A couple of recent articles caught my attention today:
2010 budget plan would increase procurement officers’ ranks and Panel: DOD needs experienced procurement people

Here is the quick summary:
A joint panel of defense experts lead by Jacques Gansler (former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics) on March 3rd, told a Senate committee that the procurement and acquisition workforce is undervalued and underpaid. They then elaborate to say that there is little to no opportunity for advancement for federal employees to advance into senior positions. The argument is simply that employees do not care and receive no motivation to move projects along quickly, on-time or within budget.

Digging in a little deeper, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag proposed a huge one-time increase in discretionary spending to hire new employees. He is asking for a budget increase of 18% next year, and then will go back to "typical" budget increases of 1/10th of a percent for each year moving forward. Republicans are arguing that it is unrealistic to think that an entire federal department's budget could increase so significantly in one year and then absorb a huge decrease the following year.

Having spent a portion of my career as a consultant developing best practices in the procurement of commercial-off-the-shelf systems for the Department of Defense, I can most certainly say that the answer is not just to hire new employees. In fact, I worked with a few resources in DC that were able to absorb much more work than they already were handling. The reason that they opted not to, was not out of lack-of-care or laziness, more so that the bureaucracy of their positions did not allow them to work outside of their assigned responsibilities. In my brief term consulting with the government, I met literally dozens of people that held identical positions doing identical redundant tasks, though for different departments or branches of the armed services.

So instead of hiring more resources, lets focus on using the resouces we have more effectively. Rather than request huge budget increases, they should look at consolidating positions and implementing better, more efficient systems, that will then free up a portion of the existing budget. That portion of the budget that gets freed up can then be used to create a new level of true management (not just people with titles) that will provide the career advancement opportunities that should be sought out by good people. The rest of the funds can be used for bonuses and other incentives to encourage the best of the group to perform to their best ability, and help to attract new talent.
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William Dorn

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