The proponents of outsourcing are at it again.
Federal Computer Week has published another pro-outsourcing commentary, “How Outsourcing Keeps America On Top.” It was written by Stanton Sloane, president and CEO of Fairfax, Virginia-based IT firm SRA International, one of the government’s largest contractors. SRA was awarded nearly $1 billion in federal contracts last year.
As pro-contractor editorials go, this one is standard fare. It hits all the major talking points:
- Contractors are indispensible.
- Contractors cost less and are more efficient than government employees.
- Contractors bring innovation.
- Critics of contractors and outsourcing are a bunch of meanies.
But one statement in particular stands out:
Because job security in the private sector is more closely linked to performance, contractors are fearsomely efficient.
Performance is everything in the private sector; not so in federal contracting. For proof, just check the many instances of waste, fraud and abuse in POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. A poorly performing employee at a major company like SRA International will quickly be shown the door, while a poorly performing contractor will often keep its government business, especially if the Department of Defense is its customer.
Last month, the Pentagon released its Report to Congress on Contracting Fraud, which found that the Department of Defense had awarded hundreds of billions of dollars to contractors that defrauded the government. The Commission on Wartime Contracting highlighted one of the reasons. In its latest interim report on contingency contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Commission found that the government is doing a poor job of keeping track of contractor past performance data, awarding billions of taxpayer dollars to “habitual poor performers.”
The Commission’s findings are shocking. Past performance data has not been recorded for more than 90 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan contracts. Of the records that do exist, about 75 percent lack required information. These findings were discussed at yesterday’s Commission hearing, “Ensuring contractor accountability: Past performance and suspensions and debarmements,” at which POGO General Counsel Scott Amey testified.
Much about the federal contracting system is “fearsome,” but it isn’t its efficiency.
Neil Gordon is a POGO Investigator.
Image by Flickr user Felixe, used under Creative Commons License.