Outsourcing makes sense

In its latest report the Defense Science Board repeated a recommendation that the Defense Department get out of those lines of business that are not part of its core function and focus on operations that only it can perform - warfighting for example. Outsourcing to the private sector duties such as running computer data centers and payroll centers has been suggested before. It also meets the oft-stated goal of having government behave more like a business.

However outsourcing at DOD has never gotten very far because Congress always steps in and nixes ideas that threaten jobs in home districts. If you wonder whether that is true check the data centers in Rep. Bob Livingston's district.

The pot of money available to government shrinks each year as legislators move toward the promised balanced budget so competition for the remaining funds grows. If we have to choose between a tank a jet fighter and a payroll system we know where we want DOD to spend its capital. We can purchase payroll services from the private sector at a much lower rate.

Before Congress automatically preserves the old notion of staffing these data centers with government employees why not try a couple of pilot programs to see what the private sector can do? We suspect Congress will discover what DOD already knows: Outsourcing can offer better technology at a lower price. The jobs do not need to be lost they can move to the private sector with the business. A smaller less expensive government is what politicians in the last election said that they wanted. This is an opportunity to put their money where their mouths have been.

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