Contractor Identification

When a contractor is doing work for a government agency, the client is going to want to know who are the employees that shall perform the actual work. There are many levels of validating these employees. At my company they requires that contractor employees get fingerprinted. It seems this is the same as the author of the Software Maintenance blog.

In the past I had to go to the police station to get a set of current fingerprints. Then I would take this to the government agency that issued the contract to my company. This was a messy business, with the ink for my fingers. It was also a bit disturbing to go into the police station. I felt like I was getting fingerprinted next to all the criminals that were getting processed.

Luckily my government client handles all the fingerprinting. And they have modern machines that can take the print digitally. No more need for messy fingerprint ink. The digital fingerprint scanner does not always work on the first try. But it is a big improvement over the old technique.

Who Pays For Software

I work on a good sized development contract. The customer wants us to accept input files in a different format next year. To assist in this, I think we are going to buy a product called XMLSpy to get the job done. The enterprise version of this product costs over $1000. Here is the challenge. Who pays for this software? And how do I get them to buy it for the project?

My company would like the client to pay for the software. However procurement is a lengthy process. It seems to take forever just to get the client to buy the software they need right now. It may be even harder to get them to pony up the funds to purchase a product they might need in about a year. I think this is a job for our Software Development manager. He actually knows how good a product XML Spy is. So I do not think it will be hard to get him on my side. Unfortunately he is the decision maker.

Things like this seem to vary from contract to contract. In some arenas, procurement of up to $1 million or more is no sweat. But you need to be talking with the top man, the decision maker. Right now I do not have the ear of such a person. I guess it is time to make those contacts. They could only help our company and project out in the long run.

Selling Source Code

I read posts on a software development message board frequently. Mostly these are guys that have started small companies to sell shrink wrapper software. One guy from Australia said he encountered a request from a United States state government agency. They wanted to purchase a license for his source code. They wanted to do their own modifications. The software author wondered what to do.

Here is a little more background. This guy sells an application for $150 a copy. This state government has a 1000 user license which cost them $5500. Some people commented that big agencies like to make sure they can continue to use the software even when the manufacturer goes out of business. This seems reasonable. But how do you come up with a price to charge the government for such a request?

You could calculate how many hours it cost to write the software. Then you could apply some hourly rate such as $100 per hour. Finally you could multiply that by a factor which represents the loss of you selling the license. Suppose it took you 1000 hours to write the software. At $100 per hour that would put you at $100k. From there you would apply some multiplier such as 2 or 3 to get the final bill.

Now I do not have any successful software selling for $150 a pop. But if I did, I would think that you could charge whatever the government was willing to pay for a license of the source code. This guy sounds like he is in business after all. It is just another type of business transaction. Of course he would probably have to go through some justification on how he arrived at the cost. But in the world of the government, there is probably a huge budget. A couple hundred thousand would be no big deal.