Usually, there are two ways to tell if the company you’re working for is in trouble: You have too much to do or too little.
If you have too much to do, there is a chance your company doesn’t manage money well. It has business but not profits. Its employees become overworked and make mistakes or leave, which further exacerbates the problem. Before long, the entire company is overwhelmed, customers are quickly underwhelmed, and the business collapses.
If you have too little to do, usually the company has not made the case for its products to its potential customers. You’re the waiter in an empty restaurant, the plumber with no repair orders, the assistant to the doctor who has no patients.
Unless, of course, the government is involved. Then, as is the case with one firm that processes written applications for Obamacare, lack of business leads to overtime and more hiring.
How can this be? The Obama administration, per usual, seems utterly incurious, but some reporters are beginning to look into it. Chris Nagus of KMOV in Missouri discovered that Serco, a British-based company that spent nearly $2 million lobbying the White House and Congress, received a five-year contract worth $12.2 billion to process Obamacare applications.
The company then proceeded to charge the government for more than 13,000 hours worth of overtime. The employees weren’t overworked, though. They were underworked.
One man told Nagus the Serco center in Rogers, Ark., where he had worked for six months processed just 40 applications in that time. Another said the office processed just six applications total in December. Others said they were kept at work for long hours even when there were no applications to process.
Still others were part of a team tasked with making out-bound calls. The team worked till midnight and was not allowed to leave early even though it also was not permitted to make calls after 9 p.m.
Why keep all those workers there being paid on the public dime for work they were not allowed to do? “Good question,” said the employee.
Some of the more hard-working among us may look at this as a dream job. Employees show up for work that never comes then have eight or more hours to entertain themselves. it wouldn’t take long to catch up on the Internet with all your favorite teams or teach yourself to sew, cook or provide medical care in a war zone.
But after awhile, it would not be fun.
Employees at the two work centers told Nagus they passed the time by playing Pictionary, 20 Questions and “What you did in 1989.” Some simply slept at their desks.
“You could be completely sane and work there for seven months and leave there and want to check yourself into a mental hospital,” said one woman who worked in the Serco office in Wentzville, Mo. “It was that bad.”
Of course, when the Obama administration learned of this abuse of public funds, it moved quickly to separate itself from the organization and shut down the non-work work centers. Actually, that’s not at all what happened.
Actually, the administration has awarded Serco two more contracts — a single-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (in other words, basically a forever contract) to provide cost, price and engineering analysis for the U.S. Navy and a $14 million contract for the Naval Reserve’s Psychological Health Outreach Program.
It considers Serco a reliable vendor even though it recently lost a contract in Australia for improper performance. It considers such waste the cost of doing business in this world of big-time service providing. It considers anyone who questions its spending decisions to be hard-hearted and unconcerned about the poor.
As for the taxpayers footing the bill for all these games of Pictionary and “What You Did in 1989?” It considers their needs hardly at all.