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Aerospace Executive Profiles Government Sales

Contract Manager Finds Government Procurement to be “Fast, Easy & Fun!”

Ellen Furgess (a pseudonym) is a supplier satisfaction auditor who works for the U.S. Department of Defense. Her job is largely pointless. For 23 years, Ellen has conducted surveys of various aerospace and defense companies involved in government procurement. She isn’t allowed to ask about any of the cool stuff. She isn’t allowed to make questions up. Instead, for the past 23 years, she has been following a single, almost completely unchanged, script. Questions are pre-selected and company representatives already know what the questions are. Needless to say, they have their own pre-scripted answers.

Ellen Furgess Surrounded by the Paperwork She Loves
Ellen Furgess Surrounded by the Paperwork She Loves

In a recent interview (and many not so recent interviews), Ms. Furgess asked questions like “Is the procurement process clear and effective?” Unless they have a lawsuit pending, company representatives almost universally respond with “Yes, although we embrace opportunities to work with our Federal procurement specialists to further streamline and clarify it.”

In theory Ellen’s work enables a process of continuous improvement. In reality, nothing of the sort occurs.

All of this is what made Ellen’s interview on June 15, 2023 so extraordinary.

The interview opened with a standard question: “Have your government procurement and/or contracting specialists been responsive in supporting your bid processes.”

The interviewee, Rebecca Nawson, responded with an overwhelming ‘Yes!’

Rebecca Nawson (a pseudonym) conducted the rest of the interview along similar lines. When asked, “Do you find the procurement package development phase to provide unfair benefits to particular parties?” Ms. Nawson waxed poetic, speaking for almost 30 minutes straight about her delight and wonder at the highly-developed DOD processes and how she was going to further integrate them into her personal life. Eventually, Ms. Furgess had to cut her off because her government issued pen had run out ink for the first time in her career.

Ms. Furgess was so eager to understand what she had witnessed that she violated survey confidentiality protocols, and reached out to F$JNews, asking us to investigate this unique situation.


Rather than speaking to Ms. Nawson directly – which isn’t nearly as much fun – we decided to start at the beginning. We talked to her parents and learned that she was conceived in an unscheduled burst of April 15th tax-filing excitement. We then used KinderMates.com to determine who the other members of her first school class were.

None of the members of class admitted to having been her friend, although every one of them remembered her.

Apparently, when she was three, she decided to acquire a BFF. The process involved an open competitive bid, requirements, statements of work, clear evaluation criteria and timelines for document submission. In addition, best friend candidates were not allowed to engage in ‘best-friend’ activities like the exchange of BFF necklaces, cloth bracelets or any other articles deemed to have emotional value exceeding that of a cute kitten picture.

There were no bidders.

Further research uncovered a still-distraught former suitor. At the age of 28 years and 3 months, Ms. Nawson decided to get married. She required her suitors to go through a similar – although more advanced – process.

As the contract was expected to last for an extended period of time, the bidding process was very intense. One candidate, Joseph Riley, seemed to have won the bid when the other countersued on the basis of undue emotional influence. Ms. Nawson, admitting culpability married the man she liked less. He did, in fact, come closer to meeting the bid requirements.

For his part, Mr. Riley (born on Dec 31st as a perfectly and intentionally-timed tax deduction) remains upset about the bid process. The winning candidate admitted to a F$JNews journalist that he remained married simply because he is frightened of the contract termination process.


When contacted by F$JNews and asked to provide comment for this article, Ms. Nawson stated that she required the filing of a form G-639 before relinquishing any further information.

Do you want to chart out and fine-tune your bid process while building in the capability to analyze when and where your chances at bid success can be achieved? Well, I’ve never worked in government procurement, but I happen to be really good at constructing effective decision-support models for businesses of all sizes. To learn more, visit SolveforSuccess.com.

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