The Wonderful World of Defense Procurement

If the Democrats have their way, our health care is going to work like this too. Basically, a company developed a lightning machine (i.e. a fancy tesla coil) and claimed would deactivate IEDs. Turns out it didn’t work so well.

Eventually, the Pentagon soured on the JINs. Ionatron lost most of its cash, changed its name, and got wrapped up in a series of shareholder lawsuits and insider trading scandals. A couple of years ago, the broken firm reached out to Tuscon’s Southwest Liquidators, who helped clear the Ionatron warehouse of its useless inventory of electronics. “We took it all,” says Southwest’s Keith Tearne. Then they put it on eBay.

So basically the defense department was bilked out of a wad of cash, which in the big picture of the whole defense budget isn’t much. Hell, maybe some of the Pentagon brass and political appointees figured even if it didn’t work, it would scare the hell out of the insurgents. I have to admit that if my existence was mostly of dirt floors and poppy growing, seeing this head down the street would probably scare the shit out of me too. But the point is, when you don’t have a free market, or at least a somewhat free market making your decisions, bureaucrats aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are. Smarter people, with fewer scruples, are going to bilk them out of large sums of taxpayer money.

6 thoughts on “The Wonderful World of Defense Procurement”

  1. Bureaucrats are mostly as dumb as a sack full of bricks. They don’t get to the top of the paper-heap by being smart so much as by being clever. Machiavelli and backstabbing is the Kabuki they attend-to. They make their money by fully spending their budget and have no interest in reducing that income – waste or not.

  2. Dirt: I’d kindly ask that you don’t paint us ALL with the same brush. I’ve been an acquisition professional for the DoD for a decade now. Many of us work hard to get full-value for the dollars entrusted to us by the taxpayers. And yes, that IS how we think of the mission, and our duty.

    You are absolutely correct that there are plenty of bureaucrats who focus on fully spending, not worrying about value. Just don’t assume that we all have that approach.

  3. @jetfxr69

    It’s not that you all behave badly, but that the system you’re a part of encourages bad behavior. I have no doubt that you are an honest and moral person, but you have to recognize that you have those traits despite the inherent tendencies of the DoD procurement system. Most people just drift through life, strongly affected by whatever incentives they find in their lives and careers, and their behavior is affected accordingly.

    That’s why the “average” .gov employee is so much less productive and so much more wasteful than the average .com employee. He’s not a worse person, but he’s a part of a system that encourages bad behavior rather than good behavior.

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