Contractor cuts among proposals sent to supercommittee

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.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

Reader Comments

Wed, Sep 21, 2011 than n. Dallas

As a Government IT Contractor, I can tell you there have been many positive things information technology contractors have accomplished: combating terrorism, cleaning up the environment and managing vast amounts of critical data. Many of us work hard to add value for the government agencies we work for. Than Nguyen

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 Germantown, MD

So we're going to eliminate contractors that clean our offices and run our cafeterias (two types of service contracts). Are the GS-14s going to clean, are the 13s going to work in the cafteteria? It's not that simple. I agree totally with Curmudgeon 2.

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 DC

Maybe if the federal gov't would actually finish a project instead of re-bidding it and continuing its life, there wouldn't be a need for more and more contractors. Oh, but that's if the gov't actually knows their requirements and sticks to them. I'm tired of seeing my tax dollars spent on the same project all because a civilian doesn't have the experience or credentials necessary to run a program and keep it on schedule and within budget. Everyone is so quick to blame the contractor when in reality they may want to look at the gov't for the problems. It is NOT always the contractor!

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 Jon M. Stout Herndon, Va.

When you eliminate contractors you should understand that they work for a specific task (as opposed to a lifelong career) and then come off contract when the task is completed. Where new skills are required, contractors tap the pool with the latest relevant skills. The Government can't do this with employees and where technology undergoes rapid development (e.g. IT) government employees are very slow to respond.

Mon, Sep 19, 2011

For budget purposes, 'Number of fed employees' should equal 'Warm bodies in the building', no matter who writes their paycheck. They say contractors can get fired when no longer needed, but around here, that never happens. There are contractors here that have been through six different companies. For all intents and purposes, they are government employees. If it walks like a duck, etc.

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