-- And the Government Representative Who Signed Off on Operational Readiness --
After the suicide mission in Washington D.C. ended Thursday night the “body media” along with all the blog sites began the expected harp about the failure of the Obamacare website. It wasn’t until listening to the opening of the Friday edition of All In with Chris Hayes that I realized that our news media talks more about symptoms rather than root causes. I realized how pathetic our news media has become as exemplified by Mr. Hayes failure to recognize that he has one of the most valuable and salient stories relative to the upcoming “budget negotiations and shut down 2013 part 2”. The story is the failure of government contractors to deliver quality products on time and within budget.
Chris Hayes along with the other talking heads have the perfect opportunity to expose the gross failures of government contractors that continue to cost the taxpayer billions due to cost overruns and failures to meet schedule and technical requirements. These failures and the cost overruns associated with them will go UNNOTICED in the upcoming budget negotiations as long as Hayes and the rest of media do not shed light on them. Instead Hayes rambled on about all of the symptoms of the Obamacare website.
Never once in his rant did he mention anything about the government contractor responsible for designing, developing, and deploying the website. Never once did we hear anything about why the government contractor felt that the website was in an operational readiness state on October 1, 2013. And who in the government was responsible for signing off on its turnover and operational readiness? I’m only pointing out Chris Hayes because in his rant he made the point that we shouldn’t go easy on the Obamacare website because we want it to be successful. Well we shouldn’t go easy on “journalists” responsible for bringing us valuable and useful information because we want them to be successful too.
A culture has developed in the world of government contracting around the concept of the “lowest bidder”. Even worse the lowest bidder concept has taken on a new meaning of “Lowest price - technically acceptable”. This means that all proposals are scored on ability to meet technical requirements after which, the proposal with the best price (lowest bid) wins. Well government contractors are taking drastic efforts to win contracts. It is more formally referred to as the “Price To Win” (PTW) Strategy. It is this strategy that is employed to determine the winning price for a bid and in some cases prices that are unrealistic in which to get the work done. Getting the job done is not the goal of the proposal process, winning the work is. Just win baby!
This is coupled with the disturbing practice in the world of government contracting of “renegotiating contracts” after they are awarded based on “unforeseen costs and technical issues”. In many cases the government is driven to renegotiate a contract because of the importance of the work that needs to be performed. A living example of this occurred during the recent budget battle to save us from committing mass suicide. The budget bill passed by congress and signed by the president on Thursday includes a provision that increases the authorization for the Olmsted Lock in Kentucky from $775 million to nearly $3 billion. Did any of our esteem journalists who seem to worry more about selling their latest book than bringing us valuable information, research why we needed to provide more funding for this project, who the contractor is, and what are the real reasons why a 1988 project continues to be funded now with a completion date of 2024 for the entire project? Are there schedule and technical issues that the taxpayer needs to know about?
Even more insidious is “Selling and Keeping Sold” government contracts. This is the practice of winning a government contract and keeping it sold well beyond the original termination date by convincing the government to add additional functionality to the original requirements. Government contractors as with other companies must meet Wall Street expectations. Does this mean that desperate times call for desperate measures? Who knows?
The world of government contracting is awash in contract overruns that are costing the taxpayer inordinate sums of money. You would think that during this next round of budget negotiations that we will finally bring to light these activities rather than focusing on food stamps and Medicaid. We need our media to help shine the light but I’m uncertain if they are up to the task or even capable as evident in the childish rants about the Obamacare website. It is time for the media to start focusing on “Root Causes” and not Symptoms.
Or, are we dealing with a media based on “Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable”?