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FCW Insider: Obama contracting initiative hits a nerve

Readers are sharply divided on Obama's acquisition reform initiatives, with some readers grateful for the efforts but others still skeptical.

We received a flurry of comments on this week's cover story about the president's plans. Here are excerpts from just a handful of comments. To read the article and post your own comments, click here.

* Requirements that are not defined up front lead to multi-year, billion dollar fiascos… The list of government projects that shouldn't have even existed, let alone continue, is endless when the job is not well defined up front. For that, the government is at fault, so don't think that large contracting companies aren't going to take advantage of government managers that strictly follow the "rules" of the FAR, but do not have the slightest clue as to how to manage the contracting and building of large complex systems.

* If the new Administration really wants to help in contracting arena and save money, it should eliminate ALL of the special set-aside programs. These programs add to the hassles the contract administrators go through, reduces competition, increases costs and often results in lower quality service or product.

* In my 20 year contracting career I have watched our contracts overwhelming slide from competitive contracting to no-bid in areas where there is clearly adequate competition. It appears that some thoughts believe no-bid is faster but if done properly it takes much longer to do a no-bid contract than a competitive contract.

* The ban by [major commands against using] GSA pre-competed contracts due to poor acquisition/financial practices has cost the government billions of additional $s. Instead of fixing the problem, we ban their usage and add more FAR guidance. Instead of holding personnel who have broken contracting rules accountable, we re-invent the wheel and add to a broken, cumbersome process.

* We have moved to omnibus task-order contracts in large measure because the rules for competitive sourcing make competition so painful and time-consuming. I can't see a wave of the wand from an outsider making the kinds of changes that make government work better or save substantive resources.

* As a procurement professional working with a government contractor I'm glad to see the possible changes coming to government procurement. All the President has to do is to have all purchasing require justification, at least 3 sources of price comparison and have at least 3 internal staff approval order.

* Please read the FAR concerning incremental funding and fixed priced contracts. There are a lot of contracts and task orders that I work on that could be fixed priced; they are basically "rears in chairs." However, unless the comptrollers in the government provide all funding up front, we will not be able to use fixed priced contracts and task orders to their fullest extent.

* Funny. I have spend years selling software to the government and integrator community. The integrator community has more talent and drive than the government does. I would prefer to see them doing most of the work. No doubt there are talented and hardworking people in government--but the extreme job security, 40 hour work weeks and pension culture is obvious to anyone objectively looking at the situation.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Mar 10, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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