ILSM on the Culture of Waste

This one is by ILSM

This post is on GAO 08 621, which discusses waste.

Waste is like its companions fraud and abuse, only in a lesser sense. It is somewhat between them. It is not criminal misrepresentation of material facts. Close!

What I think they are saying: ‘you cannot say a decision based on statistics, faulty hypothesis tests is a misrepresentation’, nor can one say that stating the gold plated, worst case and making it sound like the absolutely ciritical drop dead requiremnet without regard for opportunity costs debate is lying, either. See appendix II of the GAO for a good discussion.

A couple of old Army views.

“Paying your schilling”. This is the culture of ‘going along to get along’. Agreeing with the naked emperor and participating in fraud and waste, you know they are wrong but you succumb to the Melian dialog and put self interest ahead of truth and justice. You use the excuse when I get up there I will do right. Only you never get up there.

“Breaking Starch”: Being the emperor with no clothes. Keeping a starched uniform in the day room and when the CO is coming to your area jump into the uniform. Better paint all the rocks in the company area so that the place looks good and the CO thinks you are combat ready when all you can do is look good.

Both of these traditions and more are widespread not only in the DoD but other government organizations and it flourishes because there is money being made and no one wants to press for good management if it will change the culture and alter comfortable careers.

The culture of waste insists upon avoiding a clear and direct discussion of opportunity costs. Overcoming this culture with its allies in industry and PAC’s will be difficult. As GAO points out a return to the old icon of the independent, questioning civil servant protected by the Pendalton Act is needed. However, DoD is experimenting with an “improved” modern performance management which empowers managers to demand their schillings.

No one will ever ask if it would be better to ‘whiittle a beak’ than spend the money on a vaguery which will cost too much and not work.

This one was by ILSM.