Watercooler quotes

“We’ve heard how the stealthy F-22 and F-35 are flying thermos bottles, struggling under the huge heat loads imposed by their powerful engines and systems. Well it seems the latest generation of vertical-lift aircraft is turning the flight decks of US Navy amphibious assault ships into frying pans.”


“In the last administration, the hack-to-wonk ratio was dangerously high. In this one, wonks have the upper hand.”

– Democratic Leadership Council CEO Bruce Reed, on the makeup of the Obama administration

 “A good IG allows an administrator to sleep at night, and I don’t want to diminish that role in any way.”

– GSA Administrator-designate Martha Johnson, on the relationship she hopes to build with IG Brian Miller

In an effort to improve the system, we have made it almost unintelligibly complex.”

– Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, recommending simplification of the Pentagon’s contracting rules and processes.

“When budgets go up like they did, we lose our ability to prioritize. We lose our budget discipline. We lose our analytical capability. We don’t have to do the analysis. And those things are things we should be doing whether budgets are going up or coming down.”

– Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in response to the idea that budget concerns are driving planning decisions

“When I explained the game of “paper, rock, scissors” to my oldest son many years ago, he argued strenuously that paper can’t beat rock. When I learned the game as a kid, the explanation was that the “paper” is sandpaper and it wears down the rock. Anyone who has paged through reams of conflicting interpretations of the F[ederal] A[cquisition] R[egulation]s knows that paper can wear down anything or anyone.”

Kent S. Jackson at Aviation Week


 “The word stupid doesn’t adequately describe the situation.”

An anonymous source referring to DHS security advising an employee to bring a suspicious package containing a dead fish and white powder into department offices


“We need a czar.  And we need czars on top of czars.  Then you need a super czar.  And a czarina.”

 – Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, on the impulse in Washington to constantly expand bureacuracies 

“Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine.”

 – President Dwight Eisenhower, 1954

 “I am basically going back to my corporate roots.”

 – Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), who is retiring after 14 years in Congress, announcing that he has accepted a job at Deloitte Consulting

Considering how taxpayers’ money around Washington isn’t respected, a day shouldn’t go by without having an inspector general checking on it.” 

– Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) 

“We are an ‘insight’ organization.  If DoD customers ask us for information, we will provide that information as requested.” 

– Richard Cole, spokesman for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), in response to allegations that the DCMA improperly assisted Lockheed Martin and the Air Force in their efforts to undermine then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to terminate the C-130J program  

“Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms’ length.”

 – Department of Interior Inspector General report on a wide-ranging ethics scandal involving inappropriate relations between government officials in charge of oil royalties and employees of energy companies 

“America is more communist than China right now.” 

 – Commodities investor Jim Rogers, chief executive of New York-based Rogers Holdings, on the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailouts 


“Too much money, no adult supervision” 

– Winslow Wheeler, Center for Defense Information, on the defense procurement system



“To be really good at oversight, you have to be very comfortable making people uncomfortable. I don’t think he’s cut from that cloth.” 

– POGO’s Danielle Brian on Senator Joseph Lieberman’s (I-CT) personality


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