"Keeping Up With Procurement" (July 1) hit upon a subject that is worrisome, but did not give us any potential solutions.
The instructors at the Defense Acquisition University have said that today's contracting workforce is much better than their 1970s and 1980s counterparts. Still, it has not changed since 1999, and we could use a larger one. Solutions from inspectors general-whether they are Defense Department, Army or Air Force-are more inspections and reviews.
I work at the operational level, and I can tell you that more reviews and inspections only slow the process, make contracting more costly and result in poor service.
True, the checks and balances are to ensure there is no waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. But I have yet to meet one person in the profession who would commit fraud. The largest contract I ever awarded was about $22 million, and most are in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. Most of the abuse is at levels far above mine, but the restrictions, it seems, are all at my level.
Possible solutions include reducing the number of reviews and increasing review thresholds, restructuring the inspection to look for competition, dedicating a lawyer to contracting for legal reviews, and trusting officers to do their jobs. Ninety-nine percent of all government employees are conscientious and trustworthy.Bill Davis
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
What About AID?
I was dismayed when I read "Nation Builders" (June 15) by Katherine McIntire Peters and there was no mention of the Agency for International Development in Iraq. We have thousands of employees throughout the developing world who are engaged in "nation building."
In 2004, 2005 and 2006, AID provided more than $3 billion in assistance to the people of Iraq for the restoration of infrastructure that is critical to their economy. AID has helped to rebuild airports, roads, bridges, railroads, seaports, electric power, water and sanitation systems and telecommunications.
It has provided vaccinations to more than 5 million children in Iraq against measles, mumps and rubella and 3 million more against polio. AID has repaired 110 health clinics and equipped 600 others with primary care kits.
The agency has trained more than 750 Iraqi physicians in clinical practices. AID has rehabilitated more than 2,400 schools; trained more than 32,000 school teachers; and printed and distributed 8.7 million science and math textbooks. AID is engaged with the Iraqi government to implement best practices aimed at improving economic governance and the policy-enabling environment for private sector-led growth.
AID supports Iraq's transition to democracy by providing training to 10,000 council members in democratic principles and procedures, budgeting and citizen input. The agency also trained more than 5,000 department and ministry officials at the provincial levels in water treatment, waste management, agriculture and financial management systems.Chip Galloway
Human Resources Specialist
Agency for International Development
In the July 15 issue, we miscredited the cover illustration to Stephen Webster. Viktor Koen created the cover art, and Stephen Webster illustrated the table of contents.