Sunday, June 19, 2011

Speaking of the Living Dead

It is back, per The Hill.  Reporter Kevin Bogardus gives us "White House donor order becomes flashpoint in Congress".

I am just not sure what this is all about unless it is some sort of intimidation.  The Administration wants federal contractors to reveal their political donations.  OK.  What about unions in firms that have federal contracts?  Shouldn't they also have to disclose political donations?  Do members of Congress not respond to the pleas of union members?

And, there is the question of how this will be implemented.  Will this be a once a year or twice a year revelation or will it be a report submitted with every proposals submitted?

How will it influence the contracting itself?  Perhaps at first it will just be information to the public, but will it have to be, at some point, taken into consideration by the Procuring Contracting Officer, the Procurement Committee Review or the Legal Review?  Will we create a whole new organization to do the "Political" Review?

But, here is the key thing.  Mr Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, says:
But broadly speaking, the president is committed to improving our federal contracting system, making it more transparent and more accountable.  He believes that American taxpayers deserve that, and that is why he has asked Congress to pass a full disclosure law.
The first step to improving federal contracting is to go "power down" (as we used to say).  That is, give more authority closer to the action.  Part of doing that would be to cut the Gordian Knot of regulation.

I have seen some strange decisions by Government Acquisition personnel in the name of fairness, including squeezing out a bidder because of the fact that being the incumbent gives them an unfair advantage over the competition.  Does this make sense? We wouldn't shun Shredded Wheat just because that was the cereal we last purchased.

Finally, if this is really about political clout, then the place to deal with it is in Congress itself.  Members of Congress putting in "earmarks" distorts the contracting effort.  On the other hand, sometimes the US Congress uses an earmark to move the military along when there is reluctance to do so on the part of the military bureaucrats.  My recollection is that the Light Weight Fighter Competition, which led to the F-16 and F-17, was because of Congressional pressures.

I am sure there are those who think that federal procurement is corrupt, but I would like it noted that when I was involved in Air Force R&D Procurement my work was NOT corrupt.

Regards  —  Cliff

2 comments:

lance said...

Happy Father's Day

nealcroz said...

Of course its bully pulpit intimidation!! You can back any political party you choose and any Presidential candidate you choose, just as long as it is Democrat and Barack Obama. If you are a medium sized company, or at the upper limits of a small business, you consider the efficacy of making a political contribution and the benefits that it MIGHT accrue.....but when you have to report it for the President and his "advisers" to see....are you willing to risk NOT getting a contract through a fair and impartial awards process? If Boeing can be taken to the woodshed by the NLRB for trying to put jobs in SC.....what chance does some little company have in the big game?

With nearly 20 years of fairly intimate knowledge of the AF acquisition world....I feel completely comfortable in saying that BELOW the SAF/AQ level....there is very little if any "political persuasion" involved. First and foremost...it is just waaaaaaay too risky. And second, whether one agrees with the decisions made by SAF/AQ or the AQ brain trust at DoD level.....your only choices are to salute and execute the orders given...or retire/resign. But you NEVER get to make the policy or the rules.....and your role in contract award is so relatively minor and draped in regulatory forces as to make it almost impossible to "swing" and award...and not face punishment under the UCMJ.