ISO...

Dearest Government Inc. readers,
We want you all to know we're attentive to your thoughts and ideas, even when there's a hint (or worse) of criticism. If the words are too sharp, we simply give silent thanks they're not sticks and stones.
Anyway, a reader going by Been on Both Sides II made some very interesting remarks and we'd like to hear more. So, if you see this, Been on Both Sides II, could you call directly or send some contact information?
As we hope you know by now, we are committed to great discretion.
Very truly yours,
GI.

By Robert O'Harrow |  October 3, 2008; 12:12 PM ET
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Dear GI - Thanks for the offer, but think I'll stick to posting occasional commentary here and elsewhere. With all due respect, it appears the Post is more interested in finding scandals than in understanding why this sort of thing is happening. Granted, the FDA contract is a shabby little episode, but it's only symptomatic of a much larger set of problems in Fedworld. Demonizing people trying to get things done in a deeply dysfunctional environment might sell papers, but it doesn't address the real issues.

Here's another angle I would've liked to see explored: why didn't the FDA turn to its own Public Affairs office to handle this crisis? Take a look at the size of that staff, and their salaries, and ask yourself as a taxpayer -- what am I getting for my money? Why would the agency need to rush out and hire Qorvis, by any means necessary, given these internal resources? A buddy buddy deal? Perhaps. But I'm betting the answer is more mundane, and a lot more depressing.

Exploring those questions will probably not get you a front page byline. But it might start revealing what's behind so much of today's contracting and outsourcing.

Posted by: BoBS II | October 7, 2008 10:42 AM

Hear hear. BoBS II is making some great points. As a government contractor I haven't ever seen outright abuse of the system. Not once. But I do see government employees, vendors, and third parties doing the best they can to cope with a very dysfunctional procurement process.

It's sad that no one -- the public, the press, or Congress -- seems willing to acknowledge that the problems are complex and procedural. Instead, it's as if everyone thinks it's a TV show plot; find the bad guy (because there just _has_ to be a bad guy), make ourselves feel righteous by administering justice, then cue the credits...

Posted by: Another vendor | October 7, 2008 12:25 PM

Hey, one bright ray of sunshine if this financial mess our country is in is that government officials are finally talking about cutbacks. Would't it be great if we came out of this mess with less government? Less government employees? More free market? Unfortunately, my gut tells me that is what should be done, but it is not probably. The taxpayer loses again.

Posted by: Less Govt | October 9, 2008 10:36 AM

I agree with both BoBSII and Another Vendor. I've just started working with contracting, but I've worked in government for almost twenty years. If you want to blame someone, blame Congress! They make the law and don't abide by it, slant it in favor the contractor who is their constituent or themselves, when they retire. They have an ethics committee, but consult with a lawyer to see if they're legal rather than ethical while making rules for the rest of the government that even the appearance of unethical behavior can get you fired. And I agree with BoBSII again; stop looking for scandal and get to the bottom of these things; look until you've found the WHOLE reason these things happen. The people I know in government are good people, doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. YOU try to obey rules that must first be translated, then interpreted!!!

Posted by: New at the Game... | October 9, 2008 10:41 AM

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