Re: Place your bets
I'm not sure in this case, I have seen cases where just paying for the license up front is the cheap way to do it... but it is not always the case. Sometimes a vendor just won't, or cannot provide what you want.
I have a friend who had worked in the oil industry for years. One of the biggest complaints he heard from his customers was how poor the tract management software was for making earnings statements to customers. He asked the company providing the software how much they'd have to pay to get the features they want. Answer: Not going to happen, ever, for any price.
He and two other programmers got together and wrote a web based app that does what the customers want. They built it modular, because it's still a work in progress, if customers want new features they are easy to add. They built it with a consistent internal API, so it can interface with other datasources easily in the future. They use agile development methods, development happens quickly and new feature to rollout times are short. And the program isn't Windows only anymore (on the customers side), it will run in any modern web browser.
I think these big firms doing government contracts are doomed to fail on the projects for a few reason too. Too much complexity, trying to tie in to different legacy systems with varying levels of support. Too large of development teams of substandard coders. Too long of release cycles, features people need now get added in with more complicated features that need longer test cycles, which end up being delayed because of bugs, which end up also testing with other code from other teams trying to get stuff done, which ends up causing other bugs, ad infinitum. By the time the code makes it to the user requirements have changed or additional systems need tied in starting the failure chain all over again.