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RE: Ridiculous parts prices (almost no Q content)
>>This reminds me a bit of the $10000 military toilet seats. Can you say
'senate subcommittee' hearing? I thought so....<<
Robert Myers responds: >>
Can you say $10K toilet seats which cost perhaps $20? The other $9,980
probably went into the pentagon's (or CIA's or NSA's) "black budget" for
which accounting seems not to apply. It was probably administered by
someone like Oliver North to buy drugs from the contras for our consumption
here in the good old Yew Ess of Aye. It was not pricing gone wild. It was
a seriously out of control portion of our government. :-(<<
Okay, the US Government does enough stuff out of control that
it shouldn't be hit with conspiracy theories on dumb stuff it
does "innocently". I have used the infamous toilet seat and had coffee
the coffee maker. Believe me, there was no money diverted from
those products, it was spent to buy them. The problem is with the
Federal Acquisition Regulations and military specifications.
The FAR is a social engineering document meant to insure the
continued existence of small business, particularly small women
and minority-owned businesses. It is dictated by the Executive
Branch and is applicable for all acquisitions, not just the
DOD. The official theory is that in wartime, the country would need to depend
on these small businesses with their local infrastructures vice large
businesses requiring nationwide infrastructure which may no longer exist.
In theory, that's great. In practice, the small business buys the product
from the large business and sells it to the government at a substantial markup.
Military specifications: the end users "decide" what the optimum
specifications of a device will be. They then present this "specification"
to the contractors. Manufacturers of similar products have to either
prove their commercial product meets those requirements or modify their
product to meet them. Then the cost of the modification and/or testing,
packing, and required documentation is added to the commercial cost
of the item and split between the units produced. In the case of toilet seats
and coffee makers, the quantity requirement was very low (one each per
P-3 aircraft) while the modifications were extensive making the end item
prohibitively expensive. But the seat (actually a large faring including a
seat fits the head perfectly and provides stablization for the user during
flight and the coffee maker brews perfectly in excess of 1.0 G.
No one thought to challenge the need for such specifications up front.
I tried at one point when buying a $250 Snap-On socket for a "special
application." Didn't work. So, I changed sides and now SELL to the
government vice buying for it. (Hey; it pays for the parts from the Audi
dealer!) The only positive action, IMHO, to come out of this administration
(besides the entertainment) is the 1994 FASA act which allows the
government to buy standard commercial products which will meet its
needs without the expense of milspecs.
Thank you, VP Gore... now lay off the tree-hugger routine!
None of this, however, explains why Audi wants $275 for an oil cooler line!
(I had one fabricated from scratch at 1/10th the cost.)
Lake Mills, WI