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The Gross National Debt

Monday, October 10, 2005

There has been such a malestrom brewing around members of the Republican party lately that the indictment of David Safavian flew very low under the radar screen. It's a big indictment for a man who held a powerful position of influence within the Federal Government.

Safavian has a long background as a lawyer, Congressional staffer, lobbyist and public servant. His last job was a biggie - Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget. Any reasonable person can work backwards and understand from his title that Safavian was a muckety-muck in the area of procurement. I don't think those outside of the Washington beltway, however, understand exactly how muckety-muck he was.

As the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Safavian serves as the Chairman of the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council, the Chairman of the Cost Accounting Standards Board, the Chairman of the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, and Member of the Board of Visitors for the Defense Acquisition University. Let's break that down to see what it means.

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FARC) is charged with the direction and coordination of Government-wide procurement policy and Government-wide procurement regulatory activities. It consists of the Administrator (Safavian), the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of NASA, and the Administrator of GSA. It helps set the rules and regulations by which Government entities procure goods and services as well as how contracting and procurement activities are regulated and monitored. (source)

The Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB), in a nutshell, lays out mandatory standards that all Federal entities, contractors and subcontractors must follow estimating and reporting costs for negotiated prime and subcontracts with the United States that exceeds $500,000. CASB consists of four members: the procurement Administrator (Safavian), the director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, a Vice President from Lockheed Martin, and the Assistant Inspector General for Auditing of the General Services Administration. (source)

The Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) has a broad membership of acquisition professionals from across government. Their primary charter is to improve the Federal acquisition process to make sure that effective business practices promote the timely delivery of products and services to the government and that those products achieve public policy objective. (source)

You should be getting the idea here that Safavian was in a role of high public trust whose duties influenced virtually every aspect of how the government spends money, tracks the money and holds accountable the officials responsible for awarding government contracts as well as the contractors who receive the awards. LOTS of room for jerrymandering. For our so-called CEO President, Safavian was the equivalent of the Chief Financial Officer for a multinational conglomerate.

One of Bush's first big moves as President was to introduce the President's Management Agenda (PMA). I won't drag you through the pages and pages of the document itself. Suffice it to say that the PMA, introduced during the summer of 2001, was Bush's first official act as the new CEO President designed to substantially improve the way the government is managed. It lays out five key criterial on which government management will be evaluated:

  • Human Capital
  • Competitive Sourcing
  • Financial Performance
  • E-Government
  • Budget/Performance Integration

Speaking in broadly oversimplified terms, Federal agencies and bureaus and offices within those agencies are evaluated around certain criteria in an effort to determine how that agency performs, overall, in one of the five areas. The way an agency knows how it is doing is that it is assigned a color code - red for unsatisfactory results, yellow for mixed results, and green for successful results (yes, I know - this should have been an indication of a preference for color when evaluating anything).

The issue of competitive sourcing is hotly controversial within the Federal government. It basically asserts that Federal government employees are doing work that should be competed within the private sector. It is essentially a question of "outsourcing" Federal jobs to the private sector. Naturally, the Federal employee's union (AFGE) hasn't been too keen on the idea of competitive sourcing. Second, there are a host of complications to outsourcing government jobs - questions of accountability and public trust, for starters. Because it is a criteria on which government managers and agencies are measured, it is also one which has implications for Federal management compensation.

Safavian was charged with oversight of the entire program.

So... He helped set acqusitions policies, procedures and accountability; he helped set rules of goverment accountantcy; he helped guide the practice of government acquisition; and he oversaw whether or not a Federal entity was effectively competiting enough of its jobs and functions.

The fact that this man, placed in a position of high trust, has been indicted around the whole Abramoff investigation is incomprehensible. I can't believe that it has slipped so far under the radar screen, but I suppose it's just too much of an inside-the-beltway issue for the rest of America to understand. Suffice it to say that his ethics and alleged criminal behavior muddy an already murky picture of government contracts awarded and administered during the Bush Administration.

These guys are so dirty I want to take a shower after writing this.

posted by RenaRF at 10:34 AM 1 comments links to this post


Blogger NYBri said...

Oh, they'll care once Abramoof and then Delay get caught up in this. Safavian is step one to Delay....

9:23 PM  

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