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Feb 05, 2007

Comments

c

As a Government Contracting Officer who recently returned to work for the federal government after a 15 year absence, the numbe of contractors in the government arena is alarming. The lack of oversight on these workers is costing the federal government a bundle. I personally know that we pay over $58,000 a year for the equivalent of a GS-4 clerk. It makes me crazy and all so that the administration can claim that we have a smaller government. Perhaps smaller, but much more costly.

The reason Soloway can make such ridiculous statements is because over the years the procurement laws have been weakened to the point where practically nothing is fraudulent anymore. Soloway and his ilk have flooded the debate and the market with outrageous terms like "Commercial Pricing" where even Air Force cargo planes are considered commercial. Where are all the public interest lawyers to fight this type of evil?

Sandy

I heard your Mr. Amey on the radio this morning talking about this subject. I have never been to your website before. There is a lot here to think about. That Stan Salloway was so sleazy! He was trying to argue that waste is perfectly acceptable. No wonder this country is in such bad shape. No wonder people hate everybody in Washington. I hope Mr. Amey can keep people like that in check.

K Streeter

Paul Light is a media darling who will say anything to get into the press. His background is all think tanks is it not? At least some of these commenters seem like they have got their hands dirty with actual contracts. I've at least seen Mr. Amey at procurement events. I think it is important to get the scoop from reliable sources.

KStretBuddyRedux

All,

You need to think of conractors as mostly arms and legs for service provision (even if doing thoughtful work), or manufacturing (IT systems, weapons systems, pencils), rather than decisionmakers. To anyone who has been a contractor, the idea of contractors making policy or making real decisions is laughable. It has happened, but only by default.

Decline in acq workforce numbers needs to be viewed against contract actions, not dollars. And remember contracting has been simplified. Contracting workforces in most places you see them are not overworked, but tend to be ready to complain at the drop of a hat.

As for the fine gents and women of POGO, they fully understand--correctly--that to cover "government" you have to cover contractors. The issue they sometimes have, though, is a strong belief that most contractors are charlatans. They don't think much of govies, either, but the contractors uniformly get trashed. Note that Dep AG McNulty has noted more than once that while the USA in Alexandria, he dealt with far more "matters" involving government misconduct than contractor misconduct. There are some rotten apples in both barrels, but it's gotta be a pretty small percentage. In government, the real sin is incompetence and slothfulness--leading the negligent performance. In contractor land, the sin is trying to make a profit, which far more often than not, yields a good performance because you have to do well enough to stay in business. There is Just enough misbehavior in both camps to keep POGO in business! Seriously, POGO does a great job, except when it looses its head and tilts.

Your brother in counter-corruption,

KSBR

Spoken by two contractor employees protecting their jobs and their wallets. What about Paul Light's study that found that contract jobs increased from 5.1 million in 2002 to 7.6 million in 2005. Moreover, despite contract spending increasing to nealry $400 billion, the Acquisition Advisory Panel found that "the federal acquisition workforce has declined by nearly 50 percent since personnel reductions in the mid-1990s" and that agencies need to retain core functional capabilities that allow them to properly perform their missions and provide adequate oversight of agency functions performed by contractors.

Contractors are taking over and someone needs to do something about it. I'm all for a small government and little government interference, but I'm also for less corporate influence over government decisions and policies.

Keith

The fourth branch is the media. No gentlemen, what we have here is the 5th or 6th branch, but guess what, the Founding Fathers already addressed this issue, i. e. letters of marquee and reprisal! You know, right behind declaring war! They just don't teach history anymore, do they? Regards Keith

Here Here KSBR! POGO often runs afoul of its mission, pointing fingers at the big bad contractors rather than the actions of the government. It's the Project On GOVERNMENT Oversight, not the Project On Corporate Oversight.

I realize this can be a fine line, but there is a big difference between the two.

KStretBuddyRedux

Trouble is, Scott, neither the Times nor you can back up the claim re the number of contractor bodies vs civ servants--and you are very comfortable in your assertion nonetheless. We readers didn't see any, er, numbers. And yes, I understand how difficult it would be to come up with a believable figure.

There's plenty to criticize in the contractor and contracting arena. But isn't the first party to be criticized the government. The government decided to do these things, and then selected poorly and provided scant oversight.

There are similar assertions re efficency and competence. Come on now. Have you ever heard the word incompetent used so much as in the last few years, and they're not talking about contractors.

As for dear CACI, they had the really bad judgement to take on the tiny task. They didn't take the "Washington Post Test," or in this case the NY Times Test. While CACI is not a bunch of boneheads, they made a damaging mistake.

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