• John M. Campbell

Free Cheers for the Pricers

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

When writing proposals for new work with the government, we engineers loved designing new systems to meet a set of requirements. But most of us despised the process of coming up with a cost for the work, which meant estimating the hours it would take to actually implement the design. The process involved creating a document called a Basis of Estimate, or BOE. The BOE would list out the tasks to be performed and estimate the hours for each. Then the pricers would take the hours and apply the company rates per hour to generate the dollars we bid for the work. Fortunately, they had tricks up their sleeves to allow us to meet the price we thought was needed to win the project.


Free Cheers for the Pricers


Proposals are a time to be creative for a while,

To give a jaded engineer a chance to strut his style.

But when the architecture’s done, and time has come for costing,

Many engineers can find proposals quite exhausting.


They make up names for BOE to show their discontent,

Like Boring Obscure Exercise, or Bag Of Excrement.

But just when things appear so bleak you fear for your survival,

The sound of wheels on kitchen tile announces their arrival.


The doors burst open as the troupe appears with some commotion,

Rolling backward in the chairs they use for locomotion,

They carry forth their banner high, and as their flag unfurls,

The “PG” on the flag proclaims they are the Pricer Girls.


Michelle’s the tall and leggy one with chocolate waves of hair.

With dark eyes and a winning smile, she has a jaunty air.

Their leader (known as Nina) has a tattoo near her ankle.

She uses witticisms meant to shock, if not to rankle.


The tiny one with spiky hair goes by the name of Tanna.

Her piercing eyes and sassy tongue belie her quiet manner.

The lone male in the group is Mark; they treat him like a brother:

They tease him mercilessly ’til he runs back home to Mother.


They arm themselves with rate files, their spreadsheets lock and load,

And, grinning, start the process to persuade, cajole and goad

A bunch of whining engineers, afraid to cut too much,

Of how you hit the bogey when it matters in the clutch.


A Wild Ass Guess with surely POG, and POG is not sublime.

Instead of WAG, PIDOOMA when it comes to Parvest time.

Don’t Piss Off the Government; avoiding that has class.

PIDOOMA means I Pulled It Directly Out Of My Associate’s brain.


They start in on the cost runs, to see just where it’s at.

Like butchers in the slaughterhouse, they cut away the fat.

The bottom line comes in too high. Just when you think you’re lost,

They add a secret factor, and somehow, you’re back on cost.


So it’s free cheers for the pricing gals, and whoop, whoop, yeah to them.

We’ll miss their lively banter, and we hope to meet again.


But even now there sits a boy in some proposal bay

Who struggles with a BOE, and you can hear him say,

“Oh, how I wish that I could find a shoulder I could cry on,

Or, better yet, that I could find a Pricer to rely on.


With much love for Pricers,


John M. Campbell

December 1998


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