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Bureaucops.

I like most cops, but not all of them.

I wanted to say that at the outset, just so you won't get the wrong idea.

The cops I like tend to wear uniforms -- you know, blue with the kind of hat that the bus drivers used to wear, or with the funny tall rounded hats you see around Piccadilly Circus. Most of all, I like the ones who wear the military uniforms you saw in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Desert Storm. They were cops too, very much so. So are the ones wearing United Nations uniforms in Bosnia, Somalia and other troubled regions of this planet. There seems to be more need than ever for a world police force.

Now let's get to the ones I don't like, the ones without uniforms. I'm not talking about types like Elliot Ness and Sgt. Friday. I put the police detectives, people with the FBI and all those real cops who don't wear uniforms in the first category. The ones I like.

The ones that I'm liking less and less these days are the bureaucratic cops -- you know, the watchdogs whose job it is to provide oversight, to protect against fraud, waste, abuse, to blow whistles.

I'm not saying that the military procurement process has been without blemish. There have been instances of fraud, waste and abuse. But for the most part, these have been brought to light and corrected by the doers and not the whistle blowers.

Face it -- if as a member of a government oversight agency your charter is to find fault, then find fault you will. Human nature being what it is, some of the bureaucrats who staff these oversight agencies perceive that it is definitely not in their best career interests to say anything good about anything. For the most part, the agencies they work for were either created by Congress as its police force (the GAO) or had their roles expanded by congressional pressure (the DOD's Office of Operational Test and Evaluation).

All too frequently we end up with programs unfairly or unnecessarily delayed or canceled. At best, the doers in operational or acquisition roles must spend interminable hours responding to requests for reams of data to justify requests to proceed. It's particularly galling when these "bureaucops" know little to nothing about the technology, the operational needs, the threats or the program or system under scrutiny. Lest I unfairly tar all with the same brush, I must also add that often the oversight agencies are so understaffed and underfunded that their invariably superficial and negative assessments become foregone conclusions.

In the final analysis, the blame for this situation lies less with the bureaucops themselves than with their masters. Actually, it lies with the peacetime attitudes toward the military of a liberal legislature. With all the pressures to cut military spending, those on Capitol Hill welcome a negative report from the bureaucops that makes their appropriations and authorization jobs that much easier.

If the shooting starts again, that attitude will change overnight.

But the damage will have already been irreversibly done.

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Title Annotation:US government watchdogs and defense procurement
Author:Gershanoff, Hal
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Words:514
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