Today's Wall Street Journal published a letter from Raj Sharma, whose name you might have seen on Spend Matters and Public Spend Forum. The letter was in response to an earlier op-ed criticizing the concept of "fairness" in government contracting." Raj seconded the sentiment, arguing that the point of public procurement ought to be ensuring the best value for taxpayers.
As Raj writes:
"I second the points raised by William Greenwalt ("The Lunacy of 'Fairness' in Government Contracting," op-ed, Oct. 16). By our estimates, approximately $1.9 trillion is spent by local, state and federal governments on public-sector procurement each year. Layers upon layers of regulations have been created to ensure that this enormous amount of taxpayer money is spent effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, neither is true.
Instead, we have created a system that is unattractive to the best suppliers. Just like the best candidates have many options for jobs, the best suppliers have many alternatives outside of government to take their products. The ultimate impact is a loss of competition and loss of capabilities that are so direly needed to solve the many complex challenges government takes on. From an efficiency standpoint, the government procurement process in most cases is long, bureaucratic and creates barriers to entry, as described by Mr. Greenwalt. At a time when government is taking on more complex policy challenges like health-care reform and clean energy, we need to reframe the notion of competition to create an acquisition system that facilitates relationships with the most innovative and capable supplies for any given need..."
We're all taxpayers here. Do you agree? Disagree? Pop over to the online WSJ to read Raj's letter in its entirety.