9:54 pm, May 22, 2015

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  • Good intentions often run into problems
    The removal of duplicative programs sounds nice but has run into problems in Congress before. DoD has attempted to do this and been shot down by Congress more than once. This bill proposes forming an office to study "all government processes" to determine what stays and what goes. But all they will be able to do is ask Congress to take action, and we have seen what that accomplishes. The next seems the most ridiculous. Ignoring inflation doesn't make it go away. Salaries, fuel prices, office rent, contractors, and so on cost more every year. Ignoring this fact doesn't make it stop. Making agencies jump through more hoops for money just increases overhead costs. It doesn't reduce the cost of doing business. Buying in bulk sounds good, but look what happened to DHS when they tried it for purchasing bullets in bulk. Also, decentralized purchasing is often done to support local economies. Bulk purchasing also increases the requirement for warehouse space that requires more costs for security, inventory control, air conditioning, billing, and so on. Video conferencing doesn't replace face to face meetings. It also isn't free. Video conferencing infrastructure costs money, it also requires maintenance. Upgrading systems across the government would require a significant investment in infrastructure and bandwidth for many offices. It also tends to fragment and isolate agencies. No budget, no pay may sound good, but it runs into Constitutional issues. The previous bill only required a token bill to be passed by one house of Congress and at worst deferred pay, it didn't cut it. Besides, for a group that only gains a fraction of their income from salary, this would have a marginal impact. A two year budget cycle makes more sense. It would help to avoid the end of year contract award crunch and save on some overtime and sloppy contracting. With funding coming late in the fiscal year and a 6 month minimum for awarding large purchases, it has made the end of year crunch particularly chaotic and wasteful. As for ordering DoD and the VA to get their act together, it is still easier said than done. You are talking about massive amounts of data. Whole lifetimes of medical records that are still often only in hard copy. This would be at best a long term savings effort with short term costs. Government agencies already have programs in place to implement energy savings. They have payback requirements to justify them. If you want them paid for with future savings, Congress will likely have to provide some up front money or offer some other incentive for contractors to participate. Few contractors can afford to renovate whole offices based on potential future payment. They also can't afford to rely on the Federal government to follow through. This could significantly increase long term operating costs, if you can find someone willing to do it. Finally, another "bipartisan coalition" to study something. With no guarantee something will be done, all I see is more people on the payroll spinning their wheels. More people pointing out the obvious so Congress can fight over it. If Congress can't do the simple things, appointing other to do it for them won't work either. Sorry for the long rant, but there was a lot of stuff presented. I understand the idea behind these efforts and applaud the effort, but this isn't the first time these have come up and been shot down. Most federal agencies can find their own waste easily enough. They just need the freedom to get rid of it themselves. Congress is unwilling to allow this, so they do something else to make it seem they are being productive.
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  • Get rid of conflicts of interests 1st, then the rest is easier
    Honest Broker
    Why does each military service have one or more engineering commands? It keeps the process more confusing and duplication means more money. No adding, no padding sounds great if we stick to fixed price contracts but everyone is using cost plus fixed fee for all their outsourced labor like cyber security. Buying in bulk delays orders to the point that the technology ordered has been outpaced. Why not try a Govt Amazon like bid site for IT and other electronics? Buy smart and save, so you would use the most cost effective labor solution. The 2011 POGO.ORG Bad Business report found contract labor 2 to 5 times more expensive. Why are we not insourcing? As for VTC, all for it. We have too many people wasting time and money traveling unnecessarily including the contractors. No budge, no pay for the politicians sounds great. What are the loop holes? About time with the electronic health records, but too many contractors in the middle. Consolidate to 1 Govt engineering shop and let them decide if to insource or outsource. The 1st step in more efficient and effective Govt is remove the conflicts of interest, but with the decades of corruption that may be too hard to achieve but let us hope it happens.
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