Important components of the pandemic response have bypassed essential rules and protocols, but the problems go beyond the current crisis.
As the national response to the pandemic and associated economic crisis continues to unfold, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are again in territory where politics meets procurement. And that should be a concern for every American.
Let’s start with the obvious: The effective and efficient execution of any portion of the pandemic response largely hinges on the effective and efficient performance of our acquisition system.
The process by which federal contracts and grants are awarded is critical to support the manufacture and distribution of protective equipment, ventilators, or therapeutics and to deliver assistance to individuals and businesses struggling to survive. It therefore follows that the responsiveness of the acquisition system to meet these critical needs in large part determines the efficiency and effectiveness of our government’s response.
This is why it is so disturbing to read about cases in which important components of the national response have involved clear efforts to simply ignore the rules and protocols, from basic due diligence and pricing analyses to transparency. Yet, that is exactly what we have seen too often in recent months, including actions associated with Project Airbridge; sole source contracts for vital equipment that proved faulty; tens of millions of dollars wasted on a contract for ventilators that the Health and Human Services Department had to terminate; a complete lack of transparency around huge contracts for vaccine distribution; contracts awarded to an 11-day-old company that just happened to be founded by a former administration official; enormous grants made to a company in a manner that has raised serious ethical and other concerns, and more.
Even worse, all of these cases share another common denominator: the actions were directed and sometimes executed by senior political officials who, it could fairly be argued, are not versed in good acquisition practices and who may be driven by incentives other than the mission itself.
Keep reading this article at: https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/09/when-politics-and-procurement-mix-effects-can-be-deadly/168553/