Letters to the editor

Contracting Out is Risky

With all that has happened, it boggles the mind that our "leaders" have not awakened to the fact that contracting out so much federal work may be risky, at best.

In my agency and in my department alone, more than one-third of the workforce (40 out of 106 people) is contracted. How do we know that terrorist informers are not among contractor employees who work on our bases, in our agencies and next to career government employees?

Screening contractor employees, even those who work in nonsensitive areas, hasn't been a priority, nor has it been done to any depth in the past. The FBI just doesn't have the staff to check each contractor employee to the extent needed to secure the safety of our information.

Just knowing the layout of our buildings and our bases is a bonus to those wanting to do harm.

Think again, "leaders." Is this just another open door to our country's security?

Name withheld by request

Give Red-Light Cameras a Go

I read with great interest the article "Battle lines form over red-light cameras" in the September issue of Government E-Business [also, "Seeing red on cameras at lights," FCW, Aug. 13].

We worked with the Texas legislature to change the laws this session to allow the cameras in Texas, but we were not successful this time. Red-light cameras are a cost-effective way to prevent collisions, save lives, reduce injuries, save money and increase voluntary compliance, which are all goals of an effective traffic safety program in a community. Now, some people want to cite privacy concerns. What privacy is being violated when an OFFENDER is photographed on a public street? If you don't want to be photographed, don't run the light!

Another criticism for the camera systems was that they cause an increase in rear-end collisions. The real reason for a rear-end collision is failure of the following driver to control his speed, and following too closely.

Busy intersections are difficult areas in which to enforce the law regarding red lights. Many times, an officer in a car or on a motor.cycle attempting to enforce the law creates a greater danger to the public than the harm he is seeking to prevent.

There are some other issues raised in the article that require thought, but the systems are beneficial and seem to have public support. The thorny issues can be worked out, and it is time to do that.

James Nowak

Lufkin, Texas, Police Department

American Indians and 8(a)

Carl Peckinpaugh's column "8(a) nod for native groups" [FCW, Sept. 10] is misleading—it does not make a distinction between businesses owned by Native American tribal governments and those owned by Native American individuals.

He complains that the Small Business Administration has different contracting requirements—one for businesses owned by nonprofit tribal governments and Native Hawaiian organizations and another for small businesses owned by minority individuals. The article reminds me of Donald Trump's laments regarding the unfairness of tribally owned Indian casinos.

Mr. Peckinpaugh seems to doubt that certain minority groups are socially and economically disadvantaged. According to the last published Indian Labor Force Report (1999), the unemployment rate of the available labor force living on or near Indian reservations was 43 percent. The rate for those employed but below poverty guidelines was 33 percent. In 1999, the poverty line was defined as a family of two with earned income of $10,850 or less; for a family of four, $13,650 or less.

Tribal governments use the income generated from tribally owned business to fund governmental programs, such as education, transportation, child care, housing and elderly assistance and, on occasion, distribute payments to tribal members.

Apparently, Mr. Peckinpaugh fails to see the value of tribal governments becoming more self-sufficient and providing jobs on Indian reservations where high unemployment is rampant.

Finally, the statement that "these and other special rules give 'native American' companies a huge advantage over other 8(a) concerns" seems to be an attempt to play the race card. Contrary to the false impression given by Mr. Peckinpaugh, individual Native Americans do not enjoy special rules to the disadvantage of black or Hispanic groups. Individual Native Americans are treated the same as other minorities under 8(a). Name withheld by request

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