In the middle of July 2023, Wifcon.com will begin its 25th year online, if I'm still alive and functioning. I'm Bob Antonio, I'm Wifcon.com, I'm 73 years old now, and I started Wifcon.com in 1998, before many of you were born. I'm well but I am mortal.
Over the years, I've met a handful of you in person including Vern Edwards, Ralph Nash and Joel Hoffman. Others I've met by accident include a Procurement Executive at the Department of Commerce when I was a member of the workaday world. That's it. I've simply been the man behind the curtain. I'm writing this because I want to share some of my thoughts about the changes in contracting that I've noticed.
Wifcon.com started when Steve Kelman was the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). He was a vibrant leader who tried to make changes in procurement policy and tried to connect directly with contract specialists. One of the ways he connected with contract specialists was through a discussion board. When that discussion board died in 1998, Wifcon.com started its own Discussion Forum immediately. Many, if not all, of OFPP's users moved to Wifcon.com's Discussion Forum. Yes, if you look at Wifcon.com's Discussion Archives, you will notice that some discussions are over 20 years old. It seems to me that in the early years of the Wifcon Forum there were more seasoned contract specialists participating. I'm really not sure. On the other hand, there are many more industry members using the Wifcon Forum. Although the Wifcon Forum is viewed about 250,000 times a month, the users are mostly quiet with only a handful participating regularly. As the regular posters age and disappear, I don't know who will replace them. Participation is the lifeblood of discussion forums. Without active participation, discussion boards die. To try to enhance the Wifcon Forum, I have started adding specialized blogs that can provide feeds to Wifcon.com. In that way, I can provide them with silent and unpaid advertising while providing information to you.
Wifcon.com's Home Page and its daily update preceded the Discussion Forum by a few days in 1998. When I began the Home Page my goal was to provide important information faster to you than was available from other sources. In many cases, I have done that for most of Wifcon.com's life. At first, there was a good deal of information to publish. However, over the years, agencies published less and less useful information. Where OFPP was once vibrant in 1998 it is now comatose. It hasn't had an Administrator for years and I don't even check it anymore. Contracting information has always taken a back-seat to most anything else but the goveernment seems to have forgotten what it is altogether. Why pay attention to contracting with only hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually, with the defense of the nation depending on it, with the pandemic defeated by it? Forget us at your own risk. With the exception of the Departments of Defense and Energy, information from agancy sites is hard to find. To counter this lack of information, I have had to search for more and more sources to find contracting information. Since Wifcon.com is a one-person show, that additional time to find sources takes more and more of my time and I only have so much time in a day.
In 2008, Wifcon.com stopped for a week. I decided to quit. Instead, I converted it to a commercial site and accepted advertising. Until then, I paid all costs myself. The advertising increased until the pandemic and the business slowdown reduced advertising throughout the economy. I've lost advertisers as have some of the largest companies in the United States. I'm still covering my costs to maintain the site and now pay myself about $.10 (ten cents) an hour for my effort. That's down from a high of about $.25 (25 cents) an hour. Someone once told me that Wifcon.com was a labor of love. Maybe it's just a bad habit.
Over the next couple of months and before Wifcon.com's 25th anniversary, I hope to convert the outdated--non-discussion board--software to a current software that looks attractive. At that time, I will reduce the number of site pages from the current hundreds of pages to something manageable. Currently, the advertising on the Discussion Forum conflicts with the software used to operate the Forum. I also hope to hire someone to fix the flaws in the Disscussion Board software and to correct its conficts with my advertising.
Before I end, I want to thank my former and current advertisers, especially Vern Edwards, who also contributes articles for publication on the Discussion Forum and has written wonderful Articles over the years for Wifcon.com's main site. If you see something posted from him, read it, study it! Also, I would be remiss if I didn't thank the regular posters on the Disscussion Forum. Without them and all posters, the Discussion Forum would die. I cannot keep it alive, only you can. I just wish some of the thousands of lurkers would participate before it is gone.
There are times when I think of myself as a dinosaur from another era. I can neither explain to you nor to myself why I maintain this site. There are others you will find more interesting and knowledgeable on the Discussion Forums. However, I know they are aging as I am and they are mortal too. Take advantage of them while you can. Myself and the regular posters that you see on the Discussion Forum have one thing in common. We are all here to share our knowledge with those who ask and we do it for free. We have done that from the start of Wifcon.com. Quite often, I see a poster thanking those that respond to their question on the Discussion Forum. I like that and appreciate that.