More contracting laws will cost taxpayers

In regard to "Military brass: Acquisition rules can't keep up with IT needs," welcome to 1984. Back to the future. Déjà vu all over again. Groundhog Day. All of these describe the direction our distinguished lawmakers have been taking us the past three years. These were the reasons for programs such as the Federal Information Systems Support Program and FAST to begin with. The General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service and the truly effective Information Technology Fund came out of these same types of federal procurement regulations and restrictions.

New ways of operating and thinking were needed then and they happened. Unfortunately, success breeds detractors, errors were committed and elevated to national scrutiny, and the government lost one of the best means of contracting America had ever known. Yes, inspector general reports unearthed some misinterpretations of contracting law and some actual abuses, but one story never told was how effective overall GSA's contracting means were in meeting the country's IT needs, both in and out the Defense Department. Five percent of the total contracting dollars may have been in error, and this is certainly a good deal of money. But the other side of that same coin is that 95 percent of the contracting dollars resulted in excellent service and products to meet the country's needs.

By focusing on the hanging chad of contractual errors, our lawmakers continue to attach anchors to the contracting process. And all of this additional lawmaking to increase contracting oversight has one major inescapable effect: It will cost the taxpayer money. Period. Back to the future.

Bill Johnson

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