Author Topic: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread  (Read 227954 times)

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #40 on: 10/02/2014 05:51 AM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.

The article says the document was signed by Gerstenmaier and that it was his decision.  A number of the quotes in the article about why Boeing was better than SpaceX are directly attributed to Gerstenmaier.  He spent his entire career in a culture that NASA's traditional ways of doing things are the best.  It's no surprise that his dings against SpaceX all seem to fall into the category of subjective judgement that the old-school NASA way is better.

SpaceX also got penalized for bidding to do more for less money compared with Boeing on CCiCap.  Boeing bid to do not very much for a lot of money, so it easily met all its milestones on time.  SpaceX bid to do a lot more in the same time for less money and was late.  Never mind that for the next round SpaceX has less to do than Boeing because they're farther along.

This is also the same NASA human spaceflight organization that's building Orion and SLS.  Is it really a surprise they are resistant to change and more comfortable with spending huge amounts of money doing things the way they've always been done?

Offline MP99

Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #41 on: 10/02/2014 06:53 AM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.
Seems to imply that if snc are successful in their protest, they would replace SpaceX rather than Boeing.

Cheers, Martin

Offline MP99

Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #42 on: 10/02/2014 06:55 AM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.

I basically read it as NASA was too worried about SpaceX's innovation,  their secrecy, independence of NASA and not using NASA/space related COTS hardware as the main negative or risks. I don't see NASA opinions a negative on SpaceX.

A badge of honor IMO. It is labeled New Space for a reason.

It's a good thing that the Administration fought to have at least two CCtCap companies. DC on Stratolaunch (if it goes ahead) may end up being the cheapest because they won't have to deal with NASA oversight.
That's only three crew, so doesn't look to meet requirements.

Cheers, Martin

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #43 on: 10/02/2014 07:20 AM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.
Seems to imply that if snc are successful in their protest, they would replace SpaceX rather than Boeing.

I'm sure that's what Pasztor would like everyone to believe.

But it makes no sense.  If the GAO upholds the protest claim, they have to buy the theory that Boeing's proposal wasn't substantially better than SNC's, just more expensive.  All the points used in the article to say Boeing is superior to SpaceX would also apply to Boeing being superior to SNC.  So if Boeing isn't superior to SNC, it also isn't superior to SpaceX, so Boeing, SpaceX and SNC are all equal and the award would go to SpaceX and SNC based purely on price.

If the GAO buys the points Pasztor is making about Boeing versus SpaceX, the GAO would have to reject the protest by SNC.

In no case, protest approved or protest denied, does SpaceX lose out.

Online pospa

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #44 on: 10/02/2014 10:47 AM »
I believe that the protest by SNC will put a hold on CCtCap payments until the dispute is resolved.
Isn't it stronger than that? NASA cannot even enter into the awarded contracts, much less pay for work performed under them, until the dispute is resolved?

Yes.  Contract award may not be completed while the protest is outstanding.  If contracts were awarded, any work incurring USG obligations would be suspended unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise; none of those would apply in this case.  (FYI.  GAO must resolve within 100 days, although it typically takes less time.  Deadline for this dispute is 5-Jan-2015.
And here it is: http://www.nasa.gov/content/boeing-spacex-race-to-station/#.VC0qXWd_sn4

*NOTE: While NASA has awarded this contract, NASA has instructed Boeing and SpaceX to stop performance on the contract while the GAO resolves a protest.*

Offline Jim

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #45 on: 10/02/2014 10:55 AM »

The article says the document was signed by Gerstenmaier and that it was his decision.  A number of the quotes in the article about why Boeing was better than SpaceX are directly attributed to Gerstenmaier.  He spent his entire career in a culture that NASA's traditional ways of doing things are the best.  It's no surprise that his dings against SpaceX all seem to fall into the category of subjective judgement that the old-school NASA way is better.

SpaceX also got penalized for bidding to do more for less money compared with Boeing on CCiCap.  Boeing bid to do not very much for a lot of money, so it easily met all its milestones on time.  SpaceX bid to do a lot more in the same time for less money and was late.  Never mind that for the next round SpaceX has less to do than Boeing because they're farther along.

This is also the same NASA human spaceflight organization that's building Orion and SLS.  Is it really a surprise they are resistant to change and more comfortable with spending huge amounts of money doing things the way they've always been done?


Your post is no better.  You make assumptions about Gerstenmaier that aren't based on fact.  He made the CRS choice, the other commercial crew choices, etc.   

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #46 on: 10/02/2014 11:36 AM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.

I basically read it as NASA was too worried about SpaceX's innovation,  their secrecy, independence of NASA and not using NASA/space related COTS hardware as the main negative or risks. I don't see NASA opinions a negative on SpaceX.

A badge of honor IMO. It is labeled New Space for a reason.

It's a good thing that the Administration fought to have at least two CCtCap companies. DC on Stratolaunch (if it goes ahead) may end up being the cheapest because they won't have to deal with NASA oversight.
That's only three crew, so doesn't look to meet requirements.

Cheers, Martin
True Martin but that would be DC Mk II (my designation) not the orginal DC MK I part of the protests. (yea ok, I like Spitfires) ;D
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #47 on: 10/02/2014 11:43 AM »
Gerst is a good guy even if DC got shut-out. My issue is with the CC comp framework, new particpants only with an already operational CST-100 on orbit...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #48 on: 10/02/2014 01:33 PM »

The article says the document was signed by Gerstenmaier and that it was his decision.  A number of the quotes in the article about why Boeing was better than SpaceX are directly attributed to Gerstenmaier.  He spent his entire career in a culture that NASA's traditional ways of doing things are the best.  It's no surprise that his dings against SpaceX all seem to fall into the category of subjective judgement that the old-school NASA way is better.

SpaceX also got penalized for bidding to do more for less money compared with Boeing on CCiCap.  Boeing bid to do not very much for a lot of money, so it easily met all its milestones on time.  SpaceX bid to do a lot more in the same time for less money and was late.  Never mind that for the next round SpaceX has less to do than Boeing because they're farther along.

This is also the same NASA human spaceflight organization that's building Orion and SLS.  Is it really a surprise they are resistant to change and more comfortable with spending huge amounts of money doing things the way they've always been done?


Your post is no better.  You make assumptions about Gerstenmaier that aren't based on fact.  He made the CRS choice, the other commercial crew choices, etc.

Paztor's account is likely onesided, so I will reserve judgment on the selection process until I see the actual selection statement. But what I don't understand is why price was not given more weight in the selection process. The selection criteria were very clear that price was supposed to be the most important factor. Was this followed? I think that is DC's main complaint also. Their proposal was significantly cheaper ($900M) than Boeing's.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2014 01:37 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Nindalf

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #49 on: 10/02/2014 01:49 PM »
Looks like source selection document is leaked to an anti-SpaceX reporter in WSJ, I wonder how did that happen.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/why-boeing-beat-spacex-in-nasas-space-taxi-contest-1412207046

Nothing surprising, seems in terms of HSF NASA is still very much in the old ways, unlike COTS. Very little information on SNC, author is too busy gloating for Boeing.
It wouldn't let me read it (telling me it's for subscribers only), following the link directly from here, but I could get it by going through this:
https://plus.google.com/101878230938393527110/posts/jcmPMbFM8Qc

So now the fight gets dirty.  A document gets leaked, and somehow we only hear the points in Boeing's favor.  I wonder who leaked it, and under what terms.

Apparently "agency officials rated Boeing's bid better across the board", on a contract where the primary selection factor was supposed to be price, and Boeing was the highest bidder by nearly a billion dollars.  That's certainly an interesting appraisal of a non-public document he's not showing us.  Hmm.

And most of the arguments favoring Boeing appear to be along the lines that this is an old NASA contractor, doing things in the old (expensive) NASA contractor way.  Where the whole point of the program was to get away from that method and its costs.  This actually makes me feel like SNC has a very strong case.

Of course, past experience with Boeing being "responsive" can't be counted on here, since their past experience of Boeing is on cost-plus contracts.  This is firm fixed price.  If NASA says, "We're not sure we like this cheap thing, do this expensive thing instead." the past answer was, "Sure, it's your dime." now it'll be, "You want to spend Boeing's money?"  It's not going to go the same way, and extra fat in the contract isn't going to change that, because with a firm fixed price, every dollar they don't spend is profit for them.

It is wise to remember the example of the Delta IV, where Boeing stepped away from the cost-plus contractor model to try and do something in space, in a similar arrangement of an initial development subsidy, and no solid long-term arrangements for what happens after.  After Boeing gambled large amounts of money on the prospect of success and profit in the commercial launch market, and failed miserably, they spun it off into a merged program with their supposed competitor, replacing the intended commercial competition model with a monopoly, recovering their investment from the taxpayer through large cost-plus "capability maintenance" payments, and a share of the monopolistic profits on the grotesquely overpriced sole-provider sales of the competing vehicle that would have crushed them out of the market if they'd stayed separate.

THAT is the Boeing you're dealing with now, NASA.  "Heads I win, tails you lose." Boeing.  "I have altered the deal.  Pray I don't alter it further." Boeing.  With their lobbying power and shamelessness, the potential for them to lose money on this project if they perform poorly is more dangerous to you than it is to them.

As for "complex hardware and software development" remaining to be done at SNC, surely that applies to Boeing as well.  They haven't demonstrated their pusher abort system, and they've got a pop-off heat shield that's never been in space and is going into space precisely once before they trust it not to pop off at the wrong time with people in it (you'd think the Mercury experience would make them hesitate to trust such devices).  Two crucial systems for crew survival are designed to separate from the crew compartment, so there's a serious inherent risk that they'll do so at the worst possible times.

Offline Jim

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #50 on: 10/02/2014 01:52 PM »
Of course, past experience with Boeing being "responsive" can't be counted on here, since their past experience of Boeing is on cost-plus contracts. 

Incorrect, Boeing has done many fixed price contracts.


THAT is the Boeing you're dealing with now, NASA.


Again, incorrect.  Not the same group at Boeing.  CST-100 is mostly legacy Rockwell.   The Delta program went to ULA.  But anyways, Delta did many fixed price contracts.

You are completely wrong on all your points.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2014 01:59 PM by Jim »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #51 on: 10/02/2014 01:55 PM »


Paztor's account is likely onesided, so I will reserve judgment on the selection process until I see the actual selection statement. But what I don't understand is why price was not given more weight in the selection process. The selection criteria were very clear that price was supposed to be the most important factor. Was this followed? I think that is DC's main complaint also. Their proposal was significantly cheaper ($900M) than Boeing's.

I don't quite understand the "price is the main factor" thing. It's absurd on the face of it. If NASA has little or no confidence that the offeror can do what he proposes, then price becomes irrelevant. NASA is just not going to select a proposal that they have low confidence in.

I suspect what happened here is that NASA simply had less confidence that SNC would be able to meet their milestones. The WSJ article by Andy Pazstor said NASA rated Boeing "very high confidence", and SpaceX "high confidence." He didn't say how SNC ranked, but I doubt they got a "high confidence."

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #52 on: 10/02/2014 02:46 PM »
{snip}
Of course, past experience with Boeing being "responsive" can't be counted on here, since their past experience of Boeing is on cost-plus contracts.  This is firm fixed price.  If NASA says, "We're not sure we like this cheap thing, do this expensive thing instead." the past answer was, "Sure, it's your dime." now it'll be, "You want to spend Boeing's money?"  It's not going to go the same way, and extra fat in the contract isn't going to change that, because with a firm fixed price, every dollar they don't spend is profit for them.
{snip}

Worse this is a fixed time contract.  Anything that may delay the launch date is going to receive a nasty reception from Boeing's management.  When the managers realise that say changing the shade of blue on the NASA symbol can expose the company to public ridicule they will get awkward.  It is not so much the minutes needed to buy the paint but the week the engineers on the critical path will need to write the report replying to the change request.

Offline yg1968

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #53 on: 10/02/2014 02:49 PM »


Paztor's account is likely onesided, so I will reserve judgment on the selection process until I see the actual selection statement. But what I don't understand is why price was not given more weight in the selection process. The selection criteria were very clear that price was supposed to be the most important factor. Was this followed? I think that is DC's main complaint also. Their proposal was significantly cheaper ($900M) than Boeing's.

I don't quite understand the "price is the main factor" thing. It's absurd on the face of it. If NASA has little or no confidence that the offeror can do what he proposes, then price becomes irrelevant. NASA is just not going to select a proposal that they have low confidence in.

I suspect what happened here is that NASA simply had less confidence that SNC would be able to meet their milestones. The WSJ article by Andy Pazstor said NASA rated Boeing "very high confidence", and SpaceX "high confidence." He didn't say how SNC ranked, but I doubt they got a "high confidence."

Yes of course. Price is the main factor but it's not the only factor. But the article doesn't say that NASA had little or no confidence in SpaceX's or SNC's proposal. Like I said, I will reserve judgment until I see the selection statement but NASA needs to explain why it decided to spend an extra $900M on Boeing's proposal over the one by SNC. Perhaps this is well explained in the selection statement. It's not well explained in Paztor's article.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2014 02:50 PM by yg1968 »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #54 on: 10/02/2014 03:04 PM »
Let's say the price rating was 4 for SpaceX, 3 for SNC, and 2 for Boeing and the price confidence rating was 4 for Boeing, 3 for SpaceX, and 2 for SNC.  Usually these two are multiplied together to get the ranking: SpaceX 12, Boeing 8, and SNC 6. So if this was close to the actual numbers used the ranking was the reason why SNC ended up on the bottom.  While the price rating is an objective rating the confidence level in the price is an opinion/subjective rating.

The source selection review of proposals is supposed to be blind in that the proposers name is replace by a number in all documents being reviewed.  This works fine if the reviewers have no past experience with the proposed products.  But since the proposed products are well known to the reviewers the source selection confidence rating will be tainted by the opinions on the proposer rather than the proposal in front of them.  If this tainting of the confidence rating of both the price and technical can be shown to have occurred by the GAO review then the awardee relative rankings of the proposals could be very different than the NASA one in which one or both (not likely to have both) awards are overturned and an new first and second place is designated resulting in a contract cancelation and a new contract award.

Offline starsilk

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #55 on: 10/02/2014 03:05 PM »
Paztor's account is likely onesided, so I will reserve judgment on the selection process until I see the actual selection statement. But what I don't understand is why price was not given more weight in the selection process. The selection criteria were very clear that price was supposed to be the most important factor. Was this followed? I think that is DC's main complaint also. Their proposal was significantly cheaper ($900M) than Boeing's.

hmm. perhaps nobody on the selection committee realized they were supposed to be selecting based on the lowest price? ;)

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #56 on: 10/02/2014 03:13 PM »
Let's say the price rating was 4 for SpaceX, 3 for SNC, and 2 for Boeing and the price confidence rating was 4 for Boeing, 3 for SpaceX, and 2 for SNC.  Usually these two are multiplied together to get the ranking: SpaceX 12, Boeing 8, and SNC 6. So if this was close to the actual numbers used the ranking was the reason why SNC ended up on the bottom.  While the price rating is an objective rating the confidence level in the price is an opinion/subjective rating.

The source selection review of proposals is supposed to be blind in that the proposers name is replace by a number in all documents being reviewed.  This works fine if the reviewers have no past experience with the proposed products.  But since the proposed products are well known to the reviewers the source selection confidence rating will be tainted by the opinions on the proposer rather than the proposal in front of them.  If this tainting of the confidence rating of both the price and technical can be shown to have occurred by the GAO review then the awardee relative rankings of the proposals could be very different than the NASA one in which one or both (not likely to have both) awards are overturned and an new first and second place is designated resulting in a contract cancelation and a new contract award.

Past performance is typically a legitimate factor in evaluating proposals. And in this case there is specific mention of past performance in the Gerstenmaier memo cited by Andy Pasztor in the WSJ:

"Based on Boeing's performance on a preliminary contract, NASA concluded it had "very high confidence" in that company's likelihood of delivering what it promised—the highest ranking possible."

"In summary, Mr. Gerstenmaier decided that "Boeing's superior proposal, with regard to [the company's] technical and management approach and its past performance," was worth the higher price."
« Last Edit: 10/02/2014 03:18 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Nindalf

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #57 on: 10/02/2014 03:19 PM »
I don't quite understand the "price is the main factor" thing. It's absurd on the face of it. If NASA has little or no confidence that the offeror can do what he proposes, then price becomes irrelevant. NASA is just not going to select a proposal that they have low confidence in.
What you have to factor in is that NASA's standards have been judged unreasonable, from higher up the food chain.  NASA has been constrained by law to use commercial space transportation services whereever possible.  (And they've also been constrained by law to build the SLS.  It's not that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing, it's just that one hand hates the other and keeps trying to break its fingers.)

They can't just use a supposed commercial acquisition contract as a fig leaf for business as usual, while actually ignoring economy and insisting on their usual level of involvement and control right down to the choices of components used on the vehicles.  They can't just give lip service to treating price as a strong factor in their solicitation, and then make excuses for going with the high bidder.  They have to operate in actual good faith.

SNC's case is that they haven't, and now I think they've got a strong one.

He didn't say how SNC ranked, but I doubt they got a "high confidence."
Because the article is a hatchet job.  Of course SNC also got rated "high confidence".  If it didn't, he'd have said so because it would hurt SNC, just as SNC claimed in their press release that the difference in mission suitability scores was minor, when they're aiming to displace Boeing, who scored higher.

If he comes out and says that SNC got rated as highly as someone who did get a contract, that's fuelling SNC's claim of being adequate for the job and nearly a billion dollar cheaper, which should have been a lock according to the terms of the solicitation.  Public perception matters.  If SNC and SpaceX can whip up outrage over $4.2 billion for a clunky, ugly, primitive, quasi-reusable system which lands like other things crash, and which even the provider doesn't believe in enough to build without a fat NASA contract, when the other options were 2.6 and 3.3 billion for sleek futuristic designs aiming for high reusability and aircraft-like operations, which are going ahead one way or another regardless of government funding, the scandal will likely influence the ultimate outcome (if not of this protest, then of the funding for the program, and its possible cancellation in favor of something with less NASA oversight).

Whether or not there was a quid pro quo arrangement with Boeing representatives to leak this document (and they've certainly been caught with their fingers in the pie before), the content of this article clearly comes from a Boeing supporter trying to manipulate public perception in Boeing's favor with half-truths and tactical omissions.

THAT is the Boeing you're dealing with now, NASA.
Again, incorrect.  Not the same group at Boeing.  CST-100 is mostly legacy Rockwell.
I'm not talking about the engineering team, I'm talking about the whole corporate machine.  You don't deal with one tentacle in isolation from the beast.  As I've posted before, I like the engineering.  I think there's real long-term potential in the modular concept, beyond LEO.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #58 on: 10/02/2014 03:28 PM »
Of course SNC also got rated "high confidence".

Hmmm, you sound awfully sure of your crystal ball.  ;)

We'll find out soon. I don't claim to know. It would certainly bolster SNC's case if they did get a "high confidence." But NASA could then claim that "very high" beats merely "high."

It all comes down to the relative weight of the factors.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2014 03:31 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Jim

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Re: Commercial Crew (CCtCAP) - Discussion Thread
« Reply #59 on: 10/02/2014 03:49 PM »

I'm not talking about the engineering team, I'm talking about the whole corporate machine.  You don't deal with one tentacle in isolation from the beast. 

Yes, you do.  The groups are isolated.

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