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Contractor compensation: Just a giveaway?

To our article "Deconstructing the contractor compensation debate," a reader commented: How can this be a democratic government when we have corrupt policies like this giving top executives money so they can keep doing business with the government. We are no better than the next guy down the road. You know, you get paid for the work you do and if you do not do it then that is it, go somewhere else to get that money. ... You would have some of the small companies be able to compete if they would stop giving away money to corporations. ... Think of the billions of dollars they would save if they would quit giving these top executives money. Someone's is in somebody's back pocket, think about it.

Mark Rockwell responds: It has to be difficult for agencies to find the right balance here, enough reimbursement to keep companies interested in the federal market, but not so much that it turns into a corporate giveaway. This issue feels akin to the difficulties federal agencies encounter in adopting public company management practices to operate in a more business-savvy way. While some of those practices--like making inspirational videos, or hosting expensive events—may not raise executive eyebrows at some private-sector companies, the same things can result in congressional hearings, resignations or even indictments if federal agencies indulge in them. Practical business management habits and practices common inside corporations, like cost-savings programs and more efficient bulk buying platforms, that have been embraced by federal agencies obviously aren’t as controversial.

The public should demand its tax dollars be spent well and it rightly abhors excesses. It also wants federal agencies to be more business-savvy and nimble enough to get good deals on the best services from the most able suppliers. The intersection of all those things is not an easy target to hit.

Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 10, 2013 at 9:36 AM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

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