Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Government Contracting Future???

An Associated Press story outlines plans by the Obama administration to overhaul government contracting at a savings of $40 billion per year. Sounds good, but details are scant. Here are a few quotes from the story worth mentioning.

Those new rules, officials said, would make it more difficult for contractors to bilk taxpayers and make some half-trillion dollars in federal contracts each year more accessible to independent contractors.
OK. That sounds good. But, what do they mean by "independent contractors?" Or what about:

Obama will say that his administration will stop outsourcing to private contractors many services that should be performed by government employees. He also pledged to open contracts to small businesses and eliminate "unnecessary" no-bid contracts that allow preferred contractors to take assignments even though they might not be the least expensive option.
The first sentence sounds suspiciously like more government expansion. There are certainly jobs that should be performed by government for a variety of reasons, but most of the time it is more costly and inefficient. Equally important is that the first sentence in this quote appears to contradict the previous quote.

The administration official said Obama would not, however, sacrifice national security to save pennies. The official also said the administration plans to increase transparency and accountability provisions in contracts -- a major theme of Obama's young administration. [my emphasis added]
OK. The rest was sounding OK, but the highlighted statement runs counter to our experience so far with this administration. This is just another issue to watch closely in the future.