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Senior Contributor

Can't cut government spending?

I think many people unhappy with our government including the Tea Party movement think we need to cut government spending and especially wasteful spending.  However many times when I see this idea of spending cuts brought up I see someone come back suggesting that these disgruntled tax payers must want to see cops and firemen laid off as if there is no pork to be trimmed.  Here is an excellent example of wasteful spending.   Seems the VA hospital in Knoxville, Iowa let out bids to mow the grounds at the hospital which is around 100 total acres but not sure just how many of those acres require mowing.  There were many bids submitted in the $300,000 range but they were rejected in favor of a bid for $871,000.   The lower bids were rejected according to the VA contracting officer because, "The government estimates how long it takes and how much it costs. Your quote was not determined to be enough time to mow and trim. My job is to make sure awards are made at a fair and reasonable price, not only for the government but for the contractor. I don't want to see any contractor 'paying' to work for the government."


Some of the bids a half million dollars less then the winning bid that were rejected were from mowing companies that have been in the business for 20 years and are from people who have a degree in turf management from Iowa State University.  Another guy I heard talking on the radio runs a large mowing business with finish mowers as large as 16 feet wide and has had several mowing contracts with the state and federal government in the past and currently.   Instead the government decided to award the mowing contract to "Crossroads Hall, which is a rental hall off Highway 5. The owner, Brenda Davis, works at Vermeer Manufacturing. KCCI spoke to her on the phone, but she had no comment."


The owners of two local mowing companies said Davis, an administrative assistant at Vermeer, runs a reception hall, not a landscaping company.


Since this has been reported in the news and complaints from those rejected that submitted lower bids have grown officials from Sen. Tom Harkin's office say they are in the process of contacting the relevant agencies involved in this case to ensure procedures were followed and the companies were treated fairly.


It will be interesting to see the results of a thorough investigation and just what connections there are between Ms. Davis and the VA contracting officer and exactly why the contracting officer went the much higher bid.  


While listening to this topic being discussed on the radio yesterday I heard from a caller who claimed to have a friend in Europe that has gotten very rich from mowing contracts for U.S. military bases over seas.  Supposedly the contractor submits bids far higher then what he would for a similar mowing job for a private individual or company because he knows from past experience the U.S. government will not bat an eye or question the validity of the estimates.  The caller mentioned the familiar line about how people don't care because it is not their money they are spending.


2 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: Can't cut government spending?

Too many people in government have never had any real jobs.  They've never worked to improve their job.  They have little or no practical experience.  They went to grade school, high school and then college.  All insular institutions, following that they entered the government workforce which is another insular institution.  It's almost impossible to be fired and if you are there is another job with another title waiting.  You show up ( some don't) and shuffle your papers.  You spend other peoples money and only see problems as something needing more money to solve. 

Senior Advisor

Re: Can't cut government spending?

I would like to know who these government "estimators" are and how much they get paid.