Congressman wants to halt insourcing

A Republican congressman wants the Obama administration to declare a moratorium on insourcing across the government until the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issues its proimsed guide on the topic.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC), also wants agencies to publish their rationale for insourcing contractor jobs and to give the public a chance to comment on it. Mulvaney is the chairman of the Small Business Committee’s contracting and workforce subcommittee.

He said at a hearing June 23 that will be sending the written testimony and transcripts of the hearing to OFPP officials along with other suggestions for the insourcing policy.

Mulvaney’s hearing focused on the impact insourcing has on small businesses. He said he intends to both investigate instances where agencies’ decisions on insourcing hurt small businesses and find ways to get the Small Business Administration involved in the insourcing debate.

At the hearing, Jacque Simon, public policy director for the American Federation of Government Employees, defended insourcing. She said the government has seen the success of insourcing through saving taxpayer money and providing a more transparent approach to budgets and spending. She also said the federal employees have to be ready to take on new work or different work if the agency needs it. Their jobs entail “other duties assigned” beyond their basic job. Meanwhile, contractors force the government into negotiations whenever a contract needs a change or adjustment.

On the other hand, Bonnie Carroll, owner and president of Information International Associates from Oak Ridge, Tenn., said insourcing has decreased opportunities for small businesses and can take away their contracts, even for work that is not considered an inherently government function, or a job only a federal employee can do.

She and others who testified at the hearing said the government doesn’t give details on pricing comparisons or other factors on how insourcing the work is a benefit to the government.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 dmm DC

On one hand, Congress -- the House in particular -- insists that there is too much Government, that government is providing too much help, that costs need to be cut, etc. etc. etc. Yet, here comes a Republican, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC), who suddenly wants government to do more for small business. Let us ignore the fact that despite calls to cut costs, Feds are often forced to award contracts to small business, not necessarily based on best product, quality of service or lowest cost, but because the proposal comes from a small business. Now admittedly, as chairman of the Small Business Committee, Mulvaney probably feels obliged to at least appear to be represent and want to help small business. Outsourcing has a place in government, however, if government is the primary support and income source for a small business, well, sorry, government isn't supposed to make decisions or perform functions just so that a small business can survive. I've been a contractor, a fed and a soldier, and definitely a tax paying US citizen in all those roles. While I recognize the value our contractors bring to our team, I've also been in situations where contractors walked off the job because there was an issue with payments to the outsource provider. As a fed or a soldier, walking off the job usually involves unpleasant and even negative legal consequences, even if one's pay was cut off. Consider the recent furlough threats. Many feds and soldiers would still be expected to be on the job, despite the fact that they may not see a paycheck for awhile. Outsourcing should be temporary -- for projects and functions -- a source for unique skills and knowledge until the Feds can get up to speed on the skills/functions or the appropriate number of Feds to do the work, if there is a continuous need, are hired. Instead, you will find many contractors -- some who have been with more than one company-- in the same position and agency, often with more longevity in the same positoin than many of the Feds working next to them. Unfortunately, Feds often aren't allowed to get up to speed and/or can't hire the talent needed, or aren't allowed to "grow their own" because it has become more important to keep those businesses -- small or otherwise -- afloat rather than get talented, qualified people on board who will be there to provide a service for the American people versus those who's primary purpose is, when all is said and done, to ensure their company continues to make a profit.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Some contractors are absolutely worthless. They get their contract merely based on connection and previous "retired military" status. This has been a culture thing in the federal government particularly the DoD where the hiring authority prefer to hire some retired old farts with a absolutely no skills rather than lips service or very rusted skills from 20-30 years ago. The Fraud, Waste, and Abuse agency should really look into this contracting out practice. The federal employees system is sound because all feds employees have a strict performance guideline based on position description for each grade and level.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 testpilot DC

The problem is with the Federal overhead in managing contractors, Federal employees don't work, they manage routine tasks. Generally they have no skills and are unable to make decisions without being trumped by leads who are more incompetant than them. Federal employees are paid a ridiculous wage and have no accountability. Federal jobs are little more than social welfare and compare their $50/hr salary to the $100/hr contractor rate. The contractor employee might get $35/hr salary, but will aggressively complete tasks. With that salary imbalance, it is easy for the government to use contractors as a staffing agency. In any technical environment, there is an equivalent GS-13 federal position for every contractor on site and every four 13's are managed by a 14, every four 14's are managed by a 15. That's a lot of 'non-value added' management in addition to the contractors own management structure where the work is actually performed.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 Tom VA

Bravo to the no-name post, I definitely agree with you - political profit is where its at these day. Don't let the politicians fool you with their "I care" smoke and mirrors. Look at the retired Senator Robert Murtha and his "airport" in PA. Pork at its finest moment, yet where were the protests when that massive taxpayer expense went down. I'm a mil retiree working as a contractor, I do what it takes to get the job done; no re-negotiations needed. We don't play well with "Its not in the contract" game; and with those that do play that game, the need for them may not be as strong next year when it comes time for renewal.

Fri, Jun 24, 2011

I agree, folks want to freeze the governement workforce right when we need to increase it by pulling various functions back into the government, saving money IMO, and providing better service to the american people.

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