And You Thought FEMA's Boss Was Under Qualified …

Now, I don't claim to be an expert in government procurement. I've got better things to do -- like biting my nails -- than sitting down and committing the Federal Acquisition Regulations (the FAR) to memory. But when I hear about Federal Spend Management behavior that would not fly in the private sector, my ears perk up. There's nothing like a tax-payer funded scandal to get me riled up. And it doesn't take much. For instance, consider the statement in a recent issue of GovExec that as of last summer, around the time of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had only 36 contracting professionals all of whom "were not necessarily trained well in contingency contracting ... people had little knowledge of what contract vehicles were already in place at different agencies that could have been used to quickly buy supplies for areas affected by the hurricane." Not to sound like Bill O'Reilly, but isn't it painfully obvious that an agency whose job is to respond to crisis situations should have its entire procurement organization trained in emergency purchasing? And for those from the US who are reading this, it should give us all pause that to know that the FAR is "extremely flexible". How flexible? According to GovExec, "flexible to the point that FEMA was able to award three contracts with a ceiling of $500 million, verbally," during Katrina. At least government red tape is one the wane! Heck, perhaps the UN procurement group could learn something (scroll down for post) from the flexibility of FEMA's trusty contracting professionals. Why not put them on Kofi's payroll ...

Jason Busch

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