The right time to propose

In only its second issue, March 1969, this magazine exposed one secret of the clever contractor. It was to make his proposal toward the end of a fiscal year, when the agencies usually had money they needed to spend, because otherwise it would revert back to the treasury.

Even though there have since been several reforms, opportunities for this tactic still exist: the Department of Energy, for instance, did not commit the final $4.9 billion of its solar loan funds until September 30, the final day of the 2011 fiscal year.

Charles Peters

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.