Myth: Vendor Overcharges To Government (Part 4)

Posted on May 2, 2013. Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

8th in the series The Manipulators

Today’s proverbLet George Do It

Your words for the day:

  • crowd = three (as in “two’s a couple, three’s a crowd); or, one too many cooks in the kitchen
  • facilitator = a catalyst in the social not chemical sense; or, one too many cooks in the kitchen
  • not my job, man = the universal escape clause — unstated, but inherent — in every assignment of responsibility

The City Auditor (Dangerous Dave) said:

  • …contract pricing did not accompany the invoices,
  • …(and, yet) he also said that product prices were switched from one list to another list…   even though he said that there were no lists to reference.
  • …”US Communities contract” — intoned as though it were a supernatural incantation that should bring good fiscal luck to the intoner.

According to Dangerous Dave, there were no price lists associated with the invoices, yet, somehow, Dave asserts that prices were floated between these phantom lists to get a higher price for the vendor.  If one’s knowledge base is ignorance, how can one’s conclusion be so assertive?

US Communities.  Who are those guys, anyway?  http://www.uscommunities.org  (Look ’em up yourselves for enlightenment)

What I got out of their online advertising was:

  • …they got nothing to do with government.  Their “dot category” is “org” not “gov.”  They claim to be non-profit, but they take a cut of the gate.
  • …their schtick is to get a lot of organizations (private and government) to sign on as customers (membership) of a single “contract” to be serviced by a single contractor, purportedly to get cheaper everything with minimal bureaucrat effort.
  • …the attraction for the membership is to get product a lower price — with minimal bureaucrat effort.
  • …the attraction for the seller would be a large guaranteed customer base which would more than make up for selling at a lower price (the assumption being that large quantities will, in fact, be ordered.)  Win-win for everybody.

And, if they are NON-profit, what is in it for the “dot.org?”

Why, PROFIT…   of course!  Say, a 1% to 2.5% administrative fee, payable by the seller.  It didn’t say “percent of what,” so I’ll go with a cut of the seller’s take.  With the City of Houston thing, 1% of $19.2 million = $192,000; jump that to $480,000 at the 2.5% rate.  Sweet deal, eh?  Is that tax-free ’cause they are non-profit?

What do they actually do for that fee?  They write-up a form contract that says, in essence…   (in case I’m too subtle here, this is the part where I cynically paraphrase my understanding of all this)

  • “I, the party of the First Part (insert name of vendor here) agree to SELL enormous amounts of post-its, pens, pencils, staples and all kinds of paper and other expendables to buyers signed up on US Communities membership list (insert control number of list), which is attached to this contract, at the cheaper bulk rate prices I offer to all my big-order customers all the time, even without a rinky-dink contract.”
  • “I, the party of the Second Part (insert name of buyer — or a whole list of ’em) agree to BUY from (insert name of vendor again) enormous amounts of post-its, pens, pencils, staples and all kinds of paper and other expendables and pay according to the attached price lists (insert price list control number) which I understand is cheaper than buying from the same vendor in little bitty quantities.  I also understand that NONE OF THE EMPLOYEES in our accounting department, PAID BY THE TAX PAYERS TO KEEP TRACK OF TAX MONEY, WILL HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to monitor either the uncontrolled ordering by hundreds of individuals in scads of departments or to cross-check vendor invoices against our understanding of the contract and get all incorrect invoices clarified BEFORE we pay them.  Further, all that those employees need to do henceforth is show up at the office, enjoy coffee and donuts all day, clock out for the evening, and collect a tax-subsidized paycheck for doing nothing.  Free coffee and donuts would be real nice.”
  • “We, the party of the Third Part, US Communities, will (1) match up our standard prepared price lists (which we got from the stated vendor, JUST LIKE THE GOVERNMENT ENTITY COULD HAVE DONE ON-LINE OR BY USING THE TELEPHONE) to the appropriate contract, (2) insert the names of the Buyer and the Seller, and, voila, our contribution to this “Market Place Meeting of Interests” is done…   although, (3) we will diligently listen for future “ka-chings” and check our monthly up-date from the bank of our choice.  Oh, and (4) we might monitor all that stuff we told you about to get you signed up.

This “co-op” thing sounds to me more like a dating service type of operation.  “We are just a facilitator.  We found your match, but marriage relations are up to you two.  Sign on the dotted line, and we are outta here.  Should anything go wrong — or simply not go right — we ain’t got nuthin’ to do with that!  You are on your own.”  US Communities then exits stage left.

Next up:  Myth (Part 5) George didn’t do it.

 

 

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Hermes: Get It Any Way You Can

Posted on March 9, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Mythology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Now, where were we?  Oh, yeah…   wealth…   filthy lucre and all that.  Our boy, Hermes, really cornered the marked on departmental titles.  He didn’t just run lust…   loose…   run loose in the woods and meadow lands, but, he even got a gig overseeing dreams (maybe this is where that caught-in-public-in-your-undies-or-stark-naked dream got its start), and, (big surprise) ran the national fertility clinic; you know how your Greek gods are.  And, shades of your Irish leprechaun, he dispensed any good fortune you came across, be it a fortunate windfall, treasure that “fell” from a passing wagon, or something you found behind an unlocked door not yours.  Are you ready for this?  That old hustler even ran a hearse service transporting passengers from the Here and Now to the great unknown of the Underworld.  No doubt he collected fares.

There were downsides to his business…   like with the deity of highways gig.  To be relevant to humans, since gods didn’t really need to use roadways, he had the job of protecting travelers, also.  Those would be the same people who worshiped him and celebrated his birthday with him on the fourth of the month — every month.  So, if, after a long chase, he cornered a reluctant nymph out in the dark woods, and, at the same time, a wayward traveler called out in distress, decisions had to be made.  What takes precedence — hard-won rewards of a long chase or a careless human who shouldn’t be out in the dark in the first place?  It’s a bureaucrat’s worst nightmare:  perks vs. duty.

Just how did Hermes get all these assignments?  My guess is he was a suck-up.  Take that messenger-of-the-gods thing.  I can just see a juvenile Hermes sneaking around Mount Olympus listening to the gossip, then high-tailing it over to another god’s digs and telling all.  Hermes was the son of a god, but not just any god; he was a prince among gods.  So, what can you do about it?  Shrug, and go with the flow.  Hera spots Hermes skulking around in her sunroom listening to her diss Maia.  She whips out an RSVP note for an upcoming party, and calls Hermes over and says, “Look, kid, since you’re going over to Maia’s anyway, take this note for me.”  A prompt reply was required, so she issued a neat set of winged boots for Hermes to wear for ASAP delivery, “and wait for a reply.”  Yet another departmental title racked up.  That Hermes really had the moves.  Did I mention he also had a silver tongue?  As the god of rhetoric his gift of gab served him well. 

Next up:  Hi-yo Quicksilver.  Awaaayyy!

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