One Person’s “Red Tape” Is Another Person’s Following Legitimate Legal Processes: And That’s OK

For many years, I carpooled in DC with a person who worked a lot in fire. We had more than our share of conversations about air tankers…this was about 10-20 years ago. It seems like there’s always something going on with them. A good business to get into for young people who want to follow the same issue for a long time.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that Senator Udall was complaining about Forest Service “red tape” in this article, when the delay seems to have been caused by appeals of contracting procedures. But there is an emergency clause, that Udall seems to be thinking should be invoked. I like the idea of agencies being able to cut through “red tape” of all kinds; but perhaps different mechanisms could be invoked for different kinds of “red tape” or procedural processes..

is a post by Bob Berwyn and below is an excerpt:

Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is urgin private contractors to respect the U.S. Forest Service’s upcoming decision to award contracts to several U.S. companies to supply next-generation air tankers.

More information on the air tanker contract issue is online at Wildfire Today and Fire Aviation, where a recent post indicates the Forest Service expects to finalize contracts in the next couple of months.

Protests and challenges of past contract awards have already delayed the Forest Service’s acquisition of seven next-generation air tankers. Additional protests could leave Colorado and the West without adequate tanker resources for the 2013 wildfire season, Udall said.

Federal contracting rules allow private companies not awarded government contracts to protest contracting decisions without penalty. Previous protests by unsuccessful bidders have already delayed the delivery of the next-generation air tankers by at least eight months. Federal agencies, however, are allowed to override a protest in cases where there are urgent and compelling circumstances.

“Air tankers are critical firefighting resources that can save lives and prevent small blazes from becoming catastrophic wildfires,” Udall said. “When I met with Northern Colorado firefighting and emergency-management officials this week, they all agreed that we need to ensure that Colorado and the Forest Service have the resources they need to fight fires now. If contractors continue to challenge agency decisions, I will urge the Forest Service to use its emergency authorities to override the challenges and finalize the tanker contracts as soon as possible. Colorado cannot wait.”

9 thoughts on “One Person’s “Red Tape” Is Another Person’s Following Legitimate Legal Processes: And That’s OK”

  1. HI Sharon, thanks for re-posting this. I published it as kind of a placeholder for myself, a reminder to follow up. I used “red tape” in the broadest sense, but the release from Udall (and reading some of the related posts) made me wonder what exactly the other companies were protesting. None of the other materials I could find seemed to get at the heart of the matter. Are there any substantive issues those companies have raised, or is it just sour grapes? And part of this, of course, is Udall speaking to his constituents, wanting to appear like he’s “on it,” when it comes to addressing wildfire issues. Any leads, links, input or suggestions appreciated.

  2. Something doesn’t smell quite right about this story.

    I would think air tanker service would be on a GSA schedule. Or at least a bidders list for federal procurement.

    I would think air tanker service could be sole sourced if the timing is urgent.

    I would think the administrative judge would have ruled on urgency with potential damages to the protester in the case where the protester could make the case that the award was made in error.

    Someone from the legislative branch mucking about in the business of the Executive Branch? Is the legislation that established the Executive Branch’s power in error? In need of amending?

    Was there a make of buy analysis? California owns their own air tankers as far as I know. Did Colorado investigate state government ownership of tankers? OMB A-76 applied to state purchases? 48 CFR, Federal Acquisition Regulations?

    In some government agencies, contracting is embedded in the organization. In others, contracting services are provided from a pool of people who know procurement regs, but don’t know the market for the commodity being purchased. Communications between two branches of the Executive Branch?? Really? Is that what is happening here?

  3. Sharon, I don’t see a method for contacting you other than to leave a comment, so I’ll put my thoughts here. On this post there is a photo of a B-17 air tanker that I took and that I posted on my web site. It is copyrighted, but you did not ask permission. If you had asked, I would have granted permission, but since you did not, I demand that you take it down. If you want to reproduce copyrighted photos from my web site in the future, ask first. If there are other photos that I took that you have published on your web site, take those down as well.

    • Jeez, Bill: For a very long time (10+) years it has been expected that once something is sent into cyberspace, it’s pretty much free game — especially if something can be referenced or (better) linked to a parent site. Do a Google search on air tanker images to get an idea. This seems like a poor way to expand your readership. How many comments have you been getting on your own blog lately? I remember being 1/2 the total (“one”) on one of your own posts recently — mostly because I followed a link that Sharon posted here.

  4. Bill, I did not ask permission and I apologize. I thought by posting it with the caption ” Wildfire Today” it would get people curious to go to your site and see what’s there, adding to your site volume.I think that was the first time I had been to your site which I found interesting and thought others on this blog would as well, but should have asked.

  5. A point of clarification….as I understand it ALL photos are copyrighted. They are also available for reproduction under the rules of “fair use”. Something I learned about last year through the efforts of J William Gibson from Earth Island Journal.

    Bill has every right to “demand”. Sharon, you have every right to use if you choose to invoke “free use”, the categories of which the “Purpose” of this blog fit.

    All that aside, I would have said the exact same thing as you did Sharon.

    • Sharon, you could probably easily put a disclaimor in the “Purpose” section to the effect of “all photos posted on this site are reproduced under the rules of fair use and are intended to be used for educational and informative purposes only”.

  6. Ahhh. JZ, that is the difference between Relational World and Legalistic World. Bill has his copy “rights”, I may have some “right” under “fair use.” But I don’t see the world as conflicting rights, but choosing to pursue harmony and right relationship among humans, and with other earth beings.


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