Keeping TRAC of jobs
- By Milt x_Zall
- Apr 23, 2001
Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) collected more than 100 co- sponsors when he re-introduced
the Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability in Contracting (TRAC)
Act in February.
The bill, which is a new version of legislation that died in Congress
last year, would suspend privatizing or outsourcing federal work until the
federal government establishes reporting and monitoring systems to track
the costs of contracting. Currently, federal agencies blindly assume that
promised savings from outsourcing are being realized, but nobody is watching
the store. Government managers have been caught asleep at the wheel.
Once again, Congress is trying to legislate good management. It's pathetic
that it had to get to this point. Why aren't federal managers concerned
about operational costs? Can you imagine a manager in a private-sector firm
not monitoring expenses? He wouldn't last very long.
In this instance, not only are government managers failing to monitor
costs, they're not even watching their own backs. Monitoring contractor
costs can potentially save government jobs if the data shows that it's more
expensive to outsource. These guys aren't even good bureaucrats, let alone
Meanwhile, all of the government employee unions are complaining about
outsourcing. The best way to prevent having government jobs outsourced is
to show that the government would save money by doing the work in-house.
Wynn should be commended for stepping in and trying to take charge, but
you have to ask yourself why government managers didn't do this on their
A right-wing think tank called the Reason Public Policy Institute maintains,
"There is much evidence to show that privatization has resulted in few,
if any, layoffs and that public employees can actually benefit in the long
term from private-sector management." According to this outfit, out-sourcing
is good for feds. Yeah, right!
These guys have the chutzpah to say, "Reductions in force are usually
accomplished through attrition instead of layoffs. Private contractors and
public officials are aware of the intense opposition privatization can create,
and have developed effective strategies to soften, if not overcome, such
objections. Reducing the workforce through attrition to an efficient level
provides private contractors the time to win over employees and establish
a level of trust."
The more I delve into this, the funnier it gets. The unions are complaining
about something that their members could have prevented. And the contractors
are saying that outsourcing doesn't result in a loss of jobs! Well, if it
doesn't, then why do it? I thought outsourcing was supposed to produce savings.
You may want to tell your friends who enjoy the comics to read this column.
Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus
column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at email@example.com.