Documents obtained by POGO (which were the focus of the Sunday New York Times story “In Washington, Contractors Take On Biggest Role Ever”) are drawing attention to the federal government’s movement toward downsizing, but at the expense of hiring contractors to perform jobs that were once, and perhaps should be, performed by career civil servants. In fact, if you have ever contacted a federal agency you might have been talking or emailing with a contractor employee rather than a civil servant.
POGO’s most recent finding (pdf) involves the hiring of CACI to assist the General Services Administration (GSA) “in processing the backlog of suspension and debarment cases.” Simply stated, six CACI consultants were hired at $104 per hour for 3 ½ months to help determine if other federal contractors should receive future contracts. Although it nearly suspended or debarred itself, CACI was placed in a position to determine the future of government spending and federal contractors, including potential competitors of CACI.
The $380 billion question is why the government would contract out such a core government function – a function that should be performed by civil servants. Additionally, one has to question the lofty $343,000 (or nearly $60,000 per consultant) price-tag for the temporary work.
The outsourcing dilemma also raises the question of who is really controlling the American government. If so many jobs are being performed by contractor employees and senior-level appointees, is the government a government of the people or a government of corporate interests?
UPDATE: See POGO's alert for more info.
-- Scott Amey