Thus Begins the Hard Work

As the administration-elect clears out the celebration balloons, it must see the very hard work it faces in living up to promises about procurement reform.

And what promises they are:

To curb pork barrel spending. Stop revolving doors. Adopt what amounts to a tide-shifting policy against no-bid contracts. What's more, they would find and expose more clearly the links between contracts and lobbying.

"Obama and Biden will ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid. Obama and Biden will also increase the efficiency of government programs through better use of technology, stronger management that demands accountability and by leveraging the government's high-volume purchasing power to get lower prices," says a bullet point on their campaign Web site.

Though compelling and undoubtedly earnest -- the soon-to-be leaders surely ought to have the benefit of the doubt for now -- the agenda represents a very tall order. Government Inc. can't help but wonder whether the Obama-Biden advisors really understand what they will be up against on their path to success?

For now, we'll confine ourselves to a few not-so-rhetorical questions. In the coming months, we'll be keeping a close watch on the progress and pitfalls, hopefully with much input from all of you dear readers who know and embody the complexity that is federal procurement.

Does the new administration recognize it is talking about reversing a years-long trend toward contracts awarded without full and open competition?

Do they understand that it means hiring and training many more contract workers, from program managers to contracting officers to the technical representatives that do so much of the heavy lifting (and by the way take on huge legal responsibilities for getting it all right)?

What about the entrenched corporate interests -- the technology companies, management consultants, and on and on -- whose sometimes very costly help the government cannot do without?

Have they actually studied the sometimes bumpy, ineffective efforts to "increase the efficiency of government programs through better use of technology, stronger management that demands accountability and by leveraging the government's high-volume purchasing power to get lower prices."

Are Obama and Biden really up to the hard work and complexity they face in improving and reforming a vast and important system? Government Inc. hopes so.

Please help with any thoughts and ideas.

By Robert O'Harrow |  November 6, 2008; 9:55 AM ET Procurement Debate , politics
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Wow. I am overwhelmed with the thought-laden insight. Does the election milestone mean that this blog will finally have some original substance?

Posted by: axolotl | November 6, 2008 2:22 PM

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