No one gives a crap about this, right?

June 28, 2007

Well I don’t care assholes, I’m posting it anyway…cause that’s what I do.

There’s a story in the Post today about a Booz Allen Hamilton project, originally worth $2 million, to help the Department of Homeland Security set up it’s intelligence operation in 2003. And how much has the project, to date, actually been worth to BAH? Oh, $124 million, give or take. The tone of the Post article is kind of outrage, like HOW could this possibly have happened?

Let me fill you in on something – this shit happens all the fucking time in the government. It’s common practice (even in multiple bid contracts) to lowball your offer, include a minimum of guaranteed work at a low cost, hoping to get the contract from a contracting officer overly concerned with cost and not as concerned with the work promised, and then to spend the rest of the contract expanding the scope of your work. They’re called contract modifications, and they can be agreed to for legitimate reasons – perhaps a costly survey needs to be added in order to ensure a successful outcome – or for ridiculously illegitimate reasons, like spending 3 times as much as necessary on a BAH employee to perform DHS employee functions.

Listen to this shit:

[Booz Allen Hamilton’s] support work included intelligence analysis, preparation of congressional reports, budget activities and other tasks crucial to the operation of the office, documents show.

Wow. Was there anything DHS was doing for itself?

We focus too much on no-bid contracts because we think it’s one of President Bush’s devilish ways to pass on profits to his cronies in the private sector. But that’s not really true. These contractual labor rates are, most of the time, set by GSA. So having Booz Allen Hamilton win is the same as having any other private consulting firm win, really. The big deal, to me, is that we’re making it too easy and too expensive for ourselves through these ever-expanding labor contracts. Instead of hiring the experts to do the job for us at half the price, we just hire contractors to do it for us at twice the price. I’m all for small government, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking we’re contracting the government just by contracting out more of our work. We’re just making the same work more expensive.

Let’s say we have 1 million federal employees and 1 million contractors. Each federal employee on average makes $80,000 a year, and each contractor employee costs the government $200,000 a year ($100 an hour X 40 hours per week X 50 weeks per year). That’s a current total of $280 billion in labor costs per year. However, let’s say some faux-conservative jackass wants to contract the government’s labor force and contract out more work. Well, let’s say you have 500,000 federal employees and 1.5 million contractors. That would mean a total labor cost of $340 billion per year.

So at places like DHS, under this contract, when they’re considering how much easier it would be to higher contractors to do their jobs for them, rather than hiring people and training them to do the job directly for the government, are they considering how much their own convenience is costing us?

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5 Responses to “No one gives a crap about this, right?”

  1. Denyse DuBrucq Says:

    And as a possible contractor to fight wildland fires with Liquid Nitrogen, a new technology which will hasten to control and keep the environment clean, air and water, and one with means to upgrade the strength of levees from the Category #3 capable as just installed by Halliburton to Category #5 when that level of storm is threatened, AirWars Defense can’t get a cent, a contract or even a response from DHS. Are they concerned for anything but their own task? Certainly I see no concern for the well-being of the general public here in the United States or for our Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since the Defense Department, well protected by Battelle gatekeepers only tests its own technology. Yes, all of them know of these advanced procedures, but, to protect Halliburton and to prove that only the established “friends of Bush” corporations can get their hands in the USA Cookie Jar the new capabilities that would cost the US government less and make the situation more safe and cleaner are rejected. Have letters to prove my point.

  2. Micah Says:

    I agree with your premise here, but you did omit the [high] benefit costs associated with hiring a federal employee from your calculation. Assuming a benefit load (with taxes, pensions, vacations, health insurance and everything else) of about 2/3 salary (a reasonable estimate according to the HR folks I’ve talked too recently,) and that $80,000 a year employee actually costs almost $150,000 a year. Now, that’s still cheaper then the contractor, and I’m sure there are positive tax implications (assuming the Federal Gov’t pays taxes…not sure how that works,) but it gets you close enough to contrator rate that arguments about the fact that you aren’t stuck with contrctors forever like you are with employees have a bit more traction. Again, I agree with you, but the argument is a little more complicated.

  3. s Says:

    agreed, i thought about trying to factor that in, but decided it was too much trouble. however, one thing you have to factor in with salaried employees on the positive side is the expertise involved and possible improved efficiency of operations over time. what i mean is, with a contractor most of the work is being done by employees with probably 5 or less years of experience. so while you’re paying for benefits with employees, you’re also reaping the benefits of added expertise as they age.

  4. Micah Says:

    Good point. How do you think it offsets, though, against the fact that that expertise isn’t necessariy being leveraged 100% of the time. My assumption is that a lot of people become really good at specific things (certain types of business process reengineering, for example,) over the course of a project. Their agency or department may never do anything quite like that again in their careers, but the government is stuck with trying to find them something else to do. Whereas contractors are interchangable, and you get to stop paying them when their specific role is no longer needed. And you can easily switch them out for people with a skill set better tailored for new tasks at hand.

  5. s Says:

    yeah, i certainly see a place for contracted labor in the federal government. cleaning staffs, security, possibly IT guys, etc. but i don’t understand why you’d want to contract out, say, intelligence analysis, given the fact that area is somewhere the government could use the years of experience its own employees would gain over time. but yeah, a lot of services are interchangeable, and in those cases i agree contractors make more sense.

    food service, landscaping, i mean we could probably come up with like 40 different categories of jobs the government should prefer to contract out.


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