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(KMOV St. Louis)   Federal contractor in Missouri gets paid $1.2 billion for its employees to do nothing except blindly hurl b-b-b-b-b-b-buts around in a Fark politics thread   (kmov.com) divider line 85
    More: Fail, Federal Contractors, Fark, Missouri, dollars  
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3614 clicks; posted to Politics » on 14 May 2014 at 1:07 PM (15 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-14 11:13:12 AM
Rule 1: First, do no harm. Check.
Rule 2: ?????
Rule 3: Profit!

Welp, looks like everything's in order.
 
2014-05-14 11:45:48 AM
Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.
 
2014-05-14 11:51:40 AM
ACA? This is an outrage, right? Are we supposed to be outraged about this? KMOV is not a Fox affiliate, so I'm not sure.

I'll have to wait to hear what Rush tells the faithful to think about this.
 
2014-05-14 12:54:24 PM

James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.


So why are we paying them to do anything?
 
2014-05-14 12:55:17 PM

MrBallou: ACA? This is an outrage, right? Are we supposed to be outraged about this? KMOV is not a Fox affiliate, so I'm not sure.

I'll have to wait to hear what Rush tells the faithful to think about this.


Don't forget you have to hit "refresh" again in a few minutes.
 
vpb [TotalFark]
2014-05-14 12:59:15 PM

Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?


Probably because some Senator or Congressman from Missouri gets a lot of money from the contractor.  That's usually the way this sort of thing happens.
 
2014-05-14 01:04:43 PM

Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?


I don't have enough information.
 
2014-05-14 01:09:58 PM

Nabb1: MrBallou: ACA? This is an outrage, right? Are we supposed to be outraged about this? KMOV is not a Fox affiliate, so I'm not sure.

I'll have to wait to hear what Rush tells the faithful to think about this.

Don't forget you have to hit "refresh" again in a few minutes.


Carpal tunnel can develop from that you know.
 
2014-05-14 01:11:30 PM
Hit refresh button every 10 minutes to see if a paper application has appeared?

WTF?
 
2014-05-14 01:12:44 PM

Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?


Possibly because the contract was for a finite time with an actual ending date that was based on time, not the amount of work?

Who knows, TFA is so skinny in the details department, I think we should just call it The Nicole Ritchie.
 
2014-05-14 01:15:09 PM
TFA says a "portion" of the $1.2 billion went to the call center.  I'm going to go out on a limb and saying this article is worthless without any idea of how much of that money actually went to the call center, and what the ongoing terms are.
 
2014-05-14 01:17:03 PM
The contract was only awarded for $114M. It has options to extend to $1.25B. Soooo, I'm already a bit skeptical on how this is being reported.
 
2014-05-14 01:18:21 PM
I was told that outsourcing and privatizing saved money!
If only the contract had been written on a per application processed basis!!
 
2014-05-14 01:21:20 PM

error 303: The contract was only awarded for $114M. It has options to extend to $1.25B. Soooo, I'm already a bit skeptical on how this is being reported.


Especially since the entire article is based on the unverified report by an anonymous individual, with apparently no attempt whatsoever made to check the claims or even if the person actually works there.
 
2014-05-14 01:23:12 PM

mayIFark: Hit refresh button every 10 minutes to see if a paper application has appeared?

WTF?


That's what you get when you pin all of your journalistic hopes on an anonymous whistleblower. You roll the dice and take your chances.
 
2014-05-14 01:23:22 PM

error 303: The contract was only awarded for $114M. It has options to extend to $1.25B. Soooo, I'm already a bit skeptical on how this is being reported.


So like a $500 BILLYUN nfl contract that espn jizzes all over about that only gets paid anywhere near full value if the team gets 12 superbowls in 10 years abd the qb never has an int
 
2014-05-14 01:23:58 PM

TFerWannaBe: error 303: The contract was only awarded for $114M. It has options to extend to $1.25B. Soooo, I'm already a bit skeptical on how this is being reported.

Especially since the entire article is based on the unverified report by an anonymous individual, with apparently no attempt whatsoever made to check the claims or even if the person actually works there.


i0.kym-cdn.com
 
2014-05-14 01:24:52 PM

TFerWannaBe: Especially since the entire article is based on the unverified report by an anonymous individual, with apparently no attempt whatsoever made to check the claims or even if the person actually works there.


Yeah, but Kim Kardashian made a new tweet! Priorities, man.
 
2014-05-14 01:25:02 PM

namatad: I was told that outsourcing and privatizing saved money!
If only the contract had been written on a per application processed basis!!


I think we should ask Obama why he personally signed this contract, right after he finishes eating those crackers.
 
2014-05-14 01:26:04 PM

Doktor_Zhivago: error 303: The contract was only awarded for $114M. It has options to extend to $1.25B. Soooo, I'm already a bit skeptical on how this is being reported.

So like a $500 BILLYUN nfl contract that espn jizzes all over about that only gets paid anywhere near full value if the team gets 12 superbowls in 10 years abd the qb never has an int


Is this stream of consciousness writing, or something?
 
2014-05-14 01:27:36 PM
Sweet, sweet U.S. taxpayer gravy.....not too much more room at the trough, though...
 
2014-05-14 01:33:02 PM
I once was hard up for cash, so I took a day labor job from a temp service.

Me and another guy were sent to a McDonald's that was under construction. The foreman told us to sweep the lot.

So we spent an hour sweeping the entire parking lot immaculately, and went back to ask what we should do next. The foreman pointed to a place near the entrance, and told us that it needed more attention. 15 minutes later, we were able to sweep up about half of a dustpan's worth of dust, so we went back to ask what should be done next. The foreman then pointed to another spot near the dumpster that I was sure we did a good job sweeping, and then I finally understood what was going on.

So the other guy and I spent the rest of the day busily pushing our brooms around, relaxed but looking busy, until about 3:30 or so when the foreman called us over to help dump some trash from inside, then signed our pay chits with an extra 2 hours.

See, we got paid about $8/ hr. The temp company was paying that out of the $14-15/hr it was billing the construction company. The construction company was then billing the client about $20-25/hr for our services, and the foreman was getting paid extra for managing more workers.

And if anyone drove by to check up on us, there we were, working our butts off sweeping.an already clean parking lot.

I'm thinking this is kind of what's happening here.
 
2014-05-14 01:37:54 PM
I am a federal contractor in Missouri being paid to do essentially nothing, so I am getting a kick out of these replies.
 
2014-05-14 01:40:30 PM

ox45tallboy: I once was hard up for cash, so I took a day labor job from a temp service.

Me and another guy were sent to a McDonald's that was under construction. The foreman told us to sweep the lot.

So we spent an hour sweeping the entire parking lot immaculately, and went back to ask what we should do next. The foreman pointed to a place near the entrance, and told us that it needed more attention. 15 minutes later, we were able to sweep up about half of a dustpan's worth of dust, so we went back to ask what should be done next. The foreman then pointed to another spot near the dumpster that I was sure we did a good job sweeping, and then I finally understood what was going on.

So the other guy and I spent the rest of the day busily pushing our brooms around, relaxed but looking busy, until about 3:30 or so when the foreman called us over to help dump some trash from inside, then signed our pay chits with an extra 2 hours.

See, we got paid about $8/ hr. The temp company was paying that out of the $14-15/hr it was billing the construction company. The construction company was then billing the client about $20-25/hr for our services, and the foreman was getting paid extra for managing more workers.

And if anyone drove by to check up on us, there we were, working our butts off sweeping.an already clean parking lot.

I'm thinking this is kind of what's happening here.


And that's why "privatization" is so expensive.  Try telling that to the "but government!" crowd. Somehow when this subject comes up it completely escapes everyone's attention that for-profit companies are supposed to maximize their profits and that just paying three people and 100 shareholders, rather than one employee isn't actually cheaper in the long run, or better than hiring and training someone who will work for you long term.
 
2014-05-14 01:40:44 PM
Site is getting hammered right now, could not get on. Guess all the employees are running a DOS attack.
 
2014-05-14 01:44:05 PM
The enrollment period is over and little to no work is coming in. The contract for $114M (with extension options) was clearly meant to cover a period of work or a volume of work and it appears that one or the other has not been met.

Say what you will about corruption and whatever else, the majority of what is going on here looks like the end of a incorrectly bid government project wrapping up.

Of course this is all being "reported" by an anonymous informer with a bone to pick and which has not been verified.
 
2014-05-14 01:46:04 PM

lantawa: Sweet, sweet U.S. taxpayer gravy.....not too much more room at the trough, though...


What? There are plenty of things left to privatize. That is a huge trough.
 
2014-05-14 01:50:04 PM
Way to pick a fact-filled article, subby.
 
2014-05-14 01:50:18 PM
shiat, if it wasn't for privacy requirements you could put this on Mechanical Turk for a dollar an application. Hell, design the form right and you could anonymise the letters into boxes and pay someone a tenth of a cent per letter to enter them.
 
2014-05-14 01:51:50 PM

ampoliros: The enrollment period is over and little to no work is coming in. The contract for $114M (with extension options) was clearly meant to cover a period of work or a volume of work and it appears that one or the other has not been met.

Say what you will about corruption and whatever else, the majority of what is going on here looks like the end of a incorrectly bid government project wrapping up.

Of course this is all being "reported" by an anonymous informer with a bone to pick and which has not been verified.


I think you're exactly correct. Here's the contract summary.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has awarded Contract HHSM-500-2013-00118C to Serco Inc. for Eligibility Support services. Award was made to Serco Inc. through a full and open competition and will support the Federally-facilitated Marketplace and State-based Marketplaces for the Eligibility Support tasks under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The tasks in the associated Statement of Work include the intake, routing, review, and troubleshooting of applications submitted for enrollment into a Qualified Health Plan and for insurance affordability programs including, but not limited to, Advance Payment of Premium Tax Credits, Cost-Sharing Reductions, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Basic Health Program (where applicable), beginning on October 1, 2013.

This contract was awarded as a Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee type contract with a 12-month base period and four (4) 12-month option periods. The total potential contract value, including all option periods and optional tasks, is $1,248,871,357. The effective date of the contract is July 1, 2013.


So the contract will run through July 1st, 2014, at which time either an option can be extended or the contract can be closed-out. The potential value of the contract is not the contractors guarenteed base award, which is...

Contract Award Dollar Amount:
$114,307,266 (Base Period Required Tasks)
 
2014-05-14 01:52:24 PM
Is there another source for this story besides a tee vee staff from bumfark Missourah?
 
2014-05-14 01:58:38 PM
It's ratings sweeps month. This is the local CBS affiliate. Last week, the local NBC affiliate ran teasers for days: "ZOMG, gas cans are so dangerous! They can explode without any fire or anything! And there's a simple fix that they're JUST.NOT.DOING!

Turns out they were talking about the possibility of opening a plastic gas can and flicking a striker or something in front of it, and if the gas was hot and agitated just enough, and you mixed in some oxygen somehow, or something, it could ignite the fumes and cause an explosion. The fix was a metal screen. Did they tell you this during the commercial? Are you serious? A ten second explanation would have made it unnecessary to watch the news program.
 
2014-05-14 02:00:06 PM

ampoliros: The enrollment period is over and little to no work is coming in. The contract for $114M (with extension options) was clearly meant to cover a period of work or a volume of work and it appears that one or the other has not been met.

Say what you will about corruption and whatever else, the majority of what is going on here looks like the end of a incorrectly bid government project wrapping up.

Of course this is all being "reported" by an anonymous informer with a bone to pick and which has not been verified.


Yep. See also "why are we paying our teachers $56,069 a year when it's the middle of July! They aren't doing any work right now, it's pure waste!"
 
2014-05-14 02:01:32 PM

IvyLady: And that's why "privatization" is so expensive.  Try telling that to the "but government!" crowd. Somehow when this subject comes up it completely escapes everyone's attention that for-profit companies are supposed to maximize their profits and that just paying three people and 100 shareholders, rather than one employee isn't actually cheaper in the long run, or better than hiring and training someone who will work for you long term.


I never understood the concept behind "providing X service" being somehow more expensive than "providing X service + profit for the shareholders". How does it save us money to provide the same service AND pay for shareholders' profits? I'm sure we're better off buying things like office supplies and computers and the like, not so much for prison guards and other permanent employees like call center workers.

I'm not saying we should do away with capitalism completely, but this outsourcing crap just doesn't make much sense. It's not a responsible way of spending taxpayer dollars.
 
2014-05-14 02:03:03 PM

PDid: Is there another source for this story besides a tee vee staff from bumfark Missourah?


CBS affiliate for the St Louis area.

Still, there's not much to go on.
 
2014-05-14 02:12:57 PM

ox45tallboy: IvyLady: And that's why "privatization" is so expensive.  Try telling that to the "but government!" crowd. Somehow when this subject comes up it completely escapes everyone's attention that for-profit companies are supposed to maximize their profits and that just paying three people and 100 shareholders, rather than one employee isn't actually cheaper in the long run, or better than hiring and training someone who will work for you long term.

I never understood the concept behind "providing X service" being somehow more expensive than "providing X service + profit for the shareholders". How does it save us money to provide the same service AND pay for shareholders' profits? I'm sure we're better off buying things like office supplies and computers and the like, not so much for prison guards and other permanent employees like call center workers.

I'm not saying we should do away with capitalism completely, but this outsourcing crap just doesn't make much sense. It's not a responsible way of spending taxpayer dollars.


Theoretically if you are doing everything in-house there is less incentive for cost-saving than in a competitive bid process. The pressures from Congress to operate on a limited budget are about the same whether the work was outsourced or not, but the actual structural auditing of agencies is only as good as the people you put in charge to do it, and if someone is skimming a little off the top by working inefficiently/overestimating costs it's hard to prove it's going on without a good estimate of what the alternatives would have cost. Competitive bidding requires people put their money where their mouth is and gives stakes for overestimating (get outbid) or underestimating (lose your shirt on the job.)

Granted, this goes out the window when it comes to no-bid contracts or situations where there is very little negotiating power in the hands of the state (ex. how Blackwater used to hired former military members the second their initial enlistment period was up and "sell" them back to the US government at rates far higher than the US military could offer for a traditional reenlistment.)
 
2014-05-14 02:18:02 PM
So how do you hurl buts(butts)?
 
2014-05-14 02:26:42 PM

Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?


The other day I went to the grocery store late at night.  Get this, they pay people to just farking stand there at the checkout lanes.  That's it, they just farking stand there, like they were waiting for something.  I still can't figure it out.
 
2014-05-14 02:30:07 PM

Grungehamster: Granted, this goes out the window when it comes to no-bid contracts or situations where there is very little negotiating power in the hands of the state (ex. how Blackwater used to hired former military members the second their initial enlistment period was up and "sell" them back to the US government at rates far higher than the US military could offer for a traditional reenlistment.)


There was more to that than just graft (although there was plenty of that). If the US military screwed up somehow, or otherwise found them in a circumstance that could make them look bad, it made the whole US look bad. The "contractors", however, could be exempted from the UCMJ and "penalized" per their contract if anything bad happened, without it looking bad on the whole country. At least, that was the theory.
 
2014-05-14 02:37:42 PM
Wow, whiny article.

Look, you can employ the majority of people, OR you can have employed people be productive.
Two sides, same coin. Pick one.
 
2014-05-14 02:42:25 PM
Yeah, typical KMOV muckraking. They're known for that here in St. Louis.

Here's the thing. This isn't a group defrauding the government to the tune of billions of dollars. They've been contracted to perform a service that isn't being utilized by the public and the employees have to sit there and be available during the duration of the contract, which will likely be canceled when its review rolls around.

It sucks that we're paying for people to sit around and do nothing all day. It sucks for the employees too, believe me. But this is how government contracts tend to work, and why government is terrible at operating like a business.
 
2014-05-14 02:47:14 PM

secularsage: But this is how government contracts tend to work, and why government is terrible at operating like a business contract oversight.


Though it's a bit like flex-time in the private sector - "We'll pay you a sum of money from 1JAN through 31DEC to get these things done. So long as your work is handed in on time, you can be in the office 4 hours, 40 hours, or 400 hours - we really don't care."

It would be nice if the government took back some things that got contracted out, but I imagine the cries of sorshajizzms would be deafening, and possibly the tears shed over X many new GS-level employees ("impossible to fire DERP!") could refill the Reflecting Pool.
 
2014-05-14 02:49:25 PM

secularsage: Yeah, typical KMOV muckraking. They're known for that here in St. Louis.

Here's the thing. This isn't a group defrauding the government to the tune of billions of dollars. They've been contracted to perform a service that isn't being utilized by the public and the employees have to sit there and be available during the duration of the contract, which will likely be canceled when its review rolls around.

It sucks that we're paying for people to sit around and do nothing all day. It sucks for the employees too, believe me. But this is how government contracts tend to work, and why government is terrible at operating like a business.


Speaking as a federal contractor, exactly this. My job is network admin/maintenance. If there are no issues with the network on any given day, I don't have any work to do. That doesn't mean I can just take off for the day. I still have to sit at my desk for 8 hours on the off chance that a ticket will come in. I'm paid either way.

I don't get brownie points for being ambitious and trying to change things. The whole point of my job is to upset the status quo as little as possible. I can't gun for a promotion because there's nowhere to move up to. I don't have a quota of work I'm required to do. In fact, the less work I have to do the better I look, because that means the network uptime is closer to 100%.

I'm pretty good at Freecell.
 
2014-05-14 02:54:06 PM

secularsage: Yeah, typical KMOV muckraking. They're known for that here in St. Louis.

Here's the thing. This isn't a group defrauding the government to the tune of billions of dollars. They've been contracted to perform a service that isn't being utilized by the public and the employees have to sit there and be available during the duration of the contract, which will likely be canceled when its review rolls around.

It sucks that we're paying for people to sit around and do nothing all day. It sucks for the employees too, believe me. But this is how government contracts tend to work, and why government is terrible at operating like a business.


Except that they actually did have a job to do it sounds like, it's just that the high-frequency period of the contract is only 6 months of the year term. Granted, maybe they should be using more temp labor to account for that, but then again this is an anonymous tipster so who knows how many people were working there at peak and are working there now? The idea is that we paid $114 million or more to them to set up this office and process applications for a year, and now that the deadline passed roughly a month ago there really isn't a steady stream of applications, as anticipated when the contract was written. We know they didn't process a single application in August or September either considering the exchanges weren't set up yet but they were contracted from July 2013: scandalous, right?
 
2014-05-14 02:55:34 PM

show me: It's ratings sweeps month. This is the local CBS affiliate. Last week, the local NBC affiliate ran teasers for days: "ZOMG, gas cans are so dangerous! They can explode without any fire or anything! And there's a simple fix that they're JUST.NOT.DOING!

Turns out they were talking about the possibility of opening a plastic gas can and flicking a striker or something in front of it, and if the gas was hot and agitated just enough, and you mixed in some oxygen somehow, or something, it could ignite the fumes and cause an explosion. The fix was a metal screen. Did they tell you this during the commercial? Are you serious? A ten second explanation would have made it unnecessary to watch the news program.


Odd thing. Seems like the Fox affiliate here is the least sensationalistic of the bunch.

But not by much. KMOV has really gone overboard with the sensationalism lately.
 
2014-05-14 02:55:52 PM

secularsage: Yeah, typical KMOV muckraking. They're known for that here in St. Louis.

Here's the thing. This isn't a group defrauding the government to the tune of billions of dollars. They've been contracted to perform a service that isn't being utilized by the public and the employees have to sit there and be available during the duration of the contract, which will likely be canceled when its review rolls around.

It sucks that we're paying for people to sit around and do nothing all day. It sucks for the employees too, believe me. But this is how government contracts tend to work, and why government is terrible at operating like a business.


My guess is that contractors of this sort might have to promise to employ people at a certain level.  So, if they estimate that they will need $1 million to staff a state's facilities for 200 man hours/week they can't at any time employ fewer than 25 people.  The government has an interest in not letting the contractor (esp. a foreign company) dump a bunch of employees partway through a contract without a reduction in fees.
 
2014-05-14 02:57:49 PM

Alphax: PDid: Is there another source for this story besides a tee vee staff from bumfark Missourah?

CBS affiliate for the St Louis area.

Still, there's not much to go on.


It was either this or the latest "who got shot in North St. Louis" report.
 
2014-05-14 03:03:10 PM

Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?


Why do you hate the private sector?
 
2014-05-14 03:05:44 PM
"They're told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button every 10 minutes, no more than every 10 minutes," the employee said. "They're monitored, to hopefully look for an application."

I'll bet I can write a script to automate that for, oh, $100 million. I can give you a better estimate after I've looked at what language I'll have to use. I'll even throw in a free year of maintenance.
 
2014-05-14 03:08:19 PM

Witty_Retort: Nabb1: James!: Yeah, I imagine they wouldn't have many applications to review now that the window is closed.

So why are we paying them to do anything?

Why do you hate the private sector?


I was thinking the same thing, that this would be a much better situation if it were government employees being paid for nothing.
 
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