Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Request for Proposal

One concept of government waste holds that the best way to prevent overspending is oversight and a clearly stated set of requirements. For instance, if the navy wants a new type of ship, it seeks out proposals for concepts, then proof of concepts, then prototypes. The idea is that by choosing very carefully what to spend the money on, they will save money and get the best product. This is not a bad idea and makes a lot of sense, so much so that it is used by every large organization in the world. For the Federal Government, however, the end result is that so much time and effort is spent on the selection process that for anything less than $100 billion worth of warship, it would have been cheaper to just take the first bid and save 15 years of paperwork.

This is well illustrated by the requirements for paper towels.

C-fold paper towels provided shall have a minimum unfolded width of 10.25 inches, with a permissible variance of plus .25 or minus .50 inches, and maximum length of 14 inches.

Each towel shall have a minimum area of 130 square inches. The folded width of each towel shall be 3 inches, with a permissible variance of plus .25 or minus .50 inches."

The rate of absorption of paper towel material provided shall not be greater than 20 seconds for the absorption of 0.1 milliliter of water on any representative sample of paper towel as submitted."

The color of the paper towel shall be white, with a minimum brightness rating of 70 when measured in accordance with the requirements of test method T-452 of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industries."

The minimum thickness of 12 single plies of the paper towel material provided shall be 0.070 inch when measured under an applied pressure of 0.5 psig.

I would think that the best course of action would be to just sign a contract with a cleaning company and be done with it. I shudder to think of the hours of government employee time wasted drafting, revising, approving, implementing, overseeing, and enforcing this.

HT Cato-at-Liberty


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