Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hurry Up and Spend!

Interesting communication from the Markell administration, requesting a team of 6 lawyers, at a (likely) cost of $60,000 for one week of work, to figure out how to grab as much stimulus money as possible and to 'write the book' on how to do the end of next week, mind you.

Why? Because it's there.

I am reminded of the reality about government waste inherent when a pile of public cash is dumped on an agency or a jurisdiction with the proviso : "if you don't spend it all, you won't get as much next time." So money gets burned however possible, whether the spending is needed or not.

It's a recipe for massive waste, fraud, and abuse considering the scale of the spending involved.


The State of Delaware seeks to engage, on an expedited basis, a law firm to act as counsel in connection with the state’s application for and use of funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The estimated scope of work will be 240 hours to be performed by six attorneys over a one week period of time beginning at 9:00 a.m. on March 13, 2009. The final work product requested is a written handbook detailing for the State of Delaware the steps needed to ensure that the state obtains the maximum possible amount of federal funding under the ARRA, and that said funds are used in a legally proper manner.

Law firms seeking this engagement must have been business for at least five years, and must agree to maintain in full force and effect during the term of the contract professional liability insurance in an aggregate amount of at least $2 million.

Law firms seeking this engagement must demonstrate the capacity to perform the scope of services needed by the state within the indicated time frame. Law firms seeking this engagement should also specify any expertise in the area of interpretation of or compliance with federal funding statutes and regulations, and shall specify the names and bar admission years of the attorneys who will be working on this engagement if awarded.

Each law firm seeking this engagement shall identify any potential conflicts of interest that may arise if the firm is retained for the indicated purpose.

Each law firm seeking this engagement shall submit a flat-fee offer with respect to the work indicated. Said flat fee shall not exceed $60,000, excluding out-of-pocket costs.

Law firm selection will be made based upon the following criteria:

  1. Firm’s ability to comply with minimum requirements outlined above.
  2. Experience of attorneys who will be performing requested work.
  3. Absence of conflicts or satisfactory resolution of any existing conflicts.

Submissions should be made by e-mail no later than noon, March 12, 2009 to:
Robert L. Scoglietti
Director of Policy and External Affairs
Delaware Office of Management and Budget


Shirley Vandever said...

Interesting you should post this now. I work for an agency that is expecting to receive approx $5 million from ARRA. During a conference call yesterday, the words from the State, which were repeated quite a few times were:

"Spend, spend, spend".

There is a limited amount of time to spend the money, and not all federal guidance on certain questions have been made clear. Although not physically in hand yet, the monies will need to be spent quickly.

If I heard "Spend, spend, spend" one more time I think I was going to puke. Thank goodness it was a conference call and the phone was on mute so I can make the appropriate facial expressions and snide remarks.

I'm not saying the money will not be spent well or efficiently (although not 100% of it will, I guarantee), but the "spend spend spend" mantra was just a little much.

Tyler Nixon said...

The problem is the silent parenthetical after it : (OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY).

Anonymous said...

Shirley, not knowing what agency you work for makes it impossible to judge the potential quality of the spending. You did say that the money would be well spent, which is good to hear. I would hope it will also create more jobs.

To the $60K investment for $5M expenditure, that's a little over 1% to assure that the spending is very well directed. I support that!

Perry Hood

Shirley Vandever said...

Sorry to say, this money will not create any jobs.

It will be spent according to the parameters of the regulations, but that doesn't mean it is doing anything for the economy. It will, however, stimulate quite a bit of administrative challenges within the organization.

Without going into too much detail, people would have different opinions on whether or not this money is well spent or not. It is a supplement to an existing fund, and I don't really see the actual need demonstrated that more funds were fact, we will have to differentiate between existing and stimulus funds, which tells me that the existing funding level was quite enough.

I think that most of the jobs that will be "created" through ARRA will be government jobs (which tend to last forever, unlike construction jobs), and, as Tyler points out, lots and lots and lots of lawyers.

Steve Newton said...

Gee, Perry, given that the State already employs dozens of attorneys, and given that most of our liberal friends here oppose the very idea of privatization, why would you support the outsourcing of any facet of the management of government funds intended to stimulate the economy to pad the billing of for-profit attorneys.

Shouldn't somebody in the AG's office, or the Auditor's office be able to do this and save the state a few tens of thousands of dollars?

And what, pray tell, is the percentage of loss to administrative costs do you find acceptable in public funds?

Tyler Nixon said...

The sad underlying point is that we are not hiring professionals to scrutinize the state's needs and obtain federal money to meet them.

We are hiring them to make sure we grab as much as possible, for which we can qualify, no matter the actual public good involved.

This is what comes when we are led by people (not Markell) of the twisted mind than ANY government spending is good, and much much much much more is all the better.

Who cares if it goes down the rat hole, just get / grab all you can as fast as you can.