Selling to the government is a freakin' racket!



  • So, the company I work for does 98% of its business through selling to the government.  I've never realized up until now what a racket this is.

    Firstly, the government wants a better price than you would give your "most favored customer", i.e. because they're the government (and only because of that), they're better than your best customer, so deserve a better price than that customer would receive.  Then, to top it off you're expected to routinely lower your prices, because they only buy from the lowest bidders.  So every two months or so you have to do another big update with lower pricing in order to stay competitive, or you lose sales.  So there's about five different types of pricing that you need to give them, and one of them changes all the time.

    Then, there are the restrictions.  Like, a certain subset of retail products can't be purchased - government has to go buy equivalent products from a company that employs blind and disabled people (probably to meet some kind of bullshit federal quota), so you need to flag certain items that you can't sell to them. and do all sorts of nonsensical calculations that seem to boil down to "The government will cheat you, but you can't cheat us."  And, of course, the trade agreements that restrict certain countries products.

    They really have some racket going on here.    The source of 90% of my headaches at work is due to not being familiar with all of these whackjob restrictions, and then having it bite me in the ass later and requiring me to redo half the data manipulation I've already done.  Why can't these beaureaucratic assholes purchase products like everybody else, and let the free market control it?  Oh wait, because the government doesn't like the free market.  Capitalist pigs.



  •  reproted



  • Didn't you hear?  We need a TIME OUT on trade.



  • Uh, my economics are rusty, but I'm pretty sure capitalism = free market. I think you're looking for "communists".



  •  

    So I said goodbye to government
    And I gave my reason
    That a really good religion
    Is a form of treason

    - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Cat's Cradle) 

    So how much for a ten foot wheelchair ramp? You and I are probably thinking a trip to home depot and a couple hundred bucks should cover it. But it's the government at work. $10,000? $100,000?

    Not even close.

    [url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/27/BANQV90AT.DTL]The One Million Dollar Ten Foot Wheelchair Ramp[/url] 

    It's good to know our 8.5% sales tax isn't being squandered foolishly! 



  • And here I was thinking that the government was all free spenders.

    Note that my client manufactures Aircraft Engines, and our primary customer is the DOD, who never seems to have a shortage of money, but always seems to have a shortage of "get shit done on time."  Subsequently, they also never have a shortage of patience.  

    ** DOD = Department of Defense (for you non-Americans) 



  • @medialint said:

    So how much for a ten foot wheelchair ramp? You and I are probably thinking a trip to home depot and a couple hundred bucks should cover it. But it's the government at work. $10,000? $100,000?

    Not even close.

    The One Million Dollar Ten Foot Wheelchair Ramp 

    It's good to know our 8.5% sales tax isn't being squandered foolishly! 

     

     And that is why doing busness with the government is so much more complicated than doing busness with just about anyone else. It's like being enterprisy, but with buildings and real estate.



  • @medialint said:

    The One Million Dollar Ten Foot Wheelchair Ramp 

    It's good to know our 8.5% sales tax isn't being squandered foolishly! 

     

    Yeah, but think of how much more expensive it would be if they were allowed to drink bottled water.  At least they got that critical issue solved.



  • Oki, firstly: Crybaby!!!

    "Wha wha! They give me heaps of money and I have to do what they tell me. Then on top of things I have to learn new things like..gasp regulations. Commies!".

    Put a sock in it, suck it up and deliver.

    Secondly: Without g-work some of the biggest companies in the US would not exist. I. e. companies like Lookhead Martin and so forth. Someone have to make the bombs. Wonder how they do it.



  • @KissTheCode said:

    "Wha wha! They give me heaps of money and I have to do what they tell me. Then on top of things I have to learn new things like..gasp regulations. Commies!".

    @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    the government wants a better price than you would give your "most favored customer"

    Not heaps of money.  If they want you to do more work to comply with "regulations" that you would otherwise have had nothing to do with, don't you think they should have had to pay more?

    OTOH, you could just back out, not get the business, not get ripped off by the gov't, and let it be someone else's headache. 

     



  • Some government guy as to work his way into getting some road made by contractors.

    The first guy would charge him 10 000 bucks. 7000 for his guys and the materials and 3000 for him.

    The second guy would charge him also 10 grands. 8 for the workers and 2 in his pocket.

    A third guy charges him 20 000 dollars. With that money, he hires one of the two precedent company and split the 5000 with the government guy.

    Wich do you think they'd choose ? 



  • Wow, I have the opposite experience. I WORK for the government, and I feel like we're constantly getting screwed by companies who think they can charge us whatever they want (and do!)

    For example, they sold us this shitty application that's being used by over 10 provincial and state governments. It was full of security holes, one of them being the fact that they store all your data in a cookie, and trust it 100%. In other words, I could change my access, privileges, username, etc. by editing my cookie. They said that it'll take time to fix that. $23,000 of time, specifically. WTF! They're charging us $23,000 to fix gaping holes in their own piece of shit code? Lame!



  •  @rbowes said:

    Wow, I have the opposite experience. I WORK for the government, and I feel like we're constantly getting screwed by companies who think they can charge us whatever they want (and do!)

    That's the government I know! 



  • The problem with government is that they can't tell the good from the bad so they assume that everyone is out to screw them (hence lowest bidder) but don't have any penalty for failure (hence getting raped by the provider and reinforcing the assumption everyone is out to screw them).

    On time, on budget and feature-complete...  pick 2...  For government work, seems like meeting even one is unparalleled success.



  • @ObiWayneKenobi said:

    Oh wait, because the government doesn't like the free market.  Capitalist pigs.

    The free market only works when there is no such thing as a big company.

    Once there is at least one big company, the free market necessarily favors that big company under the invalid assumption that it has proven its worth in the free market. If the company had, in fact, started from the same place as everyone else and reached this size in the free market... that would be precisely how things ought to work. But it didn't. It's almost certainly big because it's been unfairly favored by conditions in the current market.

    The only way to correct this is to take away everybody's money so nobody has anything. Then you can have a free market, but everyone hates you. What the US has done instead is to make a massive body of regulations designed to guarantee that small companies don't automatically get slaughtered in the marketplace. Some of those small companies have leveraged a knowledge of those regulations and made themselves into big companies, largely by exploiting loopholes and technicalities in the complex interactions of those regulations.

    The real racket, incidentally, is deliberately doing a shitty job because that's all you can do for the price you quoted - but still technically meeting your requirements, so you can exploit the preferential treatment you get as the original contractor. If it would cost $10 million to do the job right, offer to do it for $5 million, and spend $2 million doing a half-arsed job that technically fulfills the contract but doesn't actually work. Then you can bid another $5 million to fix it, and repeat ad nauseam. Since you can fix it for much less than it would cost someone else to do it right, you'll always get the contract, and you can essentially charge the government $3 million a year for nothing as long as you want. When you get tired of this contract (i.e. you want to bid on a $100 million contract at $75 million and only spend $5 million developing your intentional failure), close the loop and ship it.

    If you're honest, you use projects like that to subsidise other projects that actually make a difference - you bid $500 million on a $700 million contract over ten years, and so long as you bring in $20 million a year from other sources, you can keep going. Government purchasing agents notice this and will not only look the other way, but deliberately farm vague contracts in your direction so you can charge more and deliver less. Likewise, if you're dishonest and just milk the government for cash, the contracts tend to dry up unless you know how to fly under the radar. (Changing company names, sale of the scam company to a larger honest company, proxy CEO appointments, public displays of discipline, etc. The process is well-known in the right circles.)

    Done right, e.g. Cheney and Halliburton, you can get rich AND make a difference. Whether it's the right difference is always debatable, but I'm sure he'd be more than happy to discuss it with you... say, on a hunting trip. ;)


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.