Contracting Professionals Need to Travel — and Train

April 28, 2013

No one can forget the image released a year ago of a government executive holding a champagne glass in toast while sitting in a Las Vegas hot tub — paid for with federal dollars. Congressional leaders were rightfully indignant and called for a halt to such events. However, taxpayer costs for government acquisition may now be increasing as a result of overreach policies implemented since then.

The less than $1 million expenditure for the General Services Administration Western Region conference in 2010, wasteful as it was, has evolved, justifying the imposition of far more comprehensive restrictions on the government acquisition community that are not reducing government waste or budget deficits. Though nominal savings come from prohibiting training, travel and public interaction, this is overshadowed by the hidden increased costs caused by gaps in knowledge, business communications and relationships otherwise derived through in-person interactions and learning. A workforce improperly trained or communicating poorly with industry results in badly managed contracts and misunderstandings that cost taxpayers. In a time of increased contracting activity, as agencies realign their budgets to meet deficit reduction targets, it is no surprise that contractor protest activity is up. Nondelivering contracts affect federal budgets more adversely than small short-term agency training cuts.

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