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Jun 26, 2006

Comments

tradepressmomma

Okie, dokie, Mr. Dorobek:

We'll wait til you get back from vacation and then blog with you.

I must note that the comment counts at POGO and your blog seem to be similar--nil or in the low single digits. This brings up the age-old question: if a tradepressmomma appears nude at the National Press Club, will anyone notice?

Sincerely,

tpmomma

Connie the Contractor

Dear K St Buddy Redux –

Glad to see that you are still reading my posts. Sorry if I offended you with my last posting, especially after we seemed to have become good friends. Blame it on Dorobok, whose denial of a factual matter was too much for my gentle constitution to bear.

I was only trying to make the point that POGO’s detractors accuse them of taking outrageous positions, when the real outrage should be directed at the “creative interpretations” of POGO’s positions that the detractors create out of whole cloth. If you read the recommendations contained in POGO’s contracting reports, they are the stuff of motherhood and apple pie.

Now to answer your questions:

Question one: Your righteousness does not fit w your willingness (preference?) to stay in the industry that you believe is ultra corrupt. Why are you still in it, straight shooter and aboveboard though you may be?

Answer: I am totally on the straight and narrow. Can’t give you any more details for fear that I may “out” myself. Needless to say, my current assignment does not have me involved in any aspect of the “sleazy side” of government contracting. If anything, my job is to out the “no good nicks.”

Question two: Doesn’t it get under your skin?

Answer: Yes, but I am an eternal optimist.

Question: Do you feel you need to shower after some industry meetings?

Answer: Not only to shower, but to de-lice. (However, I must add that the food at many industry gatherings is top notch. This probably explains the girth of some of the industry's "senior leaders.")

I think that most of the rank-and-file people in this business are well-intentioned and basically honest. However, there is a small group of executives, lobbyists, and business liaison types who engage in behavior that brings discredit to all of us. Unfortunately, these people have a disproportionate influence on the business, and get much “air time” (too much) in the contracting media. They also seem to control the agenda on Capitol Hill and in many quarters in the Executive Branch.

I hope this answers your questions.

All the best,

Connie the Contractor

Christopher Dorobek

Dear "tradepressmomma" --
(I can't believe I'm commenting on something posted by somebody who actually calls themselves "tradepressmomma,"... )
I am always more than happy to address such questions. I will do so on my blog. The link is www.fcw.com/blogs
I'm on vacation, so it may not happen as quickly as it would normally.
cjd

KSB Redux

Con. the Con.--this one's for you:

Your righteousness does not fit w your willingness (preference?) to stay in the industry that you believe is ultra corrupt. Why are you still in it, straight shooter and aboveboard though you may be? Doesn't it get under your skin? Do you feel you need to shower after some industry meetings?
I feel your pain. If you think POGO's omni-accusatory posture is run-of-the-mill, you must think everyone in the industry is a bad actor, including your company, and, sad to say, you, too.

Connie the Contractor

Connie here-

I was going to let the whole matter drop, but I feel compelled to respond to both K Street Buddy Redux and the editor of FCW.

K St Buddy Redux – Now that we are in violent agreement, my original post responded to the following comments in your June 27th post, which read:

“That said, the NYT article in question does indeed overdraw things. And it is in complete sync w the POGO M.O.--if something has the slightest appearance of a smell--trash it. And POGO remains the arbiter of all things ethics; remember, we get the government we deserve/voted for. And legions of congresspeople and officials have written our ethical rules. Those are the rules. They may not be as strong as POGO --and I--would like, but we citizens asked for them.

But POGO won't wait for the facts, the investigations, or the trials. It will hang its hat on any old press article; and the Globe, NYT, even the WSJ, have an ingrained brain fart on government contracting. For example, they think, as Eric Lipton does, that a contract ceiling at contract award is like cash in the hand; he doesn't get it.

To meet POGO standards, a government official would need to predict his/her consulting clients years ahead to comply with POGO standards.

If POGO says something is unethical or implies it is illegal, that it is. No question about it.

Don't you realize that if POGO had its way, no one could work for the government but 30-year bureaucrats, droning on. That would leave us with, perhaps, less risk of something unethical, by your standards, or illegal. but the government would be mightily ineffective--even more so than today's trail of tears and incompetence.

And that's really something to cry about. You'd be better off chasing more bureaucratic sloth and negligent incompetence than the fringe elements of the contracting industry.”

K St Buddy – you were wrong on June 27th, and are wrong now. The problems in the contracting world are bad and getting worse. These are not “fringe” elements. This is the way of life in government contracting, much of it spawned by “acquisition reform.” Your comments about POGO are dead wrong. POGO is a very moderate organization, whose recommendations, re: contracting, can only be described as modest, at best. If POGO seems to you to be somewhat zealous about oversight and accountability, it can only be because the whole contracting scene has become so institutionally corrupt.

Mr. Dorobok - I have no idea how long you have been editor of FCW, but I can assure you that FCW took a letter to the editor and gave it to Davis’ staff through an FCW columnist BEFORE the letter was scheduled to be published. (In fact, the letter was never published because of objections from the Davis staff.) How do I know this? Because the letter was read by the Davis staff member word for word. I took liberal notes, and was able to obtain a copy of the original letter from the author, when I contacted her. Both of us were astounded to find that Davis staff member apparently had a copy of the letter.

I do not know whether you were editor of FCW when this occurred, but I can assure you that it happened.

Connie the Contractor

P.S. K Street Buddy Redux, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have met. although I do not work for Accenture. I have not been attending as many industry conferences as I once did. I can’t handle the self-congratulatory back-slapping.

tradepressmomma

OK, Chris D, thanks for your input.

Would you answer these questions, as well? (1) What happened to your Top 150 list? Methinks it appeared just once, no? (2) How often are your stories based entirely, or nearly so, on company press releases? (3) Why do they call FCW part of the trade press? (4) Will the new owners of 101 make changes that make the publication more independent rather than tethered to interests in advertising and conferences, and such? (5) Why do your "white papers" sound like so much advertising?

Christopher Dorobek

Ah, one loves to read that they are not too bright! All those years of education -- oh well.
Just a word to Connie, I can't speak for other publications, but FCW never -- and will never as long as I'm here -- send letters to anybody before they are published without the author knowing about it. Period.

K Street Buddy Redux

"Cool Fake Name"--your handle says it all, but please enjoy the show.

Conn. the Con.--I get it Con. I think we are in violent agreement. The term partnering makes me regurgitate everytime an SES or company VP says it. It means never having to say you, or your firm, are responsible for something. It makes KOs and GCers cringe. And this is why most large programs are truly F____ Up from the word go. And when the S hits the Fan, both client and supplier are manacled together in a frontal embrace and will obfuscate and fib to protect the back (front?) of the other. And have you noticed how some public contracts have almost no public profile, e.g., Accenture's USVISIT. Are you with that company? I think I've had the pleasure of meeting you at an industry confab.

Yours faithfully,

KSB-R

"Cool Fake Name"

With these last few comments you contracting doofusses really demonstrate why you put the capital G in Geek.

Darn, I forgot to put one of those cool fake names that people on this blog use on my last comment. I had wanted to be Smoking Man.

I agree with that last comment. I know my wife is also smitten with Angela Styles. I hear she's the best procurement lawyer in town.

Connie the Contractor

Hey K St Buddy –

Well, I was right about Safavian, wasn’t I? In fact, Kelman’s praise for Safavian makes my point. See: “Leadership, at long last, Safavian understands the needs of and threats to a value-oriented system.”

http://www.fcw.com/article88660-04-25-05-Print

K Street Buddy, you’re missing the point. Very few people are so crass as to openly ask contractors for jobs. They play a sort of Kabuki dance. The Procurement Executive helps the contractors, and the contractors are expected to return the favor. When properly engineered, it is quite legal, although the ethics may be questioned. The Steve Kelman’s of the world have openly endorsed this kind of “partnering” under the mistaken notion that representing the interests of a government client is anti-business. It’s not anti-business, it’s pro-client. Any attorney who “partnered” this way with the other side would lose his/her license faster than you can say “malpractice suit.” That’s what POGO supports: Effective representation of your client’s interests (i.e., the government). This is what contractors seek when they send their representatives in to agencies to negotiate deals. Why doesn’t the government engage in this type of private-sector behavior? Answer: Because of politics and the personal interests of the government’s representatives, many of whom realize how much more profitable it is to saddle up to industry rather than to try to vigorously represent the public interest.

BTW, I was never attracted to David Safavian despite his fondness for double-breasted suits. However, my husband was quite smitten with Angela Styles.

As a regular POGO blog reader, I am enjoying these comments. It is an exciting tit-for-tat.

K Street Buddy Redux

Hey, Connie the Contractor:

Is it true that you have a crush on D. Safavian? Still do?

Please see: http://www.govexec.com/mailbagDetails.cfm?aid=31421

Yours faithfully,

KSB-R

To Beth Babe--yes, it is I; I had to modify the handle because I swore I was quitting as a POGO commenter. Too bad it is not more lively and with more savants like you.. Keep up the good work, please. KSB-R

To Connie the Contractor (aka ironwoman76)--it is interesting to guess which company you are with--there are hundreds to pick from. Yes, the pickings are relatively easy for the industry, but it is not--like the world of defense hardware--a ripoff fantasyland. However, since you seem so pained, why not get off the dole or turn yourself in to the authorities or join POGO. That said (in jest, Connie--whoa!), if you really think your company is ripping off the government, you oughta quit that firm.

Re the preening, fawning government officials doing some version of a Darleen act, you definitely should be turning them in. That is so gross--pure public corruption as the FBI would define it. I would just love to see one of those gals or guys get indicted and convicted. There have to be many more Darleens out there.

As for the "press," they are as badly conflicted and pandering as you suggest. Besides severe subjectivity they practice, it is also true that, with a very few exception, they don't appear to understand the jargon, the underlying policies, and have little feel for business. I just love the ones who think revenue=profit....

Thanks so much for your input.

KSB-R

Connie the Contractor

Your correspondent KSB-R sounds like a Steve Kelman clone. What these people won’t accept is that today’s procurement system is much less efficient than the old “rules laden” one they so quickly discarded in their quest to make a buck. Oh, they can get contracts awarded quickly, but can they get the work done, and at what cost?

KSB-R argues it’s a democracy and we get the government we elect. Yes, it’s a democracy, but most people have no idea what the heck is going on in the netherworld of contracting, nor could they be expected to know. The professionals (auditors, contracting officers, lawyers) who once “policed” the system to keep it somewhat honest have been shunted aside or shut out altogether. Yes, the government still buys pens and pencils and office furniture and the like, but a lot of what the government buys, especially defense and information technology systems (and especially service contracts), tend toward corporate welfare. Everyone in the business knows it and is trying to cash in. The laws are notoriously loose, but perhaps worse is the cultural shift. It would have been unseemly at one time for government officials to obviously curry favor with contractors in order to obtain a job and/or other benefits. Today it is standard practice.

Federal Computer Week (FCW) and other industry publications just try to take advantage of the current environment. To illustrate how ethically challenged FCW is, consider the fact that it is well known that they have in the past sent copies of “letters to the editor” which are critical of positions taken by FCW columnists to the office of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) BEFORE the letters are published. In other words, Rep. Davis and his staff are offered an opportunity to review letters critical of FCW editorial positions before FCW publishes them.

Beth, I wouldn’t get too upset with FCW. People who are legitimate journalists should be upset with FCW for claiming to engage in the profession of journalism.

Beth "Babe"

Is this the real K Street Buddy? If so, I'm thrilled that we actually agree for once:

"They [the rules] may not be as strong as POGO --and I--would like"

K Street Buddy Redux

Beth Babe,

Dorob's may not be too bright and is a nitpicker. And the trade press does mightily suck up to the industry that it covers and has much unethical conflicts of interest. You are dead right in pointing that out.

That said, the NYT article in question does indeed overdraw things. And it is in complete sync w the POGO M.O.--if something has the slightest appearance of a smell--trash it. And POGO remains the arbiter of all things ethics; remember, we get the government we deserve/voted for. And legions of congresspeople and officials have written our ethical rules. Those are the rules. They may not be as strong as POGO --and I--would like, but we citizens asked for them.

But POGO won't wait for the facts, the investigations, or the trials. It will hang its hat on any old press article; and the Globe, NYT, even the WSJ, have an ingrained brain fart on government contracting. For example, they think, as Eric Lipton does, that a contract ceiling at contract award is like cash in the hand; he doesn't get it.

To meet POGO standards, a government official would need to predict his/her consulting clients years ahead to comply with POGO standards.
If POGO says something is unethical or implies it is illegal, that it is. No question about it.

Don't you realize that if POGO had its way, no one could work for the government but 30-year bureaucrats, droning on. That would leave us with, perhaps, less risk of something unethical, by your standards, or illegal. but the government would be mightily ineffective--even more so than today's trail of tears and incompetence.

And that's really something to cry about. You'd be better off chasing more bureaucratic sloth and negligent incompetence than the fringe elements of the contracting industry.

Yours faithfully,

KSB-R

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