. Tuesday, it said 279 enrollment counselors are in place and 3,824 are awaiting certification. CoveredCalifornia has said it needs about 16,000 enrollment counselors statewide. Officials said they have also certified 1,295 insurance agents to help with enrollment out of 17,768 agents who have applied.
Nationwide, the initial rollout of Obamacare has been marred by severe technical glitches at the federal exchange website, and to a lesser degree at the 14 states running their own online marketplaces. Covered California has struggled to get an online search tool up and running so consumers can check what doctors and hospitals are included in specific health plans. That feature is considered vital because many insurers in California have sharply limited the number of medical providers in their network to help hold down premiums in the exchange. The state took the provider search tool offline Oct. 9, and an exchange spokeswoman said it's expected to return soon after improvements are made. Starting in January, most Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty. In 2014, the tax fine is $95 per adult or 1% of household income, whichever is greater. The fines increase in future years. Premium subsidies are available for many lower- and middle-income people who make less than four times the federal poverty level — or about $46,000 for individuals and up to about $94,000 for a family of four.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: Mrs Kichner's recent brain surgery – fabulous timing. Her party, The Front for Victory, is not polling well even in strongholds, incl around Buenos Aires. Kichners have misrepresented the truth dos often that people are sceptical. She wants control of the media, esp TV. The one big independent service left in Argentina has a cable operation. Broadcast, and a newspaper. The cable is their man revenue source she's trying to require them to sell it. The Argentine supreme court is also frightening – the judiciary has somehow over the years since he Kichners came to power a decade ago maintained independence and ethics, When the president passed the media law, the court ruled in favor of Clarin; now the govt is appealing it to the supreme court, which had nine members but now has only seven after Mr Kichner began a campaign of harassment, and soon Mrs Kichner will control the court . The one justice with a swing vote opposing the obligation of Clarin to sell its cable TV has announced that his family is being intimidated in order to force him to change his vote. Pope Francis has spoke out against the Kichners – who reacted inappropriately. Economy is weak, lots of crime. Chavez playbook.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, in re: As Good as It Gets? ObamaCare supporters go through the stages of grief.
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: A Plain Sailorman in China: The Life of and Times of Cdr. I.V. Gillis, USN, 1875-1948 with Vance H.Morrison; by Bruce Swanson, Don H. McDowell, Nancy Tomasko, and Vance H.Morrison (1 of 4)
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: A Plain Sailorman in China: The Life of and Times of Cdr. I.V. Gillis, USN, 1875-1948 with Vance H.Morrison; by Bruce Swanson, Don H. McDowell, Nancy Tomasko, and Vance H.Morrison (2 of 4)
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: A Plain Sailorman in China: The Life of and Times of Cdr. I.V. Gillis, USN, 1875-1948 with Vance H.Morrison; by Bruce Swanson, Don H. McDowell, Nancy Tomasko, and Vance H.Morrison (3 of 4)
Wednesday 16 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: A Plain Sailorman in China: The Life of and Times of Cdr. I.V. Gillis, USN, 1875-1948 with Vance H.Morrison; by Bruce Swanson, Don H. McDowell, Nancy Tomasko, and Vance H.Morrison (4 of 4)