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Jun 27, 2008


KSBR nervous

This piece has a sloppy odor to it, beginning with a lack of basic facts. We'll stipulate the basic evidence of dysfunction that Light had in his op-ed. If anything, it is worse, and as pervasive as can be. Name an agency, subagency, or program that really works well and is cost-effective. No, don't bank on the PART ratings, although measuring is a great start.

Why would the post-er refer to the "White House's" titles. None of the cited titles are in the Executive Office of the President. They are in the cabinet departments, and yes there are too many layers. Fortunately, that part of the government's problems is crystal clear, in agency phone books or org charts. You can see the layering with no trouble. Now determining who is responsible and accountable--that's difficult.

Also factually, read Light's deeper research on federal contractor numbers. You can't square them with contract dollars or contracts. Several of his assumptions are, well loony. And many contracts are not denominated in labor hours or labor dollars. You can't tell--and there is no need to have the detail--how much labor is behind services like mowing the lawn or building a building or making a "thing" that the government buys. His numbers are inflated. He knows it, but won't admit it, in public anyway. He has been attacked for years by colleagues and others. That said, Professor Light's concepts and prescriptions are directionally correct.

Where we don't want to go is in the direction of adding federal employees, whose productivity is low and not getting any better. And they lack skills, even to oversee contractors, not to mention managing themselves.

Unfortunately, even though so much of the bureaucracy is wasting money and abusing us customers, it is not even in the top five things the next President needs to worry about. You know what the bigger issues are. Please go more lightly on the gratuitous words in the last paragraph. Don't be so breathless.

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