Is Outsourcing Becoming a Political Issue (Again)?

Ann All

We've blogged about both projected growth in outsourcing by the federal government and concerns over a lack of oversight into such outsourcing.


At the heart of the controversy over increased outsourcing by the feds is the A-76 process which, although ostensibly designed to save the government money and improve efficiency, has been linked to problems -- including the scandal at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


And now, according to an article in the Federal Times, a majority Democratic Congress has moved to shield nearly 3,000 federal jobs from outsourcing.


A measure authored by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), and included in an emergency appropriation to provide added funding for the Iraq War, deems some 2,800 jobs at the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory "inherently governmental" and thus not open to bidding from outside contractors.


The goal, says Byrd in a written statement, is to ensure that "corporate contracting profits are not driving the safety and health decisions that directly impact the lives of our coal miners."


Yet barring jobs from outside contractors makes it more difficult for the government to find workers with the right blend of skills for some jobs, contends the president of the Professional Services Council, a trade association of government contractors.


The feds aren't the only ones taking a hard look at government contracts. As reported in the Connecticut Post, state legislators are mulling a bill that would award preference to contractors that perform services in the U.S., among other measures designed to protect American jobs.


A staff attorney for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association says that the legislation is unnecessary because state law already gives preference to contractors based in Connecticut.

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Jun 13, 2007 8:53 AM James Phipps James Phipps  says:
Outsourcing is great for the government, but I feel they need to regulate it to allow only stateside business to only hold this contracts and limit subcontract support to no more than 20% overseas. Outsourcing first saves the tax payer money, because the government doesn't pay retirement, services, 401K, medical, etc... Also the goverment will never be able to keep up w/ the commercial side by simply reling on its own. It use to be technology came from the government, but the sole reason IT has continued to advance so far as it has is because the government is now providing its high demanding requirements to the corporate world. When you work for the government you have to many administrator overhead to worry about and it slows down the process of improvement. Corporate can meet government requirements and then take that product and provide it to the commerical user whose demands are different. This requires further improvements and service expansion which improves the overall product. Suddenly a circle of improvement is developed as the government looks how to use the newly improved product which foster even more growth. The only way the government can avoid further outsourcing is to outsource. What does this mean? The majority of training done by the government does not suffice to meet its own requirements. The government needs to outsource its training to prevent a future environment filled by only government contractors. Take for example the military services. Each service spends billions each year on training. If this training was outsourced, personnel could be trained better at a lower price and in a shorter amount of time. In the military the most competent IT experts are those who have used their education benefits to attend outside training from online courses to training camps. So, should the government outsource, most definitely, but if it wants to stop the trend it has to outsource (training). Reply

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