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Old 11-16-2008   #1
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default Government Contracting Culture

Recently found this interesting report (link below) by the New America Foundation regarding ideas to change the culture of Pentagon contacting. Nothing drastically new per se, but some interesting thoughts and facts are included.

New America Foundation- www.newamerica.net

Report on Pentagon Contacting Culture-http://www.newamerica.net/files/Chan...ontracting.pdf
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Old 11-17-2008   #2
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I've got lots of problems with that paper, but I'll just choose one...

Quote:
All second lieutenants should be instructed in the role of contractors on the battlefield and their role in managing those contractors. They should learn how to deal with specific problems that may arise during the lifecycle of a contract, with particular focus on the prevention of contractor fraud, waste, and abuse.
This strikes me as absurd on its face. I think the authors are either unaware - or once knew but forgot - of the level of understanding that most 2LTs have about the workings of the military, when in OBC. It is not that 2LTs are dumb or unteachable, but there is a certain level of experience that is needed before one understands administrative details. My IOBC class had 250 2LTs and not one of us understood what on Earth was being taught to us during our 3 days of ULLS training. We simply had no experience to put it in context. Quite frankly, I did not understand it until I was a few months into my XO job. I can quite easily visualize the same blank stares from a sea of 2LTs during a 1-hour, 3-hour, or 3-day period of instruction on contractors on the battlefield.

While the nature of contractor interaction may be a bit of a stretch for a 2LT fresh out of college to relate to, the fraud, waste, and abuse issue seems to be so simple as to not need a specific focus to relate it to any particular topic, such as contractors. I share the authors' concern about fraud, waste, and abuse, but I did not need a period of instruction regarding contractors to identify or report it (to no avail). A small dose of common sense was sufficient for me to recognize that places like LSA Anaconda and the "Green Zone" are large monuments to fraud, waste, and abuse, perpetrated by contractors, but done so at the direction of, and with the blessings of, the military. If you want to crack down on fraud, waste, and abuse, then leaders need to take basic leadership training more seriously. It is a simple issue of leadership, or lack thereof, when you've got fraud, waste, and abuse all around you and you're not reporting it. People already know that it is wrong - they don't need a course about contractors to remind them of it. They need some kind of impetus - perhaps a boot - to fix it, rather than walking past the deficiencies, walking into the deficiencies, and then getting a giant heap of Baskin Robbins ice cream AT the deficiency.

The folks who wrote this paper seem to have gotten so focused on their issue that they convinced themselves that the issue is of a much more pressing and dire need than it really is, leading them to make such recommendations as creating new staff billets from the Joint Chiefs all the way down to the battalion level and creating new training requirements from OBC, onward. They do acknowledge that this sounds rather extreme, but they do a weak job, in my opinion, of justifying why it should nonetheless be implemented. My impression is that the reader is expected to share their level of concern and, therefore, to also support their recommendations, which are only justified by the perceived urgency of the problem, rather than by a clear explanation of why the recommendations are necessary.

Last edited by Schmedlap; 11-17-2008 at 03:03 AM. Reason: Missspelling
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Old 11-17-2008   #3
dcs0311
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Default Well Said

As a guy looking to lateral move out of academia into defense contracting in FCS, I think your words speak volumes. This should be an interesting adventure when the interviews start!

Semper Fi,
Chris

P.S. I'm a new registrant here, you're my first posted reply. Merry Christmas, have a beer....
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Old 11-17-2008   #4
Ken White
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Default Welcome aboard.

Good luck on that switch. Why not go here LINK and scroll up a few comments to get an idea what others have said and then tell us a little about your background and self. Breaks the ice well...

Again welcome.

P.S.

Thanks for helping jcustis out on the other thread...

Ken
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Old 11-19-2008   #5
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default Thanks for the insight

Schmedlap - I appreciate your perspective regarding the suggestion of adding contractor-management specific training to officer PME. Do you think the addition of a "contracting career field" will have any positive impact on the situation, or would this just be adding additional layers of bureaucracy in uniform? I strongly agree with your statements regarding the tone of the argument (urgency vs. necessity.) May I inquire as to what other problems you have with the paper?

Anyone care to comment on any of the other proposals? Such as the feasibility of transitioning away from security contractors to the DSS and MPs and the proposal to use the FBI as an enforcement arm vs. CID, OSI, etc?
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Old 11-19-2008   #6
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Default I can foresee some problems with their recommendations.

On the use of DSS and MPs for security: DSS employees are civil service, once hired they are almost impossible to get rid of and Congress does not like to cut spaces; thus given a relaxed security requirement -- which will occur (as everything goes in cycles) -- the USG would have yo pay for far more security than it needed. MPs could not be used in many locales due to their military affiliation and the Army is generally short of MPs in any event. The benefit of contractors is that their numbers can be swelled to meet a need and those numbers can be reduced when that need disappears.

They suggest:
Quote:
"Move away from reliance on the flawed and widely misunderstood term “inherently governmental” in deciding how and when to use private contractors, and instead focus on the issue of core competencies and mission success..."
Excellent idea. But.
Quote:
"...Congress should identify red-lined activities that must not be outsourced and require the military to maintain a “resident capacity” for any function it outsources, particularly as it relates to the ability to conduct proper contractual oversight.
Congress is not best suited to do that; they have to and will respond to lobbyists and vested interests.

The services investigatory arms, CID, ONI, OSI and DoD already have contract audit, complinace and investigatory powers, they generally work well, understand the requirements and they are able to call on the FBI when needed. The FBI does some things well, some not at all well. It has a bad habit of overdoing investigations; more importantly, it has plenty on its plate right now plus it does not know or understand the environment or requiremnts as an in-house organ does. I could make a strong case for the fact that it is doing many more things than it should be doing but that is irrlevant -- it has been tasked to do them. I guess the thing that strikes me about this is the old saw; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This aspect is not broken, the current system works.
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Old 11-19-2008   #7
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Default

CALL just put out Handbook-08-47 Deployed COR on unlimited public distribution. You can download a copy of it here within the next couple of days (I asked HQs to put a download link up for it along with the other public products that are listed there for download)


Best

Tom
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Old 11-19-2008   #8
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default What if it is perceived by policy makers to be broken?

Ken - Your analysis regarding the use of DSS/MP is spot on. (Though a minor correction, DSS is largely foreign service.) My question is whether or not political backlash against PMCs will make their continued use unfeasible, despite the cost efficiency? If memory serves correct, Sen. Clinton wished to abolish their use all together, and she appears to be the current front runner for the Sec. State gig.

I found it curious that the FBI was suggested vs improved capability of DoD, NCIS, CID, OSI, etc. Was the suggestion of increasing FBI capability in this area driven out of ignorance of DoD capabilities or was it intentional?

I appreciate the feedback from everyone. Though I have as of yet no experience related to any of this, I am currently in the pipeline with one of the above listed acronyms and have been told it is an important issue to familiarize myself with.
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Old 11-19-2008   #9
Ken White
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Default True,

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidvsTheWorld View Post
Ken - Your analysis regarding the use of DSS/MP is spot on. (Though a minor correction, DSS is largely foreign service.)
it is a mix; all government employees so the premise of once hired = around for years, needed or not, still holds.
Quote:
My question is whether or not political backlash against PMCs will make their continued use unfeasible, despite the cost efficiency? If memory serves correct, Sen. Clinton wished to abolish their use all together, and she appears to be the current front runner for the Sec. State gig.
Hard to say; the Democrats will want to maximize the governmental aspect (to include adding Union members as in AFGE and AFSA); who knows what the Republicans will / would do. Could go either way...
Quote:
I found it curious that the FBI was suggested vs improved capability of DoD, NCIS, CID, OSI, etc. Was the suggestion of increasing FBI capability in this area driven out of ignorance of DoD capabilities or was it intentional?
I suspect some of both with more emphasis on the latter as a desired increase in 'civilian' oversight.

Good luck...

Last edited by Ken White; 11-19-2008 at 06:04 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-19-2008   #10
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default Not Not Picking

Mr. White - I apologize if it appeared as if I were nit picking. In fact, the point I was attempting to make in stating much of DSS is foreign service is that it would possibly be even more difficult to downsize than if they were civil service. I imagine eliminating foreign service positions (FSOs or not) is about as attractive and easy for State as it is for the AF to cut pilot slots.
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Old 11-19-2008   #11
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Default Go DSS

Iwould say that I am all in favor expanding the DSS. Of course this because I discovered them about three days ago while looking up the difference between 68x MH specialist and 31B MP on the Army COOL site and have decided that as soon as complete my undergrad I will apply for a DSS agent position. On the realistic side, the feds can't even fund the Federal Protective Service after it should have become a priority post 9/11, so I don't see how we could expand the DSS to meet current needs. My suggestion for positive reform for the Personal Protective Service mission would be to have individual contractors available for missions with the government providing equipment and train-up. Not cheap, but cheaper then PMC's and higher likelihood of low-key presence and professional behavior in the field.
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Old 11-20-2008   #12
Ken White
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Default I know, didn't mean to sound snippy...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidvsTheWorld View Post
Mr. White - I apologize if it appeared as if I were nit picking. In fact, the point I was attempting to make in stating much of DSS is foreign service is that it would possibly be even more difficult to downsize than if they were civil service. I imagine eliminating foreign service positions (FSOs or not) is about as attractive and easy for State as it is for the AF to cut pilot slots.
True dat. Only prob with FSOs is getting 'em to go where needed instead of where they want to go...

Tongue in cheek that. While it does apply to a few, the majority are good hard working folks who DO go where they're needed and put up with a lot in the process. I've worked with a bunch, here and there. As is true in any endeavor, about 10% are worthless prima donnas, the good 20% do 80% of the work and most of 'em are good people.
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Old 11-20-2008   #13
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Last time I checked DSS--2007 when their academy director was here; I worked with him in Africa--are not rated as FSOs and fall under the civil service side, not the FS side of State. Has to do with their assignment patterns. The first assignments are typically stateside as security investigators for clearances, then on proyective details, and later as Embasst assistant regional security officers and RSOs. Can be a good to great job. My experience with them is they are for the most part cops. And as a non-FSO element of an FS dominated agency, they are looked upon as red headed step children. Like any outfit most are good professionals and some are not. I have run into both but mainly the former. Stan has some insights as well.

Tom
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Old 11-20-2008   #14
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default Off on a tangent...

Since this is virtually the only area within this thread with which I can claim any level of knowledge or expertise, I figured I would go ahead and add/clarify to Mr. Odom's post.

Within the Department of State you have the Foreign Service and the Civil Service. The Foreign Service is divided between Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and Foreign Service Specialists. Most (but not all) DSS agents are Foreign Service Specialists. Foreign Service Officers are the "Diplomats," and specialize in several different cones. Foreign Service Specialists, besides DSS agents, include such careers as health pracitioners, engineers, communications specialists, etc.

Most DSS agents have an OPM code of 2501. Series 2501 agents typically follow the career path outlined by Mr. Odom, with the workload being skewed towards protection work as opposed to criminal investigations. The non-2501DSS agents are coded 1811, which is the same as most federal criminal investigators in other agencies (DEA, FBI, etc.) DSS 1811s do protection work but are intended to focus on investigations. DSS 1811s also fall under the Civil Service as opposed to the Foreign Service.

The differences might seem superficial, but keem in mind DSS 2501s are on the same pay scale, etc. as FSOs and the rest of those in the Foreign Service while the 1811s are on the Civil Service schedule. Additionally, career development and tenure benchmarks are different between the two. 2501s are expected to learn a language at some point in their career, 1801s are not.

Can't comment on the "red headed step children" remark. DSS appears to have a reputation for professionalism.

Why all this matters to the original discussion is that ultimately these guys carry guns and consequentially there will likely be resistance by DoS to increase numbers dramatically. Furthermore, DSS seems to have fairly high standards when it comes to hiring agents. Without lowering standards, they might be hard pressed to increase their size to meet the objective of replacing all contractors. This, combined with Mr. White's previous points outline why it is better to retain the services of the contractors. As far as reed11b's comments go, I have no knowledge of the feasibility of the suggestion.

Here is a link to the State Department Foreign Service Specialist employment site in case anyone is interested in learning more about the differences between the employment categories of the State Department: http://careers.state.gov/specialist/employment.html
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Old 11-20-2008   #15
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Quote:
Can't comment on the "red headed step children" remark. DSS appears to have a reputation for professionalism.
David,

That remark is about standard FSO attitudes towards RSOs; the same tendencies are shown with regards to GSOs and communicators. All part of State's inner culture--rather similar to pilots and non-pilots in the Air Force.

Standards are high indeed in the DSS. As an outsider with freinds in the DSS, there is a sense of confusion/wannabe something else that emerges when you talk to DSS types.

Some--not all---seem to want to be more than a security specialist; the worst tend to want to get involved as intelligence operators as in generating intelligence when they are intelligence consumers.

Others are so focused on the primary mission--protection--that they ignore the political situation. A very close friend of mine who had dual security duties with the DSS and Blackwater types in Baghdad said this showed in their overly aggressive tactics--and yes he was there when the Blackwater shooting that caused such a stir broke out. To their credit DSS recognized that contract standards were going to have to be enforced in the field afterwards.

It is a difficult job and they do it well.

Tom
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Old 11-21-2008   #16
DavidvsTheWorld
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Default State Contract Standards

Mr. Odom - What do you think some of the positive improvements to contract standard enforcement which State has made? What do you think are some areas in which they might improve?

Why do you think "some" of "the worst" tend to want to be collectors? Is this a common trend? Any theories as to why this is the case, or why the occupational confusion?

I also sent you a PM with some follow up.
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Old 11-21-2008   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidvsTheWorld View Post
Mr. Odom - What do you think some of the positive improvements to contract standard enforcement which State has made? What do you think are some areas in which they might improve?

Why do you think "some" of "the worst" tend to want to be collectors? Is this a common trend? Any theories as to why this is the case, or why the occupational confusion?

I also sent you a PM with some follow up.
the main thing on the contract standards was the decision that DSS would have a supervising agent riding at least periodically along with more stringent certification of ROE. the other thing was a greater emphasis on context as in situational awareness and understanding, notably so protective details would not do the road warrior run and run over everyone when in unnecessary.

On the collector thing, I always saw it as a macho man complex--wannabe agency or whatever or just want to show off. DSS is not the only agency subject to the "cowboy" complex. I had a fellow DATT who was supposed to be low key out in Goma demanding his "Israeli LBE" and a US flag for his truck. I told if he needed LBE or a US flag, he was f+$#ING up. Turned out he was and he went home.

Tom
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