The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently released a report questioning the Defense Department's outsourcing of professional, administrative and management services, particularly focusing on whether the government was relying too heavily on the private sector, and as a result, eroding Pentagon expertise.
"Demands on government expand, the federal workforce shrinks, and the technical skills within the government atrophy," wrote the CSIS. "Examining the line of what is inherently government and articulating a clear policy that can be embraced by all the parties will be critical to maintain a healthy government-industry relationship."
The report also raises concerns over the increasing influence of companies worth over $1 billion. When examining the sustainability of the current structure of the services industrial base, CSIS found that the structure squeezes out the mid-tier companies that "traditionally...served as a conduit for new ideas and improved business practices." As a result, the purported benefits of private sector innovation cannot be fully realized.
POGO is also investigating the issues at stake with outsourcing and whether contractors are performing inherently governmental functions. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are also covering these issues closely. Many benefits can be accrued by utilizing the private sector, but the federal government needs to be wary of losing control of vital programs and policy determinations. Without adequate expertise, oversight, and competition, the government and taxpayers risk becoming prey to the private sector.
-- Mandy Smithberger