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By Thomas Phippen
Some bureaucrats and federal contractors likely chuckled when they saw an odd request on the federal government’s contracting website Wednesday.
Most titles on fedbizopps.gov (FBO), which is like Craigslist for the many, many goods and services the government buys every day, are downright boring.
But a post from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest contracting office that appeared Wednesday showed some humor, if not some bureaucratic frustration.
The post simply said, in all capital letters, “DON’T KNOW HOW TO DELETE THESE.”
“It was user error,” Alex Wingert, the contracting specialist who created the post, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Wingert created the post in error, but didn’t want to spend time learning how to delete it. So he put in a nonsense project title so no one would be confused, and moved on.
“It’s government efficiency at work,” Wingert said. “Rather than spend hours trying to figure out how to delete it, I posted and moved on.”
“I was hoping someone would find it funny,” Wingert said.
The FBO website is the massive online marketplace where the government buys goods and services from private contractors. Most of the $471.8 billion the government spent through contracts in 2016 was managed through the FBO website.
Agencies post solicitations, announce project details, accept bids from private companies, and eventually select the final contractor through fbo.gov, where every communication is eventually archived and available to the public.
The number and variety of projects posted on FBO is astounding: Everything from ordering surplus cheese to give dairy farmers a cash boost, to searching for engineering firms to design the border wall with Mexico, goes through the FBO site.
If an agency needs something and it’s not a top-secret weapon, some contracting specialist will likely have to go through the acquisitions process to buy it. Some universities — George Washington University, Bellevue, the Florida Institute of Technology, to name a few — offer graduate degree programs where students learn how to spend the government’s money.
Wingert’s moment of bureaucratic, insider humor will be publicly archived forever. Because the FBO site is the primary vehicle the government uses to communicate with contractors, the posts, contracts and communications are archived and accessible to the public.
Wingert is a contract specialist, and said for the most part, using the FBO site is pretty intuitive. “It’s mostly pretty easy to use,” Wingert said. “They have a lot of videos and resources on how do things.”
A few hours after Wingert’s post, the same contracting office posted a notice on another Coast Guard project aimed at alerting small businesses to upcoming construction projects. The post title reads: “Small Business Events: Information on Doing Business with U.S. Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center Construction – Acquisition Planning Forecast System (APFS) FY17 2nd Quarter.”
So the government’s acquisition is back to normal.
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