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By Nick Wakeman

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A reader responds

I wanted to pass along this e-mail I received in response to an article on the Army's Contracting Center of Excellence.

The Government Accountability Office was critical of the Army for the way it uses contractors to manage contracts. The report doesn't say no contractors should be used, only that the Army hasn't thought strategically about how they are being used. One response from the Defense Department was to promise to stop using these contractors within 180 days.

Here is the e-mail:

What a shame relative to Shay Assad's knee jerk reaction to the use of support contractors as contract specialist.

I used many contract support personnel in this role (most were retired federal contracting officers - many retired from DOD) when I was the director of the Pentagon Renovation Program Office and in the recovery of the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

These support contractors simply supplemented the government contracting officers and never performed the inherently govermental functions of a contracting officer. But they did bring a wealth of experience and talent to the team. I don't believe we would have accomplished the recovery effort in the expedious manner we did without them.

The first question relative to Shay Assad's mandate of removing these people is where is he going to get good people to replace the support contractors he is displacing?

I can tell you from 3 years of consulting and training across the federal govenment since my retirement after 38 years of federal service is they are just not there. This means even more work for the "good" contracting people in the already understaffed organizations.

Thanks,
Mike Sullivan
Former Director (SES-03)
Pentagon Renovation Program Office
Currently Principal, Sullivan Management and Consulting, LLC

Mike -- Thanks for the comments and the food for thought. This is a serious problem in the government and the rhetoric of "fire all the contractors" isn't going to make our government run better. -- Nick

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 31, 2008 at 7:22 PM


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