He actually sent us a great explainer — essentially, his thought, but it was so good, I thought it was worth sharing:
Not sure there’s a single “issue,” but I suggest address the decade behind us as the “decade of the feeding frenzies.” The decade has brought us wondrous new technologies for convergence, mobility, and social networking and aggravating, enhanced threats against those technologies.
But sandwiched between two recessions that have contributed to increased competition for federal contracting dollars, we have witnessed wishful pursuits of business that have many times been less than rational. In the months following 9/11, we saw small companies betting their whole business and large companies betting entire business units on “homeland security.” After “boots and suits,” what was left did not meet expectations. The ensuing wars have yielded new opportunities for technology contractors, but “beans and bullets” have been more important. The rise of the Intelligence Community also brought new opportunities, but evolved into more of a tightened re-alignment of existing resources. The feeding frenzies often targeted left the participants less than satisfied.
Healthcare reform has been a big topic, and healthcare IT was to be a big thing. After establishing an Office of the National Coordinator, the wheels fell off that wagon when the participants and collaborators found information exchange was a hard thing to do. Health information technologies incentives were tacked on to the ARRA and so we’re starting over again, but most of the appropriations for those provisions are going to commercial healthcare providers and practitioners who haven’t shown a lot of excitement about them.
And then there’s the icing on the cake: the stimulus bill. When industry got excited about the $787B price tag and decided to chase those dollars, many of the companies in pursuit were slow to realize that less than 8% of the economic stimulus would be destined for federal contractors. And, typically, directed toward existing contractors working existing programs. There are many (appropriate) instances of less-than-fully-competitive acquisition procedures.
We’ve certainly seen ups and downs during the past decade, but the net-net of it is that growth in contract spending has only risen 2% in that time (CAGR GFY2001-2009). The federal market is still a great place to be—where you can make meaningful contributions to our national security and well-being, and be reasonably compensated for your contributions. But you have to be rational about approaching the market so you don’t end up committing to a feeding frenzy when there’s not enough in the trough for everyone.