US Government Procurement: Diagram the Workflow: How Many Arrows Point Fingers?

December 8, 2021

I want to keep this short. For a number of years, I have pointed out that current Federal procurement procedures and the policies the steps are supposed to implement create some issues. I like to mention procurement time for advanced software. By the time the procurement goes through the RFQ, the RFP, the proposal evaluation, the selection, the little meeting at which losers express their concerns, and the award — the advanced technology is often old technology. Another issue is the importance of marketing hoo hah which often leads the Federal government to purchase products and services which are different from that which was described in the PowerPoint presentations and the proposals. There are other interesting characteristics of the process; for example, coffee chats with senators, nice lunches with important people who may pop up on a cable TV talking head program, or good old friendship from a college social group. Ah, yes. Procurement.

US Government Agencies Bought Chinese Surveillance Tech Despite Federal Ban” is a collection of some procurement anecdotes. Interesting? Not particularly. Why? There are no consequences for buying products and services from vendors who should not be eligible for US government contracts. The article focuses on Chinese related missteps. The explanations are crafted to avoid getting anyone in legal hot water.

Net net: I worked in DC starting in the early 1970s. How much has changed in the last 50 years. Not much. China is nemesis but China was a bit of a nemesis 50 years ago. The FARs have been updated. Nevertheless, some interesting purchases have been made over the years. Where’s the Golden Fleece Award now? Are there some unwanted and unloved tanks parked somewhere? What about certain air superiority systems which experience more downtime than a second hand taxi purchased from a shady character in Mexico City. Yes, procurement and some proud moments. Why not fire up that TikTok and ignore the useful data hosed back to certain servers?

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2021

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