Letter: Readers weigh in on ending cost-plus contracting

No understanding in saying no to cost-plus contracts

Regarding "McCain wants to end cost-plus contracting": The proposal to eliminate cost-plus contracts and rely on fixed-price contracts indicates a lack of understanding of acquisition options.

The reality is that the requirements and capabilities are
often not sufficiently developed up front to support a firm fixed-price
contract. Firm fixed-price contracts are appropriate for routine,
repeatable goods and services.

Qualified contracting officials help avoid all contract misuse

Regarding "McCain wants to end cost-plus contracting": Cost plus contracts, if properly used, save money. If contractors bid on work that is not well defined, but necessary (repairing jet aircraft, when you don't know everything that is broken???), the contractor must cover his cost. If in doubt, he will
bid the maximum cost possible, if he must bid firm fixed price. So...if only a small amount of work is really needed, the government is out the balance (we paid too much).

Sen. McCain is correct to challenge misuse of cost-plus contracts,
but we all should challenge any misuse of any type contract.

Sen.  McCain should staff government contracting with an ample supply of
qualified COs, and let them do their work.

What about focusing on scope creep?

Regarding "McCain wants to end cost-plus contracting": This is so typical of the political pandering that is
rampant during the election process. Only a truly uninformed or
willfully ignorant person would believe that the U.S. government could
continue to function in an environment that allowed only fixed-price
contracts. I can easily visualize the amount of time and resources that
would be consumed arguing over "scope" issues.

People tend to forget that a cost overrun does not necessarily equal more profit for the
contractor. The problem is lack of oversight and "scope creep" far more
often than than the contractor's deliberate action to drive cost up.

Fixed-price contracts leave no room to grow

Regarding "McCain wants to end cost-plus contracting": It is simply foolish to believe that a year-long effort would not overlap with new presidential directives, legislation, political appointee changes, technology and security directives, personnel changes, etc.

So to lock into a fixed-price contract is not providing the best evolutionary solution to the problem. Actually we have found that the Agile methodology provides for more coverage of dynamically changing requirements.

McCain's call for fixed price will stall development

Regarding "McCain wants to end cost-plus contracting": With 26 years as a senator, McCain should know better.
Fixed-price contracts are great when there are few if any unknowns. Nobody in their right mind would suggest or sign a fixed-price contract when development of new capabilities/technologies/products is needed.

Failure of the A-12 aircraft program is a case in point. Fixed price is the pathway to zero technological progress. McCain is either firing a cheap shot, purposefully lying to further his political ambition, just plain stupid, or both.

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