Death to fee-for-services?
I’ve got a little bald spot on the side of my head because I’ve been scratching my head since I read my colleague’s blog about assisted acquisition services.
In his Acquisitive Mind blog
, Matthew Weigelt recounted testimony by Office of Management and Budget official Jeffrey Zients that agencies should not charge fees when they help other agencies get contracts.
Zients went so far as to call it bizarre.
Sen Claire McCaskill, (D-Mo.) chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Contracting Oversight Subcommittee was right there with him.
“One agency was advertising, ‘Buy your stuff here,’ to another federal agency because they were getting a cut because of the contract they had,” McCaskill said. “Well, there’s something very wrong about that — just fundamentally wrong.”
The belief is that they are all part of the government and therefore on the same “team.”
Apparently McCaskill is particularly bothered by the Interior Department’s Acquisition Services Directorate and the now closed FedSource, which was operated by the Treasury Department.
But the same logic can extend to any government organization that charges fees for providing a service. Who will they go after next? Will the General Services Administration start doing their work for free? What about the fees the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center charges for the service it provides? Aren’t they all part of the same government team?
It just doesn’t make sense to me. The government is short of acquisition and contract officials, particularly ones who have the skills and experience to manage complex procurements, so why start bad mouthing organizations that providing a vital service?
The comments from Zients also seem to contradict the push by the Barack Obama Administration of trying to get government to work smarter and more efficiently. The comments undermine the principles of competition. Competition, whether among contractors or government agencies, is the best tool for fostering efficiency.
I’ll try to stop scratching now.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 30, 2009 at 9:53 AM