Archive for category Georgia

Cool Stuff: A Georgia Town Takes The People’s Business Private

I got a kick out of this article, and I really enjoyed reading the contract methods and processes that these towns went through in order to accomplish efficiency and privatization. There are a lot of great quotes in this one, and I figured I would share a few that jumped out at me.

The first is about the process in which the city of Sandy Springs moved to this privatized model and how it seems to be working really well for them.

As a fan of Ronald Reagan and the economist Friedrich Hayek, Mr. Porter came naturally to the notion that Sandy Springs could push “the model” to its nth degree. His philosophical inclinations were formed by a life spent in private enterprise, and cemented by a visit to Weston, Fla., a town that had begun as a series of gated communities.
Mr. Porter tells this and other stories in “Creating the New City of Sandy Springs,” a book that will leave readers with one indelible lesson: incorporating a city is dull. Super duper dull. The book is composed mostly of the codicils, requests for proposals and definitions of duties that were required to jolt Sandy Springs to life. Without a love of minutiae and a very long attention span, forget it. But this is intended as a blueprint, not a gripping narrative. Mr. Porter regards the success of Sandy Springs as a way out of the financial morass that has engulfed so many cities in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
“Many are on the verge of bankruptcy,” Mr. Porter says. “They have significant unfunded liabilities, like pensions and other benefits. It’s almost like a poison that a lot of people are unaware of, and this model could be an answer.”

There are a couple of things here that I recognized, that has some commonalities with today’s contingency contracting game in the war. That FOB’s in war zones are basically small cities, that are a public/private partnership in a few ways. FOB privatization is quite evident if you ever have a chance to work on one. From the KBR chow halls, to the Dyncorp auto shops or aircraft servicing, to CADG/IAP construction, to security performed by contractors on the perimeter and the various internal camps. The key offensive duties are performed by the military, but everything else is privatized.

Not only that, but this move to privatize as much as you can during wartime also reflects budgeting realities. A contractor does not have legacy costs like a soldier does. Things like a pension and other long term personal costs are things that add up over the life of that veteran, and you do not have to worry about that with contractors. To give you an example of how big the costs are, and how worried the pentagon is about these legacy costs, check this quote out from another article I found.

The Pentagon’s retirement benefits bill will only get larger after 2014, creating a major financial problem as annual military spending is slated to decline after a decade of war.
Yearly military retirement payments alone are expected to more than double by 2035, growing from $52.2 billion in 2011 to $116.9 billion, according to an estimate prepared by the Defense Business Board, which reports directly to the defense secretary.
More broadly, the Bipartisan Policy Center study further highlights what some call the military’s “people problem.”
“In 2017, the DOD plans to have 100,000 fewer troops, but still spend as much on personnel as today,” states the report.Military officials said they have spent around $245 billion on personnel costs in 2010, more than a third of the $636 billion appropriated that year to the Defense Department. Some analysts put the actual number at more than $300 billion.
Pentagon officials are increasingly concerned about the growing costs, saying health care expenditures alone have swelled over the last decade by over $30 billion, from $19 billion to $50 billion annually.
James Jones, a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama and a retired Marine Corps general, told reporters last week that when any organization spends so much on its employees it has “big problems.”

I highlighted that last part, just to emphasize that what is happening in the military is what was happening to Sandy Springs, and this city made the jump to privatize just so they can stay in the black.

The other part that perked me up is the contracting method that the city uses. I liked their Miss America analogy. lol

Mr. McDonough, the Sandy Springs city manager, says the town has sidestepped such problems. The key, he explains, lay in the fine art of drafting contracts.
Initially, and for the first five and a half years of its life, Sandy Springs used just one company, CH2M Hill, based in Englewood, Colo., to handle every service it delivered. Mr. McDonough says CH2M saved the town millions compared with the cost of hiring a conventional public work force, but last year Sandy Springs sliced the work into pieces and solicited competitive bids.
When the competition was over, the town had spread duties to a handful of corporations and total annual outlays dropped by $7 million. (Representatives of CH2M, which still has a call-center contract, said at the time that they were “deeply disappointed” by the results, but wished the city well, according to a local news report.)
To dissuade companies from raising prices or reducing the quality of service, the town awarded contracts to a couple of losing bidders for every winner it hired. The contracts do not come with any pay or any work — unless the winning bidder that prevailed fails to deliver. It’s a bit like the Miss America pageant anointing the runner-up as the one who will fulfill the winner’s duties if, for some reason, Miss America cannot.
“In most cases, Miss America serves her whole term,” Mr. McDonough says, warming to the analogy. “But every once in a while something happens and they don’t have to run a whole new competition.”

I kept scratching my head here to see if this contracting method was derived from something being done in contingency contracting now, or if there is a different term for it. (feel free to say so in the comments)

The big one here is that the town found a way to navigate the principal-agent problem, and write up contracts that benefit both parties. That the city actually has a means of booting out the poor contractor and instantly go to the backup contractor, as opposed to going through the whole rebidding process again. Nice.

It is that mechanism that allows a city to exercise their right to demand good service, and punish for bad service without a major shock to the system. If only today’s contingency contracting for wars was set up to be more fluid like this. To be able to have standby contractors, ready to jump in if another contractor fails to deliver, and have a government contracting agency that actually fires poor contractors when they suck. That would be great, but I also realize that the size/scope/complexity of contingency contracting just doesn’t lend itself to easily do something like that. But still, there might be something we can learn from Sandy Springs…. -Matt

 

 

A Georgia Town Takes the People’s Business Private
By David Segal
June 23, 2012
If your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb of 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker.
The entire operation is housed in a generic, one-story industrial park, along with a restaurant and a gym. And though the place has a large staff, none are on the public payroll. O.K., seven are, including the city manager. But unless you chance into one of them, the people you meet here work for private companies through a variety of contracts.
Applying for a business license? Speak to a woman with Severn Trent, a multinational company based in Coventry, England. Want to build a new deck on your house? Chat with an employee of Collaborative Consulting, based in Burlington, Mass. Need a word with people who oversee trash collection? That would be the URS Corporation, based in San Francisco.
Even the city’s court, which is in session on this May afternoon, next to the revenue division, is handled by a private company, the Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, Calif. The company’s staff is in charge of all administrative work, though the judge, Lawrence Young, is essentially a legal temp, paid a flat rate of $100 an hour.
“I think of it as being a baby judge,” says Mr. Young, who spends most of his time drafting trusts as a lawyer in a private practice, “because we don’t have to deal with the terrible things that you find in Superior Court.”
With public employee unions under attack in states like Wisconsin, and with cities across the country looking to trim budgets, behold a town built almost entirely on a series of public-private partnerships — a system that leaders around here refer to, simply, as “the model.”

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Fish And Game: Jager Pro Thermal Hog Control

     “I quickly found that hunting in the daytime, the traditional way, I wasn’t very effective… I saw how effective thermal technology was in combat, and from what I see, farmers and ranchers are at war with feral hogs in the United States. So, it just made common sense to me,” said Rod.

     Wow, this is cool. What do you get when you combine a combat veteran, thermal night vision equipment, military grade weapons, and cutting edge hunting methods for guided pig hunts?  You get one hell of a hog eradication service, and that is what this country needs right now.

    Enter Jager Pro Thermal Hog Control out of Columbus, Georgia.  This company is not only brutally efficient in eradicating these things, but they are also in the business of taking folks out on guided night hunts to turn a profit.  Just imagine if Jager Pro became a franchise and these guys were able to take this concept to the next level? (they do day hunts as well)

     Feral hogs are a huge problem and I have talked about this in the past.  Even here in Idaho there are sightings of feral pigs in the south and this state’s game officials are concerned about their possible growth here. In Texas and the rest of the south, they are really bad and it is an all out war to eradicate these things. The amount of damage to crops and land they do is costing millions and the reproduction rates of pig are worse than rabbits. It is often referred to as the ‘Pig Bomb’.

     The other thing that jumped out at me was the concept of the ‘Judas Pig’.  Basically this is a strategy derived from a method of eradicating goats in Hawaii back in the eighties. The way it works is they strap a locator beacon on a pig and let them loose in an area. Because these animals are social, they tend to look for their fellow pigs or goats and graze or mate with them. If hunters want to find their prey, they just follow the Judas Pig (usually a young female pig or gilt) and then kill her new found buddies.  It is a method that is being employed all over the world with excellent success.

     Does this sound familiar guys and gals?  Pseudo-operations is what this is, and this is a very simplistic example of how effective it can be when applied to hog hunting.  The trick for warfare is finding that pseudo operator (s) that will lead you to the enemy–either willingly or unwillingly. Which is an interesting question?  I wonder if any Judas Pigs figured out that they were causing so much death and purposely avoided contact with other pigs? hmmm.

     I was thinking what would be really cool for this deal was to combine the Judas Pig concept with a geo-locating mobile app for smart phones.  That way hunters could participate in following the various Judas Pigs that have been released into the wild, all by pulling out a smart phone and seeing what lights up on their GPS enabled map. Jager Pro could offer this app to customers on a subscription basis, or use some other method of monetizing the thing.  Each Jager Pro pin on the map could have different types of information, like if it was a female or male, or how many pigs have been eradicated by using this pig.  It would be one way of making it easier for hunters to do their thing out there, and quicken the eradication process.

     Also, in Texas I am told that you can sell wild pig meat.  But the animal has to be alive when you sell it. They want to test the pig for diseases and whatnot before slaughtering it and selling the meat.  But still, that would be one way of making a little coin off of this deal. Very innovative, and Rod Pinkston of Jager Pro definitely gets a thumbs up from FJ. -Matt

Link to Jager Pro website here.

Facebook for Jager Pro here.

The War On Wild Hogs Using Military Tactics

Using thermal-imaging technology to put the crosshairs on feral hogs.

By Drew Hall

June 2008

 It’s 0100 hours and pitch-black dark as my team and I await our target’s arrival. We’d been briefed just hours before of the mass amount of damage our targets have caused. These beasts have destroyed other’s means of life, they’ve taken hard-earned crops away from farmers and they’ve had little to no regret about any of it. At least, not until tonight. For most of them, tonight will be the end. And for those who survive the assault, they won’t be returning to this area any more.

We lay in silence — waiting. Our team leader whispers the targets should be arriving any minute, their nightly routine rarely changes much. Little did they know, their own routine would be the death of them. They spend the heat of the day hiding in the swamps and thick woods, then they leave the safety of the swamps to devastate the land around them.

Suddenly, we spot a group of targets at more than a half-mile away. Our thermal-imagery optics allow us to view the presence of heat at extreme distances. We decide to start the stalk instead of waiting them out. We need to complete the mission quickly; we don’t have time to wait. After an hour-long stalk in a tactical formation, we are within 50 yards of our targets which have no idea anything is amiss. We spread out in kneeling and prone positions and take aim. The first shot rings out as muzzle fire exits our leader’s rifle. A barrage of rifle fire follows as all but a few of the targets fall to the ground. Some manage to escape, but the chain of command has been broken, and they won’t return.

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News: Bush Sends US Troops to Georgia

     And now things get interesting.  The move I see with this, is to hold Russia to it’s word of a ceasefire.  But the bigger message is that we are going in, and if Russia has bigger war plans, then it better not conflict with our plans of providing aid.  This could be risky, because the Russians could very well play the game of swinging their arms wildly and saying “I am not stopping, I am not stopping” while they walk towards us.  And for that matter, I do hope that there are a few Combat Air Controllers with this small contingent of troops that are going in.  And with all air on deck….  

     The other thing about this is that our administration is making their move.  It’s risky, but they have to do something to save some face.  Russia seems to have no intention of honoring a ceasefire and the whole world is watching, including the other break away republics in the region.  Stay tuned to see how this plays out. -Head Jundi 

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Bush sends US troops to Georgia

The US is sending troops to embattled Georgia in the form of a humanitarian aid exercise, President George Bush said.

Mr Bush said military planes would deliver supplies in a move which would put American forces in the heart of the region.

The president said he was concerned that Russia might be violating the ceasefire in Georgia and he expected all Russian forces to withdraw.

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Jobs: Executive Protection Specialist, Washington DC and Georgia

 Department of Commerce

 

Security Spec (Executive Protection) ZA-0080-III (LK)

Vacancy Number:  OS-OSY-2008-0035  

Salary: $58,206.00 to $90,698.00 

Open Date: 6/17/2008 

Close Date: 7/1/2008

Who may apply: Public

Locations:   WASHINGTON, DC ; BRUNSWICK, GA 

Department: Department Of Commerce

Agency: Office of the Secretary of Commerce

Sub Agency: U.S. Department of Commerce

Job Announcement Number:  OS-OSY-2008-0035

Salary Range: 58,206.00 – 90,698.00 USD per year

Series & Grade: ZA-0080-03/03

Position Information: Career/Career-Conditional Permanent

Promotion Potential: 03

Duty Locations: 1 vacancy – Washington DC Metro Area, DC

Who May Be Considered:  US Citizens and Status Candidates

Note: This job contains selective factors: refer to the qualifications section for more detail.  This position qualifies for Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) retirement.

Job Summary:

The Office of Security is looking for bright, energetic and dedicated professionals committed to making a difference by assisting Department of Commerce leaders reduce the security risks in emergency management, anti-terrorism, and counterespionage.The selected candidate will support the Department’s goal of keeping the Secretary and his designees staff from the very real threat of harm.

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