Letter to the editor

Steve Kelman's column deriding two pending small-business procurement bills in the House fails to take into account that the American taxpayer for whom he expresses such concern fundamentally wants a level playing field — in this case, a fair go at the federal marketplace for all players, large and small alike ["A pair of misguided bills," Federal Computer Week, Sept. 18].

This desire is not served well by contract bundling. Here's why:

    * Savings don't automatically flow to the government just because there are two or three contracts instead of 10 or 20. Overhead for managing large contracts and large numbers of subcontracts increases as contracts grow in size. Those increased overhead costs get passed along to the government. Has Mr. Kelman forgotten the outrage expressed in the 1980s over $400 toilet seats?

    * Bundling drives small businesses from the federal marketplace. Fewer bidders means less competition. Less competition always leads to higher prices in the long run.

    * Bundling also fundamentally reduces the control small businesses can exercise over their own future by forcing them into a subcontractor role. On large, bundled indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity and governmentwide acquisition contracts, small businesses increasingly complain that their firms are used as window dressing to win the contract but squeezed out of expected work by the primes and other team members after the contract is awarded.

Beyond price and efficiency issues, is it ultimately in the government's (and the prime's!) best interest to shrink the federal industrial base by driving thousands of small businesses out of federal contracting? There may be a price we are willing to pay for the security of greater choice.

Acknowledging procurement efficiencies instituted by Mr. Kelman during his tenure at Office of Federal Procurement Policy, we nonetheless need to remember that the federal government does not exist to maximize profit. Government must address other, important social priorities that are not served by bundling, like guaranteeing equality of opportunity.

Paul Murphy

President

Eagle Eye Publishers Inc.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.