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By Nick Wakeman

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No easy answer to outsourcing drama

Emotions ran high among commenters on our story about the push to bring more contractor work in-house.

Contractors, of course, fear losing business. Others are a little overwrought. But among the complaints about lazy federal workers and greedy contractors are some voices that raise good points on both sides of the argument.

“Contracting, when used, should be used for its intended purpose: deliver the service or product, move on. Anything requiring years of support should be done by an employee of the government,” said an anonymous commenter.

“Cut the scope of the government and you can easily cut down the outsourcing. The problem is the rapid growth of government and government spending,” said another.

A third commenter said part of the problem is that the government doesn’t hire smart enough people.

“My take is that the government hires great people to manage not so great people. Leadership then needs to reach outside of their pool of resources to get things done,” he said.

I can’t say that I agree, but he does offer a good reminder to any manager – always hire people that are smarter than you.

A few readers also thought now was a good time for the government to hire the best and brightest from industry. I’m sure more than one agency personnel manager is thinking the same thing.

As for some of the other comments, some of them do express the anger and frustration that many feel toward our government.

“Anyone who wants more government should have their head examined,” wrote one.

Whichever way outsourcing is going – in or out – it always seems to raise people’s blood pressure.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 28, 2010 at 7:23 PM


Reader Comments

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 SEO Outsourcing http://www.365outsource.com/seo-outsourcing

Define what tasks are supposed to be assigned then make sure that the contractor can deliver. Just hiring somebody else to do different things is not an easy way out.

Sat, May 8, 2010 Robert Yarush Bagram,Afghanistan

I am from the Washington DC area originally.. and have always had a sour taste for wanting to work for the government. I know people that do... and have since high school... and they will tell you that they are at a loss as to what it takes to actually "Fire" what is deemed dead wood. Given this... how does an organization such as the government expect to attract quality people?? I have no desire to work along side "Dead Wood" I take my profession very seriously... its a shame that the government has no more oversite than this of its employees.

Tue, May 4, 2010 Michael Lent

The "media" has it wrong much of the time. You can find mandates to cut contract cost (readily done through competition, effective oversight, smarter negotiating, if not a budgeteer's axe). You are not going to find a governmentwide mandate to "insource," with a few exceptions. These include the plan to reduce intel community contractors issued when Mike McConnell was DNI, and in the limited "conversion" Gates formulated in DoD with Congressional backing. The taxpayers and OMB are interested most of all in saving money and increasing effectiveness. The argument over the true cost of contractors and the true cost of civil servants is not quite over, even if some would like to declare it so. While the A-76 process was brought to its knees by the Republican-led Congress and then given the coup de grace by Obama, it did provide a methodology--a defective one heavily favoring civil servants--to compare cost savings. We are not likely to see a new A-76, thank goodness, but there may be breakthroughs on true-cost numbers of contractors and feds this year. Let's see who pulls up their socks and uses these cost findings wisely in the national interest when they emerge.

Mon, May 3, 2010

The government has a ton of lazy people...management included. Firing someone in the government is impossible. The result, lower level employees grow into managment positions out of the impossibility of government attrition and the growth of government as a whole.

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 Mr. Inderjit Prakash Southborough, MA

The best for our Government is not good enough. At the moment, in almost every field and subfield, excellent candidates are available, something that only happens with an (almost) full scale depression in the land, the first since the 1930's. That is my advice and the best positive contribution I can make to this controversial subject. This may combine foresight with the proverbial hindsight, if that is possible.

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