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Friday, March 01, 2013

Instead of Cutting Services Because of Sequestration, Why Can't Government Departments just Make Their People Work Harder?

The title to this post is from a question asked on Quora by a member at that site:

 The following is our response:

The US Government is monumentally inefficient and does not design systems, practices and policies like the commercial venue to save money or make a profit.

Government typically designs systems to spend money and perpetuate bureaucracy. They hire armies of high salaried General Services civilians and large, independent contractors to do so on cost plus and time and materials contracts with a baseline that changes every time the wind blows.  We watched this phenomena from the inside for 36 years, trying to control costs. It was a maddening process.

New buzz words continually surface such as "Performance Based Contracting". We have hands on experience with that one. It was made part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in an attempt to pre-establish at contract award those discrete outcomes that determine if and when a contractor will be paid.

Interestingly enough, the blame for the difficulties goes right down the middle, with the government typically having problems defining what it wants as an end product or outcome and looking to contractors to define it for them. More than willing to do so, the contractors detail specific end products or outcomes, set schedule milestones and submit competitive proposals.
The winner is selected based on what the government thinks it needs at the time to fulfill its requirement and a contract is negotiated. Once underway, the government decides it wants something else (usually a management-by-government committee phenomena with a contractor growing his product or service by offering lots of options).

The resulting change of contract scope invalidates the original price and schedule, so a whole new round of proposals and negotiations must occur with the winner while the losers watch something totally different evolve than that for which they competed. The clock keeps ticking and the winner keeps getting his monthly bill paid based on incurred cost or progress payments. The link to a Government Computer News article on this phenomena is below:
The present state of the economy will not allow the aforementioned to continue. Government agencies are now hard pressed to insure the most "Bang for the Buck". It is in the long term interests of astute contractors to assist in that endeavor. The only way to achieve such an objective is through sound technical, cost and schedule contract definition via an iterative process of baseline management and control. The following article is our attempt to address that process:

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