Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nothing more for private sector to do

Spaceref reports on a report released by the Generate Accountability Office (GAO). The gist of the report is that several Federal science-related agencies, such as NASA and NOAA, were required to compete commercial activities currently done in-house with private industry. It seems (to me) like a half-hearted effort was made to identify commercial activities (I guess they mean potentially commercial?) and to allow private industry to compete for this business. The comclusions were that private industry is pretty inefficient, and the in-house government agency won almost all of the time. The agencies expect even less results in the future because they've already done it with the jobs that private industry can handle like janitorial services.

From the report: "Agency View of Activities That Can Be Successfully Contracted Out: According to agency competitive sourcing officials, they expect the in-house organization to win most competitions. For example, Energy officials told us that they expect the in-house win rate to be higher than the private-sector win rate because most commercial type activities such as cleaning and general maintenance have already been contracted out. The remaining activities are more complex and require greater knowledge about agency operations, which officials said gives agency employees an advantage. Similarly, NASA officials told us that NASA started off about 30 years ago contracting out many of its commercial services and now has fewer such services to compete."

I think there are completely different ideas within these agencies and outside them on what commercial services are. For example, I think most people would not consider "Space Trucking Company" as an inherently governmental activities, but if anything inherently non-governmental activities.

As far as this blog is concerned, though, the main thing I want to point out is that the only business mechanism they considered for working with the private sector is the traditional contract that has suffered from so many nation-wounding problems in big aerospace, cost-plus projects. Prizes are completely off in left field.