Contractor cuts among proposals sent to supercommittee

Wisconsin senator wants fewer contractors but one idea may create jobs for contractors and still save money.

Three recommendations that target contractors are on a list of proposals sent to the deficit supercommittee from the GOP side of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.

Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.), collected the recommendations from a variety of sources and has submitted them to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Known as the supercommittee, it is charged with finding between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years. They have to report their recommendations by Nov. 23 and the President must sign the bill by Jan. 15  or automatic cuts kick in. 

On Johnson’s list is cutting the contractor workforce by 15 percent, which he says would save $233 billion over 10 years. Eighty percent of the more than $100 billion spent with contractors each year is for services. Johnson is advocating that agencies be required to provide an annual headcount of the number of employees working on federal contracts. His document credits the suggestion to a report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called "Back in Black: A deficit reduction plan," released in July.

A second recommendation that would impact business opportunities for contractor is Johnson’s proposal, also pulled from Coburn’s report, that federal IT management be reformed and that the government close data centers. Technology allows more work to be done by fewer computers and data centers, so closures would increase efficiency and create savings.

Johnson pegged the savings at $200 billion over 10 years.

A third recommendation could create more opportunities for contractors. Johnson is recommending that the government expand its use of public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects. He says the savings could be $180 billion over 10 years.

The government should use more partnerships for highway, rail, port, airport and other projects, he noted. The government could improve project management and take advantage of private sector incentives and efficiencies, Johnson wrote.

The recommendations are part of a House report, "Sitting on Our Assets: Federal Government’s Misuse of Taxpayer-owned Assets," that comes out in October. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) also has proposed the policy as well.