Letters to the editor

Following are two responses to an FCW.com poll question that asked: Should government outsource more information technology services?

Outsourcing Opinions

If done correctly, some jobs could be contracted out to help the current workforce. Right now, the way I see it, the A-76 studies are being used to keep from paying benefits and retirement to employees.

When contractors come on-site to take over, they count on being able to hire most of the workforce back at lower wages and with fewer benefits.

I have seen many workers take other jobs in the government to keep from losing money. There are more than enough jobs outside the government, so the incoming contractors end up hiring substandard workers for the money they can afford to pay and still take their share off the top.

This comes at a time of downsizing every part of the Defense Department and automating everything. Only in the government would they try to downsize the automation staff.

Richard Luse Army Department

I don't understand the debate regarding public/private competitions ["End of the road for A-76?" May 6].

I fully understand the value of a market economy using competition to drive out poor performers and rewarding those who offer best value. What I don't understand is why we're having the debate at all. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution — you know, that guiding document for our government — states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

In other words, the role of government is specifically delineated in the Constitution, and if the function is not explicitly granted to the federal government, it should not do it.

Thus, if the commercial activity study shows a function is not inherently governmental, government ought not to do it. Period.

Phil Candreva U.S. Navy

The following is a response to an FCW.com poll question that asked: Do you support giving feds smart ID cards with biometric data, such as fingerprints, for building security?

A Smart Combination

Should smart cards and biometrics be used together to screen for building access? For some of us, this or similar technology has been in use separately for years.

To keep intruders out, I think the technology is well proven and much more secure when used in combination. Smart card systems employed at the Energy Department and its facilities appear to be very reliable when new, but they can be lost, stolen or duplicated.

Biometrics currently cannot be easily duplicated. The two technologies — along with alert, observant occupants — should be effective at keeping intruders out of our buildings.

Derek Jones Energy Department/Fluor Hanford Inc.

The following is a response to an FCW.com poll question that asked: Should the Office of Homeland Security be replaced by a Cabinet-level department?

Homeland Department Revisited

I think the Homeland Security Office is definitely an important office. My fear of making it a Cabinet-level department would be that it become bogged down in national politics.

It needs to be structured like the Federal Aviation Administration, which is an example of how a government agency can work for the benefit and safety of the people. The FAA is not an independent coalition that can be swayed by airline suppliers, nor is it a consumer coalition. It exists to protect the citizens and residents of the country. It has the appropriate authority, but at least from the perspective of a consumer, it does not appear to be bogged down by national politics.

I'm sure the FAA has its own politics like all organizations do, but it does not shift priorities with each administration, at least at a level that is visible to the average flying consumer.

Making the Homeland Security Office into a Cabinet-level administration in my mind would remove that focus on its purpose and bog it down in national politics more than is healthy.

Bob Smiley Pleasanton, Calif.

No Whining Here

Great column on people whining [Bureaucratus, April 22]! I love working for the Internal Revenue Service and have done so for more than 18 years.

My friends in private industry may make a little more than me, but I have great health insurance, vacation and sick leave, the Thrift Savings Plan and a lot more job security than they do. People always need something to complain about.

Kirsten Givens Internal Revenue Service

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