Contractors: Boost Needed For Civil Servants Overseeing Stimulus

The Professional Services Council, which represents a wide array of government contractors, is worried.

Though they embrace the need for massive spending to goose the economy, they're fretting about the ability of the federal workforce to properly manage what they call "this tsunami of funding."

They have issued a white paper with recommendations about measures the administration should consider taking top ensure success. They're well worth considering.

Among the recommendations:

--"Create 'tiger teams' in each federal agency composed of representatives from program management, financial, legal, acquisition, human resources, and audit functions, as well as industry experts, to conduct rapid reviews of existing capabilities and develop rapid response plans for implementing the stimulus."

--"With the needs identified, there should be an agency-by-agency assessment of how to fill existing and expected gaps between the personnel resources available and those required and what mix of civil servants and contractors will best fill those gaps in a timely and effective manner."

--"Assess the procedures and management controls the agency has in place to manage contractors and determine if they are sufficient."

"Developing a well-trained and experienced federal acquisition workforce with the tools, resources and support it needs and deserves is the single most important ingredient for success. It's essential to ensuring the wise and effective expenditure of taxpayer dollars and developing the kind of collaborative partnerships with the private sector that enable government to achieve its missions."

Tough to argue with that.

Some questions we have: How much would all that cost? How many more bodies would it mean. Is it politically feasible to grow the federal workforce? Would the recommendations delay the extraordinarily compressed timeline called for by the Obama administration for saving the economy?

Here's what Joe Davidson had to say in the Post:

"If Uncle Sam wants to avoid the fiasco he wrought when trying to get help to Hurricane Katrina victims, he'd better get his acquisition act together fast," he wrote.

"In order to get the money to the companies that will fix the roads, repair the bridges and make real those shovel-ready projects, Sam needs a good, solid core of federal employees to do advance work before the shovels break ground."

By Robert O'Harrow |  February 25, 2009; 12:48 PM ET Contract workers , Procurement Debate
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The PSC is out to lunch if it thinks that the government can develop: "a well-trained and experienced federal acquisition workforce with the tools, resources and support it needs and deserves" in the less than 24 months that the Administration has been given to obligate the stimulus package funds.

Here is what the government can do: First, establish a central coordinating office to help agencies identify common needs and consolidate common requirements in order to minimize the number of separate competitions that will have to be run. Second, under existing rules, simplify the competitive procedures agencies use to award contracts. Both of these things can be done if OMB is competent.

If acquisition for the stimulus package is left to the individual agencies and the offices within them, using their existing needlessly bureaucratic procedures, then no one is going to be happy with the results.

These things can be done, and this will be a test of the administration's ability to prove to the American people that government can be competent.

Posted by: vernedwards | February 26, 2009 12:48 PM

You can always count on those 'good old contractors' to be there to lap up the gravy, and touting their expertise.

There is no difference between these birds and the nice brokers who tout 'managing your assets'.

Even with Bush's dumbing down of government bureaucrats, incumbents will certainly outperform contract 'leaches'.

My experience in industry was that work performed by 'expert' contractors was typically simplistic and/or inept.

I have never seen a cost effective plan or contribution from 'contractors'. Most of them are 'contractors' because they can't land a steady job.

Posted by: OLDSCHOOL2 | February 28, 2009 2:38 AM

Someone PLEASE do some sort of "cost analysis" on the effectiveness of adding even more controls in order to report to taxpayers. There are so many already that it reduces the procurement process efficiency to the point of being completely cost ineffective!! It's requiring more labor, more tracking, more TIME, more frustration and mind exhaustion than anything else I can think of in the Federal workforce. STREAMLINE and REORGANIZE what already exists to accomodate the necessary transparency!! So much has already been spent on budget reporting in the way of redesigned computer programs than I could even begin to address here! Remember that even current Feds will need to be trained in whatever changes!! There will be bugs to iron out that will take years and meanwhile payments won't get out appropriately!! BE CAREFUL!!!

Posted by: jammin4 | March 3, 2009 11:11 AM

This is a very simple Problem.. The answer is: CITIZEN of the UniteD STATES are the TAXPAYER....so now you give them back the Monies ....and let the business that grow under the "CITIZEN Spending Plan" and supply the "NEW JOBS" in their hometwons..
COOL CITIES! Starting with the SS Budget that takes in $ 569. Billion a year..we senoir WILL build this country again...and put our RETIREMENT monies back into our local economy..WE DONOT NEED YOUNG WIPPERSNAPPER" ..to lecture us on Global Economy...SO MR.President" show us the monies" NOW!Yes grandma and grandpa have grandchildren ..that need to see grandma and grandpa with new "TEETHS"! we will buy cars from American dealers...we will eat fresh vegetable and meat.(as soon the foodstamps budget trickel down to US! $ 10 a months just doesnot cut "IT"!
love your country

Posted by: sigup | March 4, 2009 2:01 PM

Well to LOOK for more HELP:
IN WASHINGTON is the WALTER REED HOSPITAL OUR SOLDIER ..THEY HAVE THE PROMISE from CONGRESS...GURANTEE JOBS when YOU COME HOME..Yes each congreesmen(women) HAS TO EMPLOYEE 10 SOLDIERS..to OVER LOOK and have on the" JOBTRAINING".THEY HVAVE the EXPIERINCE OFF HOW THERE GOVERMENT works!Also the congreesmen-women have to have a FULLSTAFF Offcie in there HOMETOWN. 5 days a week).First New law: THE LOBBIST has to address there congressmen-women with there request in the congressmen Hometowne!

Posted by: sigup | March 4, 2009 2:27 PM

Well, by golly! Who among us could disagree with Sigup?

Posted by: Dennis12 | March 4, 2009 8:10 PM

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