Government Contracts: Pork Barrels of Fun

Government contracts have made multimillionaires out of many people. The process has become insanely complicated. In many ways, it is yet another example of political correctness gone wild. My experience with government contracting began close to a half century ago. I was a newly commissioned second lieutenant and needed a new radio system to allow me to communicate with my EOD teams. My unit was responsible for three states. (Police bomb disposal units were rare in those days and Army EOD units spent a lot of time supporting local PDs.) I had to fill out a one page form, let the contracting section put it out to bid, and a month later Motorola was installing my radios.

Pork BarrelThe contracting procedures are infinitely more complicated nowadays. Congress (you do realize they know what’s “best for us” (sic)) slowly but surely created a byzantine labyrinth of extremely complicated, rules, processes, systems and pricing. Contracting has become a ridiculously silly way of buying what you need if you work for the government. You generally acquire substandard, overpriced equipment along with poor service providers.

The government system does its best to suppress common sense.

There are so many ridiculous problems; it is hard to pick one that is the dumbest.

A contender is the “set aside” rule. Congress loves pork barrel spending. The website freedictionary.com defines pork barrel spending as, “A bill or project requiring significant government spending in a locality to the benefit of the legislature’s constituents.” Former Alaskan Senator (now deceased) Ted Stevens was a master at pork barrel politics. Years ago, he inserted a provision in a bill that allowed the Government to sole source contracts to companies owned by Alaska Native American tribes. This ethnic group, literally overnight, became the most sought after subcontracting entity in existence.

Sole sourcing means that you do not need to put a contract out to bid. As a government employee, I considered sole sourcing a godsend as it saved me months, sometimes literally years, of going through the contracting nightmare to get something done as simple as buying an armored car.

Of course, whether or not Alaskan Native Americans sold armored cars, or knew anything about them, made no difference. I could be sure that some company that did would be smart enough to “team” with the Alaskan company and provide the car. The company would provide the knowledge and expertise. The Native American Alaskan Company would allow the other company to use their name, and get paid handsomely for it.

This sort of nonsense makes a mockery of the contracting system. It does nothing to help the Alaskan company learn about how to work with the Government. Sure, the government has a program called “mentoring” where a larger company can mentor a smaller one, and by doing so get preferential treatment on contracts. The reality is no one really does much mentoring; they do it to obtain a contract. Neither side really expects any mentoring.

I have not even touched upon the other “special treatment” groups like women-owned or Native American (not Alaskan Native American; Senator Stevens took care of them better than most) and others. I will save that for another rant.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Bill Gaskill

Mr. Gaskill has over 20 years of extensive international experience with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, followed by 10+ years in the corporate sector.During his career at State, he developed and led comprehensive security programs in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.He was Chief of Security at five U.S. Embassies:Tel Aviv, Athens, Lima, Nicosia and Lome.He has worked in more than 144 countries and has an extensive network of global contacts.His areas of professional expertise include risk assessments, physical security, access control, guard force operations and management, counter terrorism, investigations, foreign security liaison, personal protection and Emergency Plans and Preparations.

As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.

As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.

Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.

Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.
Bill Gaskill
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