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Re: [TowerTalk] Hammers and Toilet Seats

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Hammers and Toilet Seats
From: Jim Lux <>
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 12:03:29 -0700
List-post: <">>
On 4/22/11 10:23 AM, Warrenwolff wrote:
> The truth of the matter is that the various, old
> "high priced" military purchases were precipitated
> by the over application of Mil-STD-810B (I think)
> which imposed ridiculous testing on the particular items being
> purchased.      For example, if certain tests were not
> excluded in the purchase agreement/contract, an
> item might be unnecessarily subjected to high altitude
> performance or salt water incursion.  Of course, the
> supplier would then charge for testing to verify compliance
> to that portion of MIL-STD-810B.  As a result of this
> irresponsible contracting, we "tailored" all applications
> of this MIL_STD to insure no future stupid and unnecessary
> tests were included in our contracts.

Sometimes, though, for a small volume purchase, it's cheaper to just 
spend the extra time/money for the test  than to justify, negotiate, and 
document the change in test requirements.

For a large firm, a mod in standard terms and conditions could cost 
several thousand dollars by the time all the folks review and sign off 
on it.  Granted it's the same several thousand dollars whether it's 10 
hammers at $5 each or 10 vector network analyzers at $100k each.

And the cost to provide auditable paperwork is never going to go away, 
unless it's truly a catalog off the shelf item.  These days, things that 
cost less than about $2k, and which are not destined for a critical 
application (life safety or mission critical) can be bought on a 
government credit card, with no real paperwork required.  (For honest 
catalog stuff, that is.. has to be in stock and deliverable within a few 
days... pretty much anything in the McMaster Carr catalog for 
instance... and they've got literally tons of hammers and toilet seats 
in there)

As long as people are concerned about the government getting ripped off, 
there will be requirements for paperwork to prove that we're not, and 
that's just part of the reason it costs more.  If a private company 
orders something and it turns out to be bogus, they can deal with it 
internally, and nobody much cares, as long as it doesn't affect the 
bottom line.  But if the government buys something that turns out to be 
bogus, there's a whole line of people ready and willing to stand up and 
say "this waste, fraud, and abuse must be stamped out".


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