Letters to the editor
Following are responses to an FCW.com poll question that asked: Should government outsource more IT services?
My local experience is that it was to our organization's advantage to outsource our network administration and PC maintenance function. I led a team that collected data and studied this for more than 18 months at our organization. We briefed our commander with a recommendation to outsource these functions and demonstrated a significant cost savings.
We eventually outsourced, after the commander was replaced. The issues that prevented us from outsourcing earlier were the grade status of the civil service supervisors and the number of military staffing slots dedicated to the IT function.
I believe that a policy that forced us to consider outsourcing would have made this happen sooner. I don't believe that outsourcing would be appropriate in every situation.
System requirements are always evolving. It is much more efficient to have system changes be incorporated by government IT individuals rather than a contactor. With a contractor there is lot of delay having to negotiate system changes and then waiting for the actual contract modification.
Also, some requirements might not be incorporated because the contractor would charge too much for them. With a government-salaried IT worker, that would not be an issue.
Unless there are better controls than what we've experienced with airport security personnel then, no, government IT jobs should not be outsourced with security clearances.
Almost every day one reads where government agencies are relying on IT as the "silver bullet" in the war on terrorism. While IT may not be all of that, we don't want the gun blowing up in our faces.
I think they should. For the most part, government employees do not have the time to stay on top of the technology. It appears that civilian companies offer/demand more training to stay current with what's going on in the technology world. The government does not provide the quality of training needed to stay on top of technology changes.
Outsourced contracts may look good in the beginning before they are let. However, as soon as the contractor lands the contract, the service suffers greatly with the contractor doing the minimum to maintain the contract for its designated period. Outsourcing would work as long as someone keeps the contractors on their toes.
All names withheld by request