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consultant contracts

KMorrisD kmorrisd at aol.com
Tue Aug 18 17:19:41 EST 1998

Joseph Zorzin wrote:
> To Bill Rivers
> Program Supervisor
> Management Forestry
> Mass. DEM
> Dear Bill,
> I have just reviewed your letter to consultants regarding a Request for
> Response for contracts for "professional forestry services".
> The general scuttlebutt among consultants is that the offered fee of
> $22/hour is insufficient.

As a consulting forester, I'd say it's about HALF the going rate for
experienced people. I certainly wouldn't work for less than $45 per

> My opinion on the matter is that any organization has the privilege of
> offering whatever it wants for whatever service. Fair enough.
> However, to say that you are looking for "professional forestry
> services" and then only offer $22/hr. (and no offer to compensate for
> travel expenses) is a MASSIVE INSULT to the profession of forestry. What
> person who considers himself a "professional" would work for that kind
> of fee on a contract basis? NONE. 

There are some people with recent forestry degrees, who call themselves
consulting foresters, who would work for that rate.

What this indicates is that you and
> the DEM really mean to say that you do not consider forestry consultants
> to be professionals, but common laborers, and you would have trouble
> finding common laborers on a contract basis at that rate. Now, that also
> is fair enough if you used the term "common forest laborer". 

I think that's really what DEM is looking for: forestry technicians. 
They just aren't straightforward enough to come out and say it.

It is
> obvious that you really only want students fresh out of college or any
> consultant so desperate as to work for this pittance. The fact that
> these foresters will be of lower quality than real forestry
> professionals is of little concern to you, rather the DEM wants people
> who will be easy to control; productivity has never been a huge issue in
> the DEM. 


> If "professional forestry services" are really worth only $22/hour, I
> suggest to all the politicians who read this that they should fire all
> the DEM foresters and rehire them on a contract basis at $22/hour, which
> would result in a massive savings of a few million dollars per year.

Excellent idea!  Hire them back at $22 per hour for time they actually
spend in the woods--no benefits, no expenses, no secretarial, no


> And furthermore, it is common knowledge that the management foresters
> HAVE NOT BEEN OVERWORKED the past several years, your entire state wide
> staff having sold less timber than any decent consultant could do alone.

There are data from the National Association of State Foresters at
http://www.teleport.com/~rot/sfordata.html (Thoreau Institute) which
indicate that in 1993, DEM state forester costs were 151% of `total user
fee revenue,` which includes timber sales AND all other income.  I
believe timber sales are down considerably since 1993, but personnel and
costs are at least the same.  I wonder what the cost percentage is now:
200%? 300%? 400%? 500%?  

My TOTAL fees for large landowners (with timber and growing stock of
comparable size and quality as the state forests) are in the range of
15%-25%.  This includes inventory, appraisal, financial analysis,
management planning, boundary blazing and painting, timber marking and
sales administration. 

Washington State gets all their forest management work done for under
25% of total revenues. There are a few other states that are in the same
range of efficiency.  See the Thoreau Institute webpage.  Why is
Massachusetts so inefficient?   

> They should be doing this work themselves, rather than the taxpayers
> paying more money for "common forest laborers". 

DEM has 8 full time `management foresters.`  The last time they did an
inventory for the state forests was 1979--and they subcontracted the
work!  So what do these people do all day?  On our taxpayer tab?

It is also common
> knowledge that a major reason for hiring more people is that the more
> staff you have, the more you can seek higher salaries as supervisors and
> the better your pensions will be. And I accuse our lame state
> politicians of stupidity for going along with this.
> I challenge anyone receiving this message to refute what I say.

I don't think that's possible.  But I'll be interested to see any
attempts.  Thanks for taking the initiative, Joe.


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