This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 5, 2010 5:29 PM. The previous post in this blog was A 13-point pickup in Week 13. The next post in this blog is Dumb and dumber. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Go by Cadillac

When New Jersey's hard-core governor killed the unnecessary new tunnel project under the Hudson River, we applauded. But what he's doing now is less admirable. Rather than pay $271 million in damages for breaching agreements that the state had previously signed to help build the thing, he's planning to fight the agreements in court. So far, not so bad -- but he's hiring a big-bucks Washington, D.C. law firm to do the state's legal work, with some partners being billed out at more than $800 an hour.

That is not fiscal responsibility. If the state's in-house lawyers can't get the job done, the governor should be hiring a New Jersey law firm at a fraction of the price of the folks in D.C. Or perhaps he should just settle, pay some damages, and note that it was much better than signing onto a black hole of future cost overruns.

Comments (7)

They'll try to justify it by saying it will cost a fraction of the quarter million dollars at stake in the litigation.

Quarter million? They wish. That's a lunch for these guys.

Oops. That should be "quarter billion". With these hourly rates, I could easily see the bills approaching a quarter million in a month or two of work.

Progressives are salavating for a "macaca" moment.

The hourly rates are high and the article is right about the actual billing mix likely to skew towards partners because that's the way PB does business, you get lots of partner work.

PB doesn't pad hours and IMHO is the best in the business when it comes to handling contested matters having significant legal, regulatory and political dimensions. So if I were a New Jersey resident, in view of the major $$'s involved, I would give Christie a pass on this one, and maybe even a thumbs up, assuming he doesn't habitually go with the high brow for lesser returns.

"should be hiring a New Jersey law firm at a fraction of the price"

I realize this probably more of a comment on the relative worth of NJ vs. DC lawyers, but I can't believe a lawyer in NJ with those kind of connections would be that much less. At $800/hr, we're probably in the Steve Janik league anyways.

This is daily business at Oregon DHS, IT section. You completely bollocks up a project, have $200/hour consultants tell you that you screwed up, and only they can help, despite that you had no real requirements for the original project, and all they've done is to finally generate requirements. Requirements in hand, you hire them to do the job, which gets done better, being as it's the second go, and you now have real requirements, until the 6 month statute on contractors runs out. You then have the same guys evaluate your situation, which turns out to be that you really need them, you invoke an exception from among those you have carefully crafted into the OARs, and you write some more contracts. I've seen this go on for 5 years with 5-10 contractors, for work that 3 state employees could have done in 6 months.

Numerous times their contempt for the process has nearly resulted in criminal indictments. Every time the AG has declined to prosecute, at the last minute, and that decision has been taken as a "job well done" by DHS. No change next time. Ask for another tax increase. Voters won't go for it? Cut field staff!

Solution: Gut middle management by 1/2, across the board. Require open contracts, using open source software. Make explicit requirements contingent on funding. That's it. You'll find you have a budget surplus, if you were to do that across the board, in other agencies as well. Ditto City, County, Metro...probably even tribal gov.

This should be its own post. Perhaps soon at http://bluethumb.info , an attempt to return to the pre-Facebook, pre-spin, sanitized Blueoregon.com.

Clicky Web Analytics