Friday, July 26, 2013

Spending Your Tax Dollars One Piano at a Time

According to the Federal Business Opportunities website, a sole source contract has been awarded to the Piano Gallery, Inc. of 1961 Chain Bridge Road in McLean, Virginia for the purchase of a Steinway Model B 6'11" Ebony Satin grand piano for the United States Marine Corps Band.

As background information, sole source contracts are issued when there is only one contractor that can meet the government's exacting requirements.  These contracts must be justified for one of two reasons:

(1)  If the contractor has a unique capability, whether it be an item or service, it is insufficient to simply say that the contractor is unique.  If the item is unique to the contractor, the unique characteristics must be set forth.  If the contractor has unique expertise, that expertise must be described.  If the contractor has unique equipment or facilities or he has proprietary data, it must be explained.

(2)  If only one contractor can perform within the required timeframe, the timeframe must be explained:

(a)   provide the date by which the supplies or services must be delivered.

(b)   Indicate how that date was determined and its significance.

(c) Indicate the impact of delay beyond that date in terms of program schedules, milestones, etc.

(d) State how long it would take another contractor to acquire the capability to perform (learning period), how much it would cost another contractor to get up to speed, and if appropriate, what it would cost the Government in terms of dollars and manhours to get another contractor up to speed.  State the bases for the above estimates.

Here is a copy of the guidelines for justifying sole source contracts for the United States Marine Corps:

As further background, here is some information on taxpayers' “new” piano:

According to Steinway's website, a Model B built between the years 2000 and 2010 retailed for between $51,200 and $86,990.

The Steinway now owned by American taxpayers and being used by the United States Marine Corps. is scheduled for delivery on September 1, 2013.

Oh yes, and the cost to taxpayers? A mere $78,100 for a used model.  What a deal!


  1. Finally, money well spent - meaning it doesn't go to some profiteering Wallstreeter or toward buying a bomb or some hand greandes. Unless its for a bored navy general or something. As for the client, I suppose there are good musicians in the Marines but what the hell do THEY want with a piano?

    It might be expensive but quality pianos are! A piano is a fine instrument, in competent and skillful hands the music that comes forth has the power to touch your soul and sometimes change the course of your life. In competent, capable but misguided hands, music can be a powerful weapon as well. "Never under estimate the poser of music", said Zubin Metha.

    I should know, I play one :)


  2. Nice post, but it doesn't make me feel very good about how my tax dollars are being spent. If I may add a little good humored one ups man-ship, I know of a project that the family with the "rights" charged us $80,000 a word. That would be for the recently built $120,000,000 Martin Luther King Jr Memorial in Washington D.C. For more see the post below,

  3. I have played the piano for decades and realize the value of music to the soul. That said, while I realize that a Steinway is the Porsche of pianos, sometimes one would hope that austerity would win out. Unfortunately, it seems that when governments spend money, it's easy come, easy go.

    Thanks for your comments!