Government purchasing….

Ok, the way government budgeting/purchasing scares the hell out of me as an engineer, and as a tax-payer it gets me absolutely barking.

It starts off in the budget.  Department heads go around and ask all of their people how much money they’re going to need to do their job.  When supplied with this information, Department head then goes and multiplies that number by 2 and adds about 10 million for good measure just to be sure.

Those budgets are then fed up the food chain.  Every person who handles the budget adds 10-20% for good measure, their little pet project, or anything else they can come up with.

This number goes in front of congress.  Congress immediately approves the budget because they don’t know a SAN box from a NAS box from a Kleenex box.  (Seriously, like 16 brain cells between them)

Budget approved, spending starts.

About six months from the end of the fiscal year, someone realizes that “hey – we have all this money left over for some reason.”

Here’s the painful part.  They start making stuff up to spend it on.  Absolutely ridiculous stuff when it comes down to it – like storage rooms full of Sun thin-workstations or uselessly huge laptops that are barely deserving of the name “laptop” (and don’t have a serial port I might add, annoying for people who have to do ground-up switch configurations)

Why?  Because:

If they don’t spend it this year they won’t be able to justify requesting a budget increase next year.

If they don’t spend it they will get their hands slapped for requesting too much money this year.

(The greatest reason EVER given to me by a government employee as to why they spend money like this:  “If we don’t spend it now we won’t have it next year.”)

My brain hurts.  And as a taxpayer, this is the kind of stuff that gets me positively barking.

Spend money – it keeps the economy moving and allows people like me to keep working.

HOWEVER – spend it smartly.  Don’t throw $1.2 million dollars away on a solution when a $600K solution will do the same job with fewer moving parts.

In fact, it’s funny – when you start spending money smartly, the side effect is you can usually get more.  So instead of buying $1,200,000 worth of storage for a Data-center, you can get $1,200,000 worth of storage and fully equip both a data-center *AND* a Disaster Recovery site.

You know – actually protecting the data you’re entrusted to protect might be a neat idea…

By the way, all examples here are hypothetical…right? 😉

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