- - Tuesday, May 27, 2014


What a difference 40 years makes. In 1972, I had the good fortune to be a member of the technical team that evaluated the proposals from three contractors to build the first generation of GPS satellites. There was also a financial team evaluating the fiscal status of the three contractors to make sure that they had the financial wherewithal to do the job.

The technical evaluation team spent about a week at a secure government facility in San Pedro, Calif. The team consisted of approximately 50 to 80 scientists and engineers with varying education and experience. The young members mostly had doctorates, while the silvered-haired team members had about 20 to 30 years of experience apiece if they didn’t have advanced degrees. The team represented many different aspects of aerospace engineering, physics and mathematics. They were divided into different sub-teams to look at different areas of the proposals. They communicated with each other during the week that we were together. If anyone wanted to discuss some special area, he was able to find a colleague who might be able to discuss it. One area that I remember that generated a lot of discussion was “relativity.” At that time, this was one of the first technical projects where “relativity” had to be taken into account.

At the end of the week, the scorecards of the technical and fiscal teams were collected. A panel was selected, and it chose the winner based on those evaluations. It seems obvious that a wise decision was made. GPS is one of the most successful programs initiated and carried out by our government. After all, who does not use GPS in some fashion?

It seems apparent that the process for selecting a contractor for Obamacare did not subscribe to the same standards that were in place and used several decades ago. It is sad to see the level to which our government is deteriorating.


Arnold, Md.

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