Submitted By Todd on February 9th at 12:30pm
The Obama administration's economic stimulus plan could end up wasting billions of dollars by attempting to spend money faster than an overburdened government acquisition system can manage and oversee it, according to documents and interviews with contracting specialists.People like to call the legislative process sausage making, but I've seen sausages being made, and it doesn't begin to approach being this ugly. One of the things we learn from watching Congress is that the group process is one that yields poor results, especially when the situation is viewed as being urgent.
The government's mounting procurement problems can be traced to the Clinton and Bush administrations. Both decided to rely far more on the private sector for technology, personnel and other services, greatly increasing the value and complexity of the contracts. At the same time, the personnel that awarded and oversaw that work was reduced in the 1990s in efforts to downsize the government.So we don't have the infrastructure in place to absorb the increased demand, the theory goes. Imagine if you go to a manufacturer that makes 1000 widgets a year, and give them a purchase order for 100,000 widgets. One can assume it will take them some substantial period of time to build the capacity.
Some specialists said it appears the government is poised to make the same sorts of mistakes it made after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The specialists say there is no systematic way to know how much of the contracting work has been done, even on the shovel-ready projects.Which is another reason why tax cuts, or consumer spending incentives, seem to make more sense for getting money into the economy, quickly. Remember, 70% of our GDP is consumer spending.
"We don't have the means to make sure we don't blow through billions of dollars and give it to the wrong people," said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. "We're on track to lose billions, if not tens of billions, to waste, fraud and abuse."