Letters to the editor
Following are responses to an FCW.com poll question that asked: Should government outsource more IT services?
The money spent by each post, base or command in establishing or justifying privatization is in itself poor management when realizing the ramification of their recommendations. In some cases, it has taken two years to arrive at a status quo recommendation, and as other have found out — "the least expensive is not necessarily the best" It's inexcusable to initiate A-76 actions (job security for a few highly paid analysts) without consideration of the economic disruption to communities and families, the possible cost of unemployment or welfare benefits, the loss of individual income tax to the U.S. government, the loss of salaries spent in the local economy and the loss of a loyal productive individual.
With the downsizing/rightsizing/re-organizing or whatever label we want to give it, we've lost a lot of qualified specialists. The way things are looking now is that in order to survive, we are going to have to look to the outside to pick up qualified individuals to support our goals. The major downside of this is that we will be paying a much higher price to meet our needs. If only we had provided the in-house training to existing personnel, we might have had a greater impact on our return on investment. It's sort of late now to rectify this from a government employee perspective.
Outsourcing may be a viable alternative in some instances. However, personal experience is that where software is concerned, commercial off the shelf can't come close to what is developed and maintained by Veterans Health Administration developers.
It seems to me when you outsource, you end up with a large percent of the people you are trying to replace back in-house. Military and government civilians often end working for the winning consultant. Because the talent comes from the same pool, the government could get better talent if the hiring and pay rules were more flexible. It takes too long to get a government job and it takes forever to get competitive pay. We shouldn't replace all the technical staff and then leave ourselves vulnerable to paying more to be hoodwinked by the same staff we let go.
Names withheld by request