Bleak House

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There are so many complicated, infuriating things that make smart Pentagon purchasing nearly impossible. Take this Government Accountability Office investigation, released Wednesday, into charges that a former (unnamed) Pentagon official illicitly helped a company that he went to work for win a contract after leaving the Defense Department. The company, VSE Corp., of Alexandria, Va., protested to the GAO after the Army killed the contract because of the former official’s involvement in the deal.

The GAO ruled that the contract termination may have been in error, and needs to be reviewed. But the entangling alliances, revolving door, “behind the scenes” actions, missing computer, and the Dickensian contracting process detailed in the GAO’s decision, all make clear the Defense Department’s procurement system is broken. If it were an automobile, your insurance company would total it.