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Mar 08, 2012



If you want to make a good case for how contracting out government jobs is killing our nations defense, why don't you look at all the warship design jobs that have been outsourced to defense contractors? Look at what a disaster that has been! We once had a 600 ship Navy of good, solid, seaworthy ships, now we can barely keep 280 ships with hulls like beer cans in the water. Back when the Navy designed its own ships the cost less and took far less time to design and build. Today with all our technology and computers our Navy is looking more an more like a contractor assisted suicide. POGO is taking a very short term view on this government contractor issue. Dig back in history a little and you'll make a much better case for why contracting out government jobs is setting this nation up for complete failure.

Ben Freeman

Ray, Brian, and Flygad, thank you all for your comments. While this may come as a surprise, I agree with a lot of what you said.

This post is not, nor was it intended to be, a comparison of the full cost to government of contractors vs. uniformed military or DoD civilians. Nor does this post make any comparison of the effectiveness of the groups. Currently, no such full-scale study exists, and putting one together would be an immensely challenging undertaking. Until such a study is created we must make comparisons based upon the best available data, which in this case were average salary figures for DoD Civilians and uniformed military personnel, and the other part of the force structure that is often used in their stead – defense contractors. I incorporated some elements of the military compensation packages unavailable to contractors (e.g. housing), but as Flygad scathingly pointed out, I did not monetize other portions of compensation packages, like government and contractor pensions (which can also be rather lavish).

Had this been a lengthy report I certainly would have attempted to do this and much more - including addressing the reasons the military relies on contractors – but this is a blog post, that reports one facet of this extremely complicated issue. Fear not though, this is a core issue for POGO and we will be providing significantly more information in the future.

Again, I thank you all for your comments.

Brian Wilkerson

Ben, I believe your argument would be more convincing if you quantified the dolar value of benefits that civil servants and the military receive, vs. the dollar value of typical contractor benefits.

Also, I don't believe the example of a First lieutenant with 20 years service is a very good one, because that's a very odd combination of grade and years of service to see. Typically, a First Lt. is promoted to Captain after 4-6 years service.

Also, a slight correction to your article: a Sergeant First Class in the Army is the E-7 pay grade; an E-8 is a Master Sergeant.

Ray Draeger

Your article does not include the reasons why the military relies on contractors. A few reasons are that in the long run its cheaper, that the
customer gets unique experts and when the contract is over-its over. General Demsey is not opposed to contractors, he like all senior leaders just wants excellent implementation. That is very feasible and smart use of money.


Amateurish comments on a semi-pro study. Whoops, someone forgot to monetize the generous government pensions and job security and demands, or lack of it, for productivity.
And it looks like POGO, in a more inept way than Deloitte seems to think it is OK to compare a career NCO or officer with a military mission to a defense contractor, who more likely has an industrial mission. You are taking a colorful fruit salad, putting it in the old Cuisinart, and making a mono-chromatic puree---that no one can use sensibly.
No doubt there is profligate waste in defense contracting, often caused by movies. There is often an equal and opposite wastrel vibe in government, both the military services and GS employees. They tend to think they have have blank check and that their mission is sacred, say, compared to fixing education or rebuilding infrastructure here (as opposed to Afghanistan). POGO just loves to bash contractors, and some deserve that, but when comparing govies to contractors, you gotta do it smartly, and, you typically don't. From long observation of this fracas, I'd say no one really has. Certainly not Congress, OMB, the rapacious unions, or the likes of AIA, NDIA or PSC, and any of the so-called good-govt orgs. All the while, the citizen taxpayers suffer and the fighters of our many unnecessary, incompetently managed wars are the ones who suffer.

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