Last month, we wrote about the federal government’s growing reliance on contractors. It seems POGO is not alone in feeling uneasy about contractors gradually usurping the role of civil servants in performing “inherently governmental” functions.
Prompted by the same Government Accountability Office (pdf) report that inspired POGO’s blog entry, Federal Computer Week recently posed the question, “Do agencies rely too much on contractors?” to readers on the FCW Forum blog. As FCW reported yesterday, the question “touched a nerve.” They received over a dozen responses, many from people who claimed to be long-term federal employees, and most of which echoed POGO’s concerns. There were first-hand accounts of the government losing institutional knowledge, lax oversight of contractors, contractors feeling pressured to put their employer’s interests ahead of the government’s, and doubts about whether outsourcing is ultimately cheaper and more efficient.
On the other hand, there are still many who believe, as a commenter on POGO’s blog wrote, that “competitive sourcing is the only way to get government under control.” To outsource or not to outsource – the debate continues.
-- Neil Gordon