Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Prime Vendors Take Prime Cuts

In the February 2007 Readers Digest, Sacha Zimmerman has penned the article Your Money for This? In this article Sacha delineates the outrages allowed to occur within the defense Prime Vendor program. The Prime Vendor program was initiated by the Defense Logistics Agency in response to the abuses reported in the previous spending programs in the defense agencies that resulted in the infamous $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers of yesteryear.

In this article such outrages as $20 plastic ice trays (99 cents for you and I), $1,000 hotplates (last years $450 specials, less than $200 for you and I) and $22,797 mini-refrigerators (similar if not exact matches to the $99 Kmart specials), and these are just a few examples of the outrageous prices charged by the vendors in the Prime Vendor program. It seems whenever one of these defense vendors gets a monopoly they can’t resist bilking the government out of everything they can, and the government allows it! If they are overcharging this much for minor items one has to wonder how much we are being raped for the guns, bombs and other “real” defense hardware. Perhaps we should put the controls in the hands of Walmart with bonuses designated by how much they save us on these bulk purchases based on amount paid below an average retail price.

I believe it is time for a civilian oversight committee, appointed by a lottery system, who is charged with periodic, random overviews of non-security defense purchases. Participants would serve for a term of a year during which time they would be paid the same salary with the same benefits of their civilian job and their civilian job would be guaranteed during that time period to be held for them. All reasonable expenses to perform the required audits would be covered.

If the oversight committee finds that these prime vendors have charged more than a specified amount above the average price for the items they provide, the prime vendors are immediately dropped from the program and are prohibited from participating in government contracts for a period of years, say 5. In addition, if any member of the oversight committee is found to be taking kick-backs, payoffs or bribes of any sort from any prime vendor or prime vendor alternate, then both the committee member and the CEO or president of the company that bribed or otherwise enticed them would be sentenced to a prison sentence of at least 5 years with no chance of parole.

It is time the congressmen and senators that allow and condone these billing practices have the controls removed from their well greased hands and us poor dumb civilians given more of a say into how our money is spent.


Noons said...

HEre is some more food for thought.

I think it's high time as well that governments who insist in operating as businesses - with taxpayers money, who can't? - are actually subjected to ALL rules of business.

How about offshoring some of the government departments that are notorious bad managers of public moneys?

What, it works for private business but won't work for governments?
Well, it ain't a business then, is it?

So, let's drop the charades and do the right thing: make governments truly accountable for their gross mismanagement of public money.

The first step is exactly what you propose.

Mike said...

Good points Noons!


Richard said...

It's not just defence (UK spelling!):

The UK won the Olympic hosting battle less than 2 years ago, with a proposed total cost of approx. 2.4 bn UK pounds (approx. 5 bn US dollars)... it's now rocketed to nearly four times that! We have a national lottery, supposedly to help fund various "good causes"... whoops! It's being raided, now, to help pay for the Olypics! Your idea of public oversight committess is a good one. You'd think that such rip-offs, pitifully poor management, and blatent theft may be the order of the day in far-flung tin-pot dictatorships... think again, we in the "civilized" West are no better.