Letters to the editor

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

As we have seen time and time again, price is usually the deciding factor in awarding a contract. The low bidder is rarely qualified to complete the job as necessary, requiring either follow-on contracts or re-awarding a contract. It is less costly to keep the experts in place.

D.R. Moody

Air Force

***

Reasons why I think government should do its own IT:

1. Security. Many contractors automatically give new employees confidential clearances until they have been investigated — which may take months. Imagine what damage can be done in the meantime.

2. Cost. Contractor labor rates (loaded with overhead) are much higher than General Services Administration or Navy Department rates, which is what we charge our sponsors.

3. Expertise. We need to keep the capability in-house, especially with the mergers of many contractors into a few who can then dictate how much.

4. Trust. I trust the government more than the contractors. On the other hand, we are all human and prone to making mistakes and taking the easy way out, especially when there's profit involved.

Name withheld by request

***

If Congress and the White House want to eliminate government workers, there is a better way to accomplish the mission than to fire personnel. One way is to slowly contract out work. As government employees retire, move their functions to contract personnel. Government employees can save money if given the chance. Why not see if the government organization can cut 10 percent of its costs before invoking A-76 rules.

Name withheld by request

***

My answer (yes) is ambivalent, because although it is clear that contractors have more IT knowledge than most government managers (and in many cases more management knowledge too), there are many unsolved problems with outsourcing: rivalry between contractors, reluctance of contractors to subcontract when appropriate, lack of service-level agreements and clear measures of performance, lack of knowledge about contractor performance within government and inadequate skill assessments of contractors.

Name withheld by request

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