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Tea Party: Here's one for you.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 10 May 2010 · 1,852 views

We?ve all heard of performance-based contracting. Well, now I want to talk about consultant-based contracting. While searching for something through Google I came to the website of a prominent, beltway acquisition consulting firm. Curious, I scrolled down their homepage and spotted this:

We Deliver Results
Fewer Protests
A large defense agency called on us with 14 procurements successfully protested over 24 months. Since hiring us in 2007, the agency has had 0 protests to date.

Oh, boy. If I were the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and I came across that, I would have a conniption. As soon as my blood pressure returned to normal, if it ever did, the first thing I would want to do is fire the chief of the contracting office who, in this time of deficits, paid a private firm to do what the taxpayers are already paying government employees good money to do. The second thing I would want to do is strip the warrants of the contracting officers who had been in charge of those 14 procurements. The third thing I would want to do is terminate the contract for convenience. (I wonder if it is performance-based.) If I were the chief of the contracting office that hired the firm, I would tell the idiots to get that boast off their website before some congressional representative or acquisition watchdog (POGO--here?s one for you) demands to know what office hired them and how much they have been paid since 2007. If I were a journalist, (working for the serious media, not Government Executive), I would want names, RFP numbers, contract number, the contract, including the statement of work, and dollar amounts.

This is the pathetic state of affairs in which we find ourselves in mid-2010. If we are to believe the boast on the website, and I do, a DOD contracting office had to pay a consulting firm to properly do the job that the contracting office is supposed to do. This is DOD management admitting that it has done a poor job of workforce development and that it has appointed incompetents to be contracting officers. Of course, that?s been going on for quite a while, and everybody knows it. I don?t blame the contractor one bit. Good for them. They saw a market and they sold to it. They have done nothing wrong (well, except for the website boast). I wouldn?t even bother to write about this if I hadn?t been so startled by the contractor's boast. Every competent person in that contracting office ought to quit it out of shame.

But maybe there is no reason to be ashamed. The true professionals work for the contractor. Maybe the contracting officers in that office are really nothing more than hard-working data-entry clerks, just happy to have a job in these hard times. Maybe they can?t afford to be ashamed. And to think: the people in that office will train new hires--unless, of course, they pay the contractor to do that, too. I wonder where the very best of the new hires will be working in a few years. Maybe for a consultant.

Hilarious Headline, Vern.
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Nice. You're right - there should be shame.

You have probably heard of Gov't managers complaining about being unable to improve productivity due in large part to the security people have as civil servants (public sector employees). The complaint is that people with authority are really unable to hold bad workers accountable and are certainly unable to fire people. It's amazing to me that those gutless managers stay in their cushy positions, allowing people under them to not do the jobs they are being paid to do. The status quo continues to be reinforced instead of being challenged and "lifers" train the new people how to be worthless as well.

Your blog is a serious charge against the ridiculous state of affairs we find ourselves in mid-2010. I was told the other day about a certain contracting office where ALL of the Contracting Officers have at least one dedicated contractor staff performing "acquisition/procurement" support for them. Amazing.
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