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Just about three years ago, Secretary of Labor Chao was crowing that the Department of Labor was the first government agency to have gotten all green on their No Federal Agency Left Behind report cards - and that the way DOL  had clawed its way to the top was by privatizing DOL employee’s jobs.

But as it turns out . . . the picture in DOL privatization land is not especially rosy . . . when the truth comes out . . . as it often does when the Government Accountability Office starts checking into things.

crossposted from unbossed

To digress a bit and dump on the DOL, this is not sole irony. In fact ironies just about doesn’t get any better than life at the U.S. Department of Labor under Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

You see, it used to be the case that the DOL was an agency whose mission was to protect workers and improve their lot. The range of government agencies under the DOL is breathtaking.

And except for Chao’s baby, the Center for Faith-Based &  Community Initiatives (CFBCI), they are critical for important worker wellbeing, including jobs, health and safety, pay, and more. But all agencies under Chao have become at best do nothing for workers and at worst have actively undermined worker welfare.

I say this with sorrow, not just for the workers who are supposed to be protected, but also for the brave federal employees who care about the mission of their agencies and have hung on through a terrible period. Without them, we would see real collapse.

Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice sums up the situation well here.

Chao has continued to pursue her task of undermining worker welfare to the bitter end, including the promulgation of stealth regulations to undermine worker rights.  In fact, you can find a compendium of unbossed pieces on the Chao DOL here.

The Big LIE about Privatization

For years, we have been fed a line that privatization actually saves money. But when you check into the facts behind the claims, you find only that there are claims behind the claims, at best.

When the cherry blossoms bloom each spring, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which assists the President in preparing the federal budget and oversees and coordinates the Administration's procurement policies, releases a sunny report on the large amounts of money taxpayers have saved as a result of the government’s privatization initiatives. Only a careful reader would notice that all the purported savings are not fact; they are projections. And those projections stretch credibility while ignoring costs associated with privatization.
. . .
OMB silently acknowledged the validity of criticism of its cost and benefit accounting in its FY2007 report: "OMB recently asked agencies to establish validation plans on a reasonable sampling of competitions to ensure that cost savings and performance improvements are being realized as promised." This pressure may explain why billions in savings claimed for FY2006 became mere millions claimed for FY 2007.

OMB’s numbers consistently fail to include the costs of privatization in the equation.

That report goes on to list a number of costs of privatization that OMB consistently does not include in assessing the costs of privatization, assuming any real assessment were done. Which is a big assumption.

What DOL Privatization Has Really Meant

GAO has issued report after report on failures of contracting out work, some massive, some just awful. As part of unbossed, leave no crook, thief or miscreant behind, we have tried to include summaries of these reports on a regular basis.

On Friday, the GAO released a report in which it took up the challenge of assessing costs of privatization, and the subject of its examination was Chao’s green-sticker DOL. The report is just a great read that shows GAO at its best.

Here are some excerpts to give you a flavor of the report.

[W]ithout a better system to track deficiencies and improvements departmentwide and identify all the costs associated with competitive sourcing, it will be difficult to assess whether competitive sourcing truly provides the best deal for the taxpayer. To accurately determine which management tool is most cost-effective in performing a certain activity, agencies need a full accounting of the costs and performance.

The report goes on to list specific ways in which DOL’s claims of savings are "oversold".

DOL’s savings reports for competitive sourcing, while adhering to OMB guidance, exclude a number of substantial costs and also are unreliable. OMB’s guidance directs agencies to exclude certain costs associated with the competitions, such as some staff costs and costs incurred before the competition’s announcement. These costs can be substantial. In addition, DOL’s savings reports are unreliable for a number of reasons. For example, we found cases of inflated savings reports due to calculation errors, the use of projections rather than actual costs, and the use of baseline costs that were inaccurate and misrepresented actual savings.

GAO notes that these problems are not limited to the DOL. They are endemic to the system.

Previous GAO reports have cited problems at other federal agencies —  DOD and USDA’s Forest Service, in particular — because they did not develop comprehensive estimates for the costs associated with competitive sourcing. This report identifies similar problems at DOL. To enhance the transparency surrounding their estimates of savings from competitive sourcing, federal agencies need to track all costs — including planning costs, transition costs, postcompetition monitoring, and the labor costs of all staff who participate in competitions.

We found that DOL does not ensure that identified deficiencies and recommendations are tracked and followed up on at a departmentwide level. Without such departmentwide tracking, DOL is hindered in identifying and monitoring agencywide competitive sourcing performance trends, reliably determining whether all deficiencies or recommendations for improvement have been addressed, or determining whether the new organization is working more efficiently. Moreover, if DOL continues to conduct more competitions that involve multiple DOL offices, the ability to track competitions departmentwide will become increasingly important.

We also found that in a sample of three of DOL’s savings reports to Congress, all three contained errors that overstated the savings achieved through competitive sourcing, two of which were significant. Without reliable savings assessments, policymakers do not have the information that they need to determine the effectiveness of competitive sourcing.

In the case of the DOL, it turns out that after some work has been privatized, contractors have been unable to perform all the work, so government workers have had to continue to do work that was supposed to be done by the contractor. The cost of the public employees' labor on work that has been "contracted out" is not included in assessing costs and benefits.

That certainly is a cost that needs to be included. Both those salaries and the cost of contracting out work and dislocating the workers who actually could do the job.

The impact on government workers who keep their jobs

One thing that is really sad in this report is the toll privatization has taken on DOL workers. This toll is one that affects the quality of work they can do and has meant that many have left rather than stay at an agency where they are subjected to such abuse. Their loss is our loss.

In considering the impact on DOL workers, it is important to know that most of the time the government workers won the competition. All this cost in dollars and people has been essentially an exercise of running in place.

Furthermore, most of the workers affected have been minorities and women. In other words, groups who are supposed to be protected by the government have been harmed under the Chao DOL.

DOL’s competitions rarely resulted in lost jobs or salary reductions for DOL workers, but many experienced changes to their jobs, and those we interviewed who were involved in the process reported negative impacts on morale. In the 28 competitions DOL held during fiscal years 2004 through 2007, a total of 314 employees experienced formal changes to their jobs (that is, changes reflected in personnel actions). Of these employees, 248 were reassigned to different positions within DOL at the same federal grade and salary level, and 15 were promoted to a higher federal grade level. Another 16 were demoted to a lower federal grade level, but these employees generally retained the same salary they had before the competition due to grade or salary protection provisions. Of the remaining workers who left DOL, 29 left voluntarily through retirement or with a monetary separation incentive. Only 6 employees were laid off from the federal workforce.

Among those 314 workers who experienced a personnel action of some type, 47 percent were African-American (including all those who were either demoted or laid off), 60 percent were women, and 89 percent were 40 years old or older — significantly higher proportions than their representation in the general DOL workforce overall.

DOL management stated that they made their best efforts to treat well those employees whose jobs were competed. For example, they offered reassignments, voluntary early retirement options, separation incentives, and other services for career transition. Nevertheless, in our interviews with DOL employees who assisted with competition activities or whose positions were affected by the competitions — though not a representative sample — we found that employees who were satisfied, as well as those who were dissatisfied, with the competitive sourcing process reported negative impacts on morale for themselves and others.

The report finds that the impact on morale is seen as having long lasting negative effects on agency productivity and on the ability to recruit qualified new workers.

The report is Department of Labor: Better Cost Assessments and Departmentwide Performance Tracking Are Needed to Effectively Manage Competitive Sourcing Program   GAO-09-14, November 21, 2008

Originally posted to shirah on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 07:27 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Other reports will show the same or worse (144+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rayne, noabsolutes, RonV, rincewind, Sherri in TX, lysias, akeitz, eeff, caliberal, sobermom, MarkInSanFran, bumblebums, Gustogirl, opinionated, bronte17, conchita, peace voter, roses, peraspera, oceanview, marysz, CocoaLove, sidnora, wader, pdl ithaca, GN1927, defluxion10, lcrp, alizard, barbwires, walkshills, Cordelia Lear, ybruti, side pocket, OrangeClouds115, bablhous, Josiah Bartlett, bibble, Gowrie Gal, rapala, marina, radarlady, Othniel, seesdifferent, Heiuan, Chinton, irate, panicbean, Simplify, ChemBob, reflectionsv37, lennysfo, owlbear1, FrostyKotex, cfk, blue jersey mom, Bob B, Rosemary, Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, bookwoman, timba, CJnyc, skywriter, martini, Shirl In Idaho, CParis, Keone Michaels, Pinko Elephant, RustyBrown, Naranjadia, Ellicatt, Gorette, seefleur, ccmask, Crashing Vor, imabluemerkin, Sagebrush Bob, ER Doc, Randolph06, rage, MadMs, Eikyu Saha, Granny Doc, DBunn, pgm 01, dotsright, Cronesense, possum, FishOutofWater, operculum, greenchiledem, ezdidit, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, newpioneer, RosyFinch, Seneca Doane, mudslide, Newzie, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, gchaucer2, dgone36, willb48, oxon, Empower Ink, Youffraita, Lujane, Tam in CA, mofembot, bakenjuddy, luckylizard, Blueslide, Scubaval, shortgirl, humanunit, 1BQ, Menlo Park Mom, Rhysling, Neon Vincent, litoralis, Discipline28, CanyonWren, SciVo, Daily Activist, babajimbob, MKSinSA, Losty, Wendy Slammo, Norbrook, p gorden lippy, TheWesternSun, Ronald Singleterry, mtnlvr, ItsSimpleSimon, WattleBreakfast, Floande, CA Berkeley WV, nosleep4u, AMfromATL, Onomastic, kerflooey, bluebuckaroo, grannyboots

    results as the studies start to include more of the real costs of privatization.

  •  Privitization does not work. Private (36+ / 0-)

    medical insurance for seniors costs more than traditional medicare. Look at what privitization has done to the costs for the Iraq War. this is just one more Republican bad idea.

  •  Thanks for focussing (8+ / 0-)

    on a neglected department. With HHS off the table, I'm hoping to hear announcement of Secretary of Labor Dean soon.

  •  The predator government in action, as described (7+ / 0-)

    in James Galbraith's book The Predator Government.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 07:38:39 AM PST

  •  Privatixation is for cronyism, not efficiency (26+ / 0-)

    Thomas Frank talks about privatization in his new book, "The Wrecking Crew".  He argues that privatization was never about making government more efficient.  Instead, privatization is really about turning over the public's dollars to private interests (who are often campaign contributors to the politicians who support privatization).

    Viewed in this light, it's not surprising that claims of cost savings turned out to be completely phony.

    •  We've reached the point (8+ / 0-)

      where they no longer need even the fig leaf of privatization. They've looted the treasury of $700 billion dollars openly, publicly, and shamelessly.

      The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

      by sidnora on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:17:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But privatization still proceeds apace (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peace voter, marina

        Enough is never enough for these guys.

        •  Not according to that report (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shirah

          The appendix show 28 competitions over 4 years, and only 3 were lost. The table also shows that very few companies choose to bid on these jobs, and in a few cases, they received zero bids from industry. Many large, reputable companies won't bid on these A-76 competitions as a matter of policy; they see them as poisonous.

          •  By privatization, I mean the A-76 process, not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rincewind

            just that work is actually contracted out. The report shows that that process has very high costs. Some are in dollars and some are in the toll on the people. And those costs are incurred whether or not the work is every privatized.

            •  Yes, I'm talking about A-76 also (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JG in MD

              Again, many reputable companies see them as bad business and simply won't bid on these types of contracts. Reputable companies want to work in a postive environment of partnership with the government, not in a hostile environment where their chance of success is slim.

              Just a small example. In the report you cite, a number of competitions are listed. A typical company would spend about 160 person-hours to put that bid together. The report says the DOL spent in excess of 2,300 person-hours to put the bid together on the government side, and in some cases, they even hire contractors to help them put their bids together! If I were Kinkos, that is not the kind of bid I would want to spend my precious bid and proposal dollars on. I'd look for other business.

          •  And in addition, consider the proportionality (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rincewind

            of the costs when the competitions show that the federal employees overwhelmingly won out over the contractors.

            •  Costs are not always costs (0+ / 0-)

              In the rules of A-76 competitions, the government is given an automatic cost advantage. This is off the top of my head - but as I recall, the private competitor bid has to be at least 15% cheaper for them to win. Not exactly an even playing field. Another reason why the government receives very few bids from industry. But, it doesn't dissuade the less reputable, "fly by night" companies from bidding them. Then, the government ends up with perfomance problems.

              •  Clear evidence of savings is required (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rincewind
                - or should be. It wasn't at first.

                However, since it is difficult to account for all costs, the requirement of 10 or 15% less cost to privatize is a way to try to ensure there really will be savings.

                For example, one type of cost that is hard to quantify but clear, is a drop in efficiency as work is transferred between organizations. In addition there are inefficiencies in communicating between or among different organizations.

                By the way "put the lie to" is a common phrase and does not in any way mean calling someone a liar.

                •  Of course clear savings are required (0+ / 0-)

                  Otherwise what is the point? My point is that clear savings are required, AND THEN SOME. In A-76 competitions, the government is given a distinct financial advantage.

                  Look at the table in your report. Very few companies competed for the work that was being outsourced for the DOL work, and some cases, none. And, I'll say it again. Reputable companies, as a matter of policy, will not bid on A-76 contracts, and there are many reasons for that; it is not an even playing field, they are conducted in a hostile atmosphere, and many of the companies do not want to hire the government employees for a number of valid reasons. And, they are extremely expensive. Looking at the list in your DOL table, a number of those bids could be put together with about 1 person month of labor by the contractor. The Goverment employees (from your report) spent in excess of 2,300 person-hours for their bid, and sometimes hired contractors to help them put their proposals together! As a company, that is not work I would want to pursue or spend my bid and proposal money on. Why do you think you don't see companies like IBM, Lockheed, or Northrop pursuing this kind of business with the government? Its a losing proposition.

                  •  There are two requirements (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    shirah

                    involving that item. If there are a large number of government employees being displaced and it is a normal bidding process the contracting officer may change line 1, base pay, by increasing it 10% to account for those costs. If that is done, the CO may require that the agency bidding increase its labor costs by some amount up to 15%. Bush's appointees always add it. It was the difference in the Walter Reed facilities contract.

                    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                    by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:47:53 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Department of Tortured Statistics.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, lennysfo, Bob B, MKSinSA

    Chao's day is coming.

  •  Privatization at its best is merely a wash (10+ / 0-)

    Bill Clinton instituted a huge wave of privatization in the early 1990's as part of the "peace dividend" drawdown of the DoD.  Much of this was done via "A-76 studies" that evaluated whether or not a particular operation could be beneficially privatized.

    It was largely a disaster.

    Aircraft repair depots went from active duty labor to a mix of contractors and civil servants.  As a consequence, repair times roughly doubled.  The problem was so bad that DoD expanded the use of "Contract Field Teams" (CFT) to take up the slack.

    A typical CFT would be a handful of civilian contractors to do the work, and a military project officer to perform oversight, scheduling, inspection, etc.  CFTs came to handle about 49% of the aircraft heavy maintenance workload (outsourcing under Clinton gave the privatized depots legal rights to 51% of the available work).

    The success of a CFT depends on both the contractor and the military project officer.  If both are committed to delivering good work, they can be hugely successful.  Staffed by slugs, they aren't any better than the privatized depots.

    One problem that plagues privatized operations is that they operate on a 2-year contract.  In theory, this gives the government an "out" in the event of bad performance.  What it really means is that no one with any real skills wants to hire on for a 2-year gig, so getting good labor is difficult-to-impossible.

    I spent several years as the project officer for one of the outstanding CFTs.  My contractor displayed what the system could be capable of--given a commitment to do outstanding work.  However, I've seen some bad ones.  I've also worked closely with the privatized depot system.  The best thing that could happen to the depots is to fire the contractors and civil servants, re-militarize the function, and start from scratch.

    •  GAO reports have essentially (8+ / 0-)

      come to that conclusion - not explicitly but it's the obvious conclusion.

      Things are so bad with the use of huge numbers of contractors coming in and out:

      * that are supposed to have security clearances for the work they do that they are just letting them do the work anyway with no clearances.

      * and the work of doing security clearances - a sensitive position if there is any - is being done by  . . . contractors.

      Here are a few links on this subject.

      May 18, 2007 New Reports on National Security and Privatization - The News is NOT Good http://www.unbossed.com/...

      May 23, 2007 Contractor security clearance problems - follow up http://www.unbossed.com/...

      February 18, 2008 DOD contractor security clearances - "data were either unavailable or insufficiently reliable" http://www.unbossed.com/...

      •  The obvious conclusion... (9+ / 0-)

        ...should be that for-profit operations operate for profit.  Delivering services and performance are secondary to profit.

        Profit is a great motivator in private enterprise where the public has a choice of whether or not to patronize the for-profit business.  Patronage serves the role of overseer--screw up and lose customers.

        Government does not fit that for-profit model, and citizens do not have freedom of choice.  Since oversight is generally ineffective, a disaster results.

        •  A lesson is that markets are (6+ / 0-)

          not perfect, not the solution to everything that ails ya.

          There is no market competition for government work that is privatized, so there is no market accountability. And since this work is no longer in the public sector - well there goes government accountability.

          The result - when you let a privateer operate with no accountability - is what you'd expect - lawlessness.

          •  I don't understand this statement: (0+ / 0-)

            There is no market competition for government work that is privatized,

            Print and reproduction services? IT support? Facility maintenance? Property records management? There's no market competition for those functions?

            •  Once it is privatized and for the term of the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rincewind, chigh

              contract, there is NO competition. Supposedly there will be competition at the end of the contract, but so far that is not working as privatization proponents say it will.

              What you are doing is buying the claims without looking at the data.

              I suggest you mosey on over to GAO and other reputable sources and examine their studies. The one I write about clearly puts the lie to the claims you are making - though they are still widely believed and have been heavily sold by the administration.

              But in the reality based universe they are just untrue.

              •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

                The contracts are usually structured as 5 year contracts, 1 base year, and 4 option years. The government can choose to not exercise option years. In fact, they can terminate for default at any time they want for performance issues. And, many of these contracts have liquidated damages clauses - where the contractor has to pay the government the cost of the ensuing re-competition.

                Also, notwithstanding what I just said, many people believe that once a civil servant has a job, he/she has a job for life. It is extremely difficult to terminate a civil servant, and even when there's a rock solid reason to do so, it takes months and years. A contractor employee can be fired in minutes.

                I suggest you mosey on over to GAO and other reputable sources

                I'm extremely familiar with them and many of them show some real success stories.

                puts the lie to the claims you are making -

                Please don't call me a liar. I'm only participating in your diary because I see it as extremely one-sided. If you want to keep it that way and ensure that there is absolutely no dissension or disagreement with your POV, I'll gladly move to another diary. But, no need to insult or wage personal attacks.

                •  This would depend on successful oversight (8+ / 0-)

                  The contracts are usually structured as 5 year contracts, 1 base year, and 4 option years. The government can choose to not exercise option years. In fact, they can terminate for default at any time they want for performance issues.

                  Look at the difficulty that Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA) has in providing oversight.  While I was working aircraft contract issues at Little Rock, I got to know the regional DCMA staff quite well.  Their office of 4 inspectors had oversight of everything in a four state area.  

                  They were hopelessly overworked, and contractors with enough governmental clout were successful in keeping these inspectors from even entering their plants.

                  Several commercial aircraft crashes--including the ValueJet aircraft that pancaked into the Everglades after an inflight fire--can be attributed to an over-extended FAA inspector force being unable to provide sufficient oversight.

                  Attacking oversight by shrinking government has been the GOP theme for years.  The problem with outsourcing is that providing enough oversight to render the contractors honest eats up the savings that outsourcing is supposed to generate.

                  In the absence of robust oversight, the idea that contractor performance will be consistently enforced is laughable.  The little guys might have their feet held to the fire, but the big, politically connected companies--not so much.

                  •  Two subjects (0+ / 0-)

                    First, you are right about the DCMA. It is understaffed. In my opinion, deliberately so, by a Republican administration and a Congress that doesn't see it as an extremely important function - to keep companies honest and ensure the government's best interests are represented. Further, imo, this is an inherently government function which should be done by civil servants. Take the civil servants out of the print and reprographics shop at DOL and train them to work at DCMA.

                    FAA accident inspectors is also a function better performed by civil servants. There's no argument there. But, let's be honest. The FAA accident inspectors outsource alot of support work to companies to support their investigations - materials lab analysis, analysis of data on flight data recorders, etc. Should all of that be insourced also? or better left to companies who do this kind of work on a routine basis?

                    •  I've been a forensic engineer (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      shirah

                      for 20 years and have, many times, worked with the NTSB on transportation accident scenes. I'm not aware they outsource any of their work.

                      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                      by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:41:52 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Oversight must accompany outsourcing (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      shirah

                      You are correct that there are inherently governmental functions that should never be outsourced.  These include military, police, emergency responder, and any watchdog function.  In fact, these should never even be blended with outsourcing (such as using Blackwater Security mercenaries in lieu of military personnel where there is the potential for offensive combat).

                      However, when I cited DCMA and FAA, my point had nothing to do with preventing outsourcing of inherently governmental functions.  My point was that, in the absence of robust government oversight, any outsourcing is likely to fail.  Even something as simple as reprographics is open for abuse in the absence of oversight.

                      Therefore, the fiscal success of outsourcing must be offset by the cost of robust oversight.

                      Your reprographics example is a function that is probably best handled as neither civil service nor private contractor.  Most pubs are best dealt with locally.  The pubs library could issue CD-ROM or similar media to local government offices, and let them send print-on-demand business to the local print shop--without contract or franchise.  No need for a single vendor to have a multi-year contract for the work.  Oversight would be on a per-job basis at the local level.

                      However, more complicated, critical, and costly work requires more oversight.  This hasn't been done well, and as a result, outsourcing hasn't provided the savings it was supposed to provide.

                      •  And take into account that study after study (0+ / 0-)

                        shows oversight and accountability do not happen.

                        So at what cost do we contract out?

                        •  We fix oversight and accountability (0+ / 0-)

                          The problem isn't limited to outsourcing.  Civil service can be just as inefficiency-prone as privatization.

                          One problem is that the federal employee's union acts about like any other union--for the sake of membership it tends to protect complete slugs who are nothing but a load on their co-workers' backs.  

                          A fix is in-work in the form of FERS, the most recent federal employee's HR system.  FERS makes disciplinary action and firing a lot easier, but it opens the door for abusive supervisors.  After retiring from the military, I did a short stint as a civil servant, but resigned when I realized that my regional manager was just such an abuser.

                          I suppose if human beings didn't have a tendency to be selfish, cheating, abusive assholes, all this would be a lot easier.  But we are who we are, so oversight is necessary.

                          Getting back to outsourcing, we should follow these guidelines:

                          1.  Outsourcing for the sake of ideology is stupid (ditto for insourcing).  Speed, cost, and quality should be the only drivers for an outsourcing decision
                          1.  Don't outsource inherently governmental functions.  These include emergency services, combat forces, law enforcement, and oversight
                          1.  Don't outsource anything where providing services is significantly more important than cost

                          What can be outsourced?

                          1.  Any local function that is intermittent (the occasional print job)
                          1.  Functions that are easily inspectable
                          1.  Functions that are local and stable (military equipment maintenance can be partially outsourced)
                          •  And remember that you can never predict (0+ / 0-)

                            all costs in advance when contracting out work. That's why you need clear evidence that it is worth doing.

                            There's been a management fashion of saying you should only keep core competencies and then contract out everything else. But it ignores the problem of divided loyalty created by having work done by different employers. These management fashions have cost us a lot of efficiency.

                            And there must always be oversight.

                •  Call centers and (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rincewind

                  "Put the lie to" does not mean calling someone a liar. It just means showing that something is wrong.

                  In any case, a number of privatized call centers have had their work taken away because of poor performance.

                  Here are two as
                  EEOC Call Center - http://www.eeoc.gov/...

                  Medicare Part D Call Center Problems - Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Plan Sponsor Call Center Responses Were Prompt, but Not Consistently Accurate and Complete GAO-06-710, June 30, 2006

                  •  I'm familiar with the EEOC issues (0+ / 0-)

                    It was an outsourcing pilot project. What ended up happening had nothing to do with Vangent's (the contractor) performance. It was primarily due to:

                    1. Belief by some congressional folks that taking claims of employment discrimination is a highly sensitive function and should be inherently governmental.
                    1. The Bush Administration's lack of interest in funding this at the appropriate level. EEOC isn't exactly a Republican priority. Congress even had to add $5M over Bush's funding request.
                    1. It became heavily politicized by the AFGE and AFL-CIO. This was a losing proposition for any company pursuing this contract. But, a company like Vangent, will bid anything for a buck.

                    Note that when it was insourced, EEOC had to spend millions on consultants to train/augment and help the civil service staff managing the effort. In fact, 80% of the Vangent staff who staffed the call center itself became civil servants.

                  •  Lies and Liars (0+ / 0-)

                    "Put the lie to" does not mean calling someone a liar.

                    Please be precise. You said "Puts the lie to your claim". No ifs ands or buts, you called me a liar.

        •  If a company has a poor performance record (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shirah

          They won't be winning many new government contracts. In fact, many are terminated on existing contracts for poor performance.

          •  That's the theory, but not the practice (4+ / 0-)

            In fact, in some cases, it just gets too hard to bring the work back in-house. Many GAO reports show that once out work stays out.

            Consider the case of Halliburton and KBR - companies that have gotten contract after contract even though they have failed to come through. That is more the story of what happens than not. I know they are no-bid contracts, but this paradigm applies to A-76 processes and state processes as well.

            •  I would agree on this.... (0+ / 0-)

              Haliburton and KBR have much to answer for. And, the fact that those contracts weren't competed is a complete travesty.

              But, we're talking about DOL outsourcing printing and reprographic services to Kinkos. I see that as a smart business decision for the government, business, and the taxpayer.

    •  I'm familiar with the privitization of the repair (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JohnnySacks

      depots. Undoubtedly, they were some of the most ambitious privitization efforts in government. Results were indeed mixed. But, it allowed the military to accomplish one of their primary objectives - use uniformed military for combat, and not for support functions. Many of the Generals completely embrace this objective. They want their troops on the front lines, not as mechanics in a repair depot.

      •  Well, there are certainly mixed reviews (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind

        as to that issue. Some of those issues were discussed as a side story here and here.

        But why don't you link to the reports you are relying on?

        •  I didn't see anthing in those links (0+ / 0-)

          regarding depot repair facilities. I probably missed them. The links are long.

          However, I did see the controversy regarding the base operations support contract at Walter Reed. Base operations support contracts include functions like facility maintenace, gate and building security guards, landscaping maintenance, trash removal and disposal, etc.

          In my opinion, these are not essential government functions and are without a doubt, services best provided by companies who do that kind of work.  We as individuals make these kinds of decisions in our every day lives. At your home, if you didn't have city/county trash services, would you buy a truck and haul your trash to the dump or would you hire a trash company to pick up your trash every week?

          •  They were done better (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shirah

            for less money by government employees. Among the work force displaced by the contractor responsible for the scandalous state of the Hospital, was a group of laundry and janitorial staff that was predominately mentally challenged people in their first independent jobs. They had received awards for punctuality, attendance and low turnover. They were efficient and motivated and the jobs made them independent. The contractors who replaced them trashed one of the finest medical facilities in the world.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:12:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Don't They Pay Less for Enlistments? (6+ / 0-)

        You know, the potato peeler KP stereotype might not be a glamorous job, but don't we as taxpayers pay double or triple for the KBR Halliburton contractor to do the same?  Didn't it used to be a rotating position which everyone used to share as part of their duty?

        I guess it's better to use soldiers for combat, but isn't it severely demeaning to be doing all the deadly work while being served meals by a contractor who is being paid double or more?  Piss on that!

        •  Excellent point (0+ / 0-)

          To continue with your potato peeler example. Today, in Iraq or Afghanistan, that function is being performed by contractors. And, it is done at extraordinary expense. Believe it or not, from bids I've seen, about $200K per potato-peeler. Why? First, you have to pay someone alot more to go to Iraq and risk their lives along with the hardship associated with living there. You have to pay for their housing and security costs, and you have to pay for insurance. Insurance for a civilian in a battle area is extremely expensive. There is no doubt in my mind this could be done alot cheaper with an E-1 Private, as it had been done in decades past.

          But, the size of the US Army to include Regular, Reserve, and Guard troops is aoubt 1 million. In Persian Gulf War I, it was about 1.4 million. In Vietman, 2 million, WWII about 4 million. For the Army to use uniformed personnel to peel potatoes, the only way they can do so is to re-institute the draft. And, so far, the American public has not been willing to do so. So, we hire contractors to peel potatoes.

          However, if you need a potato peeler in the DOL cafeteria, there is no doubt in my mind it can be performed cheaper with a contractor than a civil servant. Why would we want civil servants doing this kind of work anyway? I would rather use them as OSHA inspectors rather than potato peelers.

          •  The potato peelers in Iraq (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shirah, JohnnySacks

            are mostly poor people from other countries. They work for a pittance, live in horrible conditions and often have their passports seized so they cannot leave, even if they could get themselves home.

            The contractors and subcontractors pad their bids in a huge way.

            Consider Salim Khan, a dishwasher at a forward operating base in the volatile Iraqi province of Diyala. For about $1.25 an hour, the Pakistan native will work two years for a Saudi-based food-services firm, Tamimi.

            Tamimi is a subcontractor to KBR, which itself was, until recently, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the mega-corporation that has won most of the big money contracts in Iraq.

            Across the heavily fortified American bases in Iraq, men and women like Salim Khan cook the food, clean the dishes, chop the vegetables, take out the garbage and clean the latrines.

            In military parlance, they're known as "TCNs" or "third country nationals," but they might as well be called third-world nationals. Most of the cheap U.S. labor in Iraq comes from places like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines and India. The average wage for these workers is about $20 a day; most work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

            The Pentagon and the State Department, under fire for the use of security contractors, have largely ignored the issue of fair labor practices among its contractors and subcontractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently noted contractors "take the place of soldiers" to do other, more pressing work.

            NPR

            The U.S. is paying a high price to promote human trafficking.

            In relying on a workforce of third-country nationals, however, the U.S. has embraced a system of labor migration rife with abuse, corruption and exploitation, according to dozens of contractors, migrant workers, labor officials and advocates interviewed in four countries.

            The system revolves around so-called labor brokers, whose numbers have exploded during the last decade in the Middle East and Asia. Such agencies take advantage of porous borders and rising global demand for cheap labor to move poor workers from one country to low-paying jobs in another.

            Although millions of Iraqis are desperate for jobs, the U.S. military requires that contractors such as KBR hire foreigners to work at bases to avoid the possibility of insurgent infiltration.

            Willing to work anywhere, the laborers often take out usurious loans to pay the agencies a finder's fee for the overseas jobs. Once abroad, the workers find themselves with few protections and uncertain legal status.

            In Iraq, the vulnerability of such workers is heightened. Neither the U.S. nor Iraq has an adequate system for protecting their rights, labor advocates say.

            Violence is the greatest risk. At least a third of the 255 contractors reported killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 came from Second or Third World countries, according to a Times analysis of data maintained by a website that tracks contractor deaths.

            http://articles.latimes.com/...

            Brokers and subcontractors from Asia to the Middle East have worked in concert to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries, often employing fraud or coercion along the way, seizing workers' passports and charging recruitment "fees" that make it difficult for workers to escape employment in the war zone.

            U.S. military leaders in Iraq have acknowledged confirming widespread abuses against such workers, who are brought to Iraq to do menial labor on U.S. bases for contractors and subcontractors. Those businesses ultimately receive their checks from the U.S. government. The abuses corroborated by military investigators included violations of U.S. human-trafficking laws.

            http://www.chicagotribune.com/...

          •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shirah, operculum

            Because we believe in the dignity of labor. "Performed cheaper" is the problem, not the solution. If the goal of our society is to get everythinig done for the lowest possible labor cost, slavery, not privatization, is the answer.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:01:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And it is about shared sacrifice (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fcvaguy, rincewind, operculum

          One wonders whether the Iraq war would have been undertaken at all and lasted as long had their been a draft. When it is someone else's war to fight, it's easy to be less concerned.

          To get back to your point, we need to rethink this issue of shared sacrifice, group commitment, and respect for all work and workers and the contributions made on all levels.

          •  So, as a Democrat, (0+ / 0-)

            would you support the Draft?

            Another question, would you agree that potato-peeling in the DOL cafeteria should be outsourced? or better performed by a civil servant?

            •  I do (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shirah

              I'd want some changes in the way it was implemented, but yes, I do support a "national service" draft.

              Does DOL have a cafeteria? If they do, why shouldn't its workers be directly employed by DOL? Do private-sector corps that have on-site cafeterias directly employ those workers or are they contracted "caterers"? (I really don't know, am asking for info)

              IMPEACH "...so that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

              by rincewind on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 12:46:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  As a Democrat (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shirah

              and a veteran, I do support the draft and the DOL kitchen should be staffed by well paid and treated Civil Servants.

              "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

              by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:57:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  There are multiple advantages (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shirah, JohnnySacks

          to having soldiers do the support functions. When an airborne outfit is jumped into a dangerous position, you either have soldiers providing the supporting elements or you do without them. In the 82d Airborne the company mess mobile kitchen jumped with the heavy drop and we got hot chow every day or two. No more, Haliburton's mess hall is centralized and only gets set up somewhere safe. One of the bugle calls you learned in the black boot Army was "Cooks and Bakers" to the line. The last time it sounded was at Bastogne in December of 1944. But if you need it now, you don't have it.

          In the Bocage, the hedge rows behind Normandy, the breakthrough was engineered by a welder in a 3d echelon maintenance shop who invented a plow fixture for the tanks to break through the hedges. In Viet Nam the mechanics on the support ships in the riverine command rebuilt LCVP's into monitors, a whole new class of warcraft. The privatizers lack a fundamental respect for working people, government or otherwise.  

          "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:56:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like they (7+ / 0-)

    are running the DOL the same way the corporate office runs the business line I'm employed at. Outsource to incompetent idiots, triple up the workload on the remaining good people when the idiots can't perform, blame failures on the remaining good people. Finally, claim you're doing a great job by massaging statistics.

    The W ... it stands for Wrong.

    by nosleep4u on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:04:24 AM PST

  •  SUBversion, and thanks for outing it !!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

    by ezdidit on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:04:44 AM PST

  •  Praying the Dems stop the privatization. (12+ / 0-)

    As a public employe I've long seen it was a crock.

    Most public agencies do not have to pay stockholder dividends. Most pay less top to bottom than the private sector. No inflated CEO pay.

    The only way that privatization can be cheaper than public agencies is by the people who change them over allowing the newly privatized jobs to deny more people benefits, if they are that type of job, or by relaxing their work rules and giving them more leeway to cut corners or do their jobs in a different way than public employees are mandated to do.

    In that instance if you gave public employees the same leeway you give the newly privatized jobs they could easily outperform them.

    •  I hope you and others will read the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn

      reports I link to. They have a lot of details. People need to get the detailed information about this issue.

    •  Many of the government contracts (0+ / 0-)

      have fairly strict performance objectives (Service Level Agreements); For example, on a Help Desk, answer the phone within 15 seconds, 1% call abandonment, problems with certain severity levels resolved in a set amount of time, etc. If those objectives are not met, financial penalties are levied, payments are withheld. Does that happen with government employees?

      •  And many call centers have performed so badly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind, Neon Vincent

        they have been de-privatized.

        And, yes, federal employees do have standards and reviews . . . and that something extra - a commitment to their employer's mission. For many public employees the concept of public service is a meaningful concept.

        •  I'd have to disagree with that (0+ / 0-)

          Industry runs thousands of government service desks. I have yet to see a single instance of service desk being in-sourced. However, I've seen many of them terminated and re-competed, or awarded to a different company at the end of contract term.

          And, yes, federal employees do have standards and reviews . . . and that something extra - a commitment to their employer's mission.

          To include witholding of pay checks and financial penalties? Let's be honest. The government has a bigger hammer over contractors than it does with it's own employees.

          For many public employees the concept of public service is a meaningful concept.

          Many contractor employees go to work everyday with that some commitment.

          I want to be clear I'm not here to fight or argue, but this diary is definitely biased in one direction - outsourcing bad, contractors evil. I don't think that is a reality-based conclusion.

          While you are on firm ground with respect to incidences like KBR and Halliburton, there are many companies out there who are in this business who are doing excellent work for the government and the taxpayer.

          •  but would those excellent, committed (6+ / 0-)

            contract employees do an even better job, more efficiently and cost-effectively, as FTE's and without the overhead of contract management and contract corp profits? What is the productivity cost of losing excellent employees every couple years?

            Over the course of 8 years, I worked at a Fed agency -- at the same job, in the same office, at the same desk -- for 3 different contract corps on 5 different contracts. Pay and bennies changed with each new contract, 4 times for the worse. At least 2 of my work products are still in use by that agency more than a decade later (an eternity in IT). I received several commendations from the Fed agency I worked for and was fully committed to my job and to that agency, but they weren't committed to me and my employer corps weren't either. 8 years of job instability and being treated as a second-class employee were all I could take. So who benefited from that?

            IMPEACH "...so that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

            by rincewind on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:03:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  thanks for showing us the (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rincewind, marina, Neon Vincent

              personal side of what the studies show.

              •  another loss we all pay for (5+ / 0-)

                Every time a contract changes hands, there's at least a month lost in the transition. For several weeks before the change-over, all of the existing contract employees have to apply to the new corp (with all the hoop-jumping that entails -- updating resumes, yet another drug test, interviews, yadda yadda) to keep their jobs -- or decide to bail out. The new corp's contract admins are on-site trying to get up to speed on what it is we actually DO. Sometimes the Fed contract managers change, adding another layer of confusion. Then for a few weeks after the transition, everybody's settling into the new regime -- different reporting procedures, forms up the wazoo, insurance choices, 401K's, even stupid shit like getting your new paycheck direct-deposited and new nametags made. Not a big deal for one "new" employee, but multiply that lost month by the total number of contract employees on every contract, every time a contract changes hands.

                IMPEACH "...so that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

                by rincewind on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:46:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              contract employees do an even better job, more efficiently and cost-effectively, as FTE's and without the overhead of contract management and contract corp profits? What is the productivity cost of losing excellent employees every couple years?

              You don't think government employees have overhead? No doubt there are productivity costs when these contracts are re-competed, but that is a decision the government makes when they award they re-award the contract every few years. If they choose not to renew the contract with the same company, then that company either lays off those employees and they get hired by the new company, or they are re-assigned (usually the good ones) to a different contract at a different government agency.

              Over the course of 8 years, I worked at a Fed agency -- at the same job, in the same office, at the same desk -- for 3 different contract corps on 5 different contracts. Pay and bennies changed with each new contract, 4 times for the worse.

              And that sums up what is probably the most significant problem with outsourcing. What you have been through is very common in the business. But, I put the blame entirely on the government and how they put their bids out. Most of the time, there are absolutely no provisions in those bids for wage or benefit requirements. So, oftentimes, a new bidder will underbid the incumbent contractor and cut the salaries and benefits of existing employees. And, what happened to you is the end result. In my experience and opinion, Congress should require that government agencies put strict provisions in their contracts for wages and benefits. And, they should allow government contractor employees the right to unionize, especially IT workers.

              At least 2 of my work products are still in use by that agency more than a decade later (an eternity in IT). I received several commendations from the Fed agency I worked for and was fully committed to my job and to that agency, but they weren't committed to me and my employer corps weren't either.

              I think you're a good example of what I was saying to the diarist. Contractor employees go to work every day with the same sense of loyalty that civil servants do.

              •  couple of points (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shirah, Neon Vincent

                "You don't think government employees have overhead?" -- of course they do. What I'm saying is that the whole premise of contracting requires duplication of all that personnel admin -- the Fed HR costs AND the contract corps' HR costs -- PLUS the additional Fed admin costs of managing the contract -- PLUS the contract corps' profits (and, of course, paying the corps' execs). Every admin/supervisory position is one less biologist or programmer.

                "Contractor employees go to work every day with the same sense of loyalty that civil servants do." Yup, most of us peons did/do (at least until we get utterly burned out with the bullshit). I was proud of the work I did, and naively thrilled to "work for" that agency until I realized that I really didn't work FOR that agency. But do you honestly believe that the contract corp execs give a fuck about the actual mission of the agencies?

                IMPEACH "...so that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

                by rincewind on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 12:19:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  pay and benefits parity (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rincewind, Bob B

              For a number of years now the Circular A-76 process has required that there be parity on wages and benefits, that is, that the saving cannot be based on paying contractor workers less or giving them no or inferior benefits. To do so would not be competing based on higher quality of work or more efficient work processes.

              I forget when this change was made, but I think it has been within the last 5 years.

              It would be interesting to know how the changes you experienced track with the bid the contractors submitted and whether they violated the Circular A-76 requirements in place at the time.

              •  don't know (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shirah, barbwires

                I bailed out at an end-of-contract 11 years ago, when the new corp offered me (and everybody else on our contract) thousands less than we were making, a HUGE hit on medical, and even dicking around with not paying for all fed holidays (when contractors are not allowed to be on-site without a fed supervisor). Fitting, I guess, since I had gotten the job at a start-of-contract to replace a guy who had had enough.....

                IMPEACH "...so that no future president may infer that we have implicitly sanctioned what we have not explicitly condemned." John Conyers, 1974

                by rincewind on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:11:42 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That would be before these changes were made (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rincewind

                  Professor Elliott Sclar is one person, as I recall, who argued for greater accountability.

                  Elliott Sclar: The Economics of Privatization

                  The notion that governments are a prime example of waste and inefficiency, while businesses are cost-effective and productive, has spurred governments to hire private companies to deliver everything from mass transit and mail delivery to secondary education. But privatization has its costs -- both economically and socially. -- Elliott D. Sclar, Professor of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and Director of Urban Planning graduate programs, School of Architecture

                  You can find video of him here.

                  The SF Bay Guardian did a big spread on privatization that included interviews with Sclar in the last year. link

      •  I used to work for the FAA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shirah

        From 1978 to 2006 as a Flight Service Specialist, part of the air traffic system, where by phone and air-to-ground radio we imparted weather-related information to general aviation pilots.

        Despite a 70 year history, the FAA decided that our part of the air traffic system wasn't an inherently governmental job so they sold us to Lockheed-Martin.

        Over the years we eventually became automated which reduced the number of facilities across the country from 316 large to small one to 61 generally same sized facilities. For the most part we got the jobs done. The busiest facilities like Washington, DC, Miami, and Oakland were often backed up because the FAA wouldn't new hire or replace retirements, so they instituted a nationwide 800 number which meant that I, sitting in Indiana, might one day brief a pilot sitting down in Miami. No problem, again we got the job done.

        But, unlike regular air traffic controllers our option never had vocal government advocates for our services so we were sold to the lowest bidder who had no concept of what we actually did. And things have never been the same.

        From 61 working facilities we were reduced to 3 super-stations and a several legacies. At the time of sale there were many who retired to be replaced by newbies with college training, but who still needed to be checked out by experienced specialists which removed them from service until training was over. But the number of new hires weren't equal to the numbers of retirees so under-staffing was still a problem.

        Before, we gave personalized service, altho not without a specific standard of briefing. Now, under Lockheed-Martin it's all about answering the phone. Fifteen seconds? Try less than 10. Personalized service? Nope, each briefing must be like the last whether the pilot wants it like that or not. To add insult to injury, the FAA still looms large over the shoulders of the specialists by demanding that all briefings will be just so or your job is forfeit. Many experienced specialists were fired for the smallest of needless infractions that never would have happened when we were still government.

        At the one facility that I have direct knowledge of people were falling dead, or losing their minds from the pressure. At my facility before we closed we had 10+ air-to-ground outlets that covered the state. The super-stations have the A2G outlets of several states overseen by one, maybe 2 specialists during any one rotation. Phone briefings across several states is one thing, but radio communications where one pilot is in Texas, another in Wisconsin, another in Missouri, etc., and they're all screaming at you at once for, among other things, weather where they are and where they want to be is draining in the extreme.

        But, to end this long post I'll just say that outsourcing isn't always the answer. The same people complaining about our services are still complaining and I suspect that one day Lockheed-Martin will kill the service all together because it really isn't a money-making proposition and in truth L-M has had to pay the FAA because they weren't offering better service than what the FAA provided.

  •  Privatization is lose-lose for employees&taxpaye (13+ / 0-)

    Privatisation disrupts accountability; when a federal employee makes a mistake they can be held accountable by anyone up the line.  When a private contractor fucks up, they aren't accountable to the Federal government in the same way an employee of the Federal government is.

    When the government hires outside corporations to do something, those corporations also want to make a profit, adding to the total cost of the project and/or reducing worker pay and benefits.

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

    by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:09:39 AM PST

  •  I was/am a victim of DOL privatization! (11+ / 0-)

    bastards, when they went to a contracted firm to handle the paperwork for workers comp payments, the firm totally screwed it up.  I had to get my US Senator involved, and still I am paying for their mess.  long story..

    ..to be healed/the broken thing must come apart/then be rejoined.

    by Zacapoet on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:20:32 AM PST

  •  I don't think this statement is accurate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, Neon Vincent

    In the case of the DOL, it turns out that of the work that has been turned over to private contractors, those who do the actual work continue to be government employees - because the contractor is incapable of doing the work.

    From the rules for these A-76 competitions, if the contractor wins, they are required to give the government employees right of first refusal for the contractor positions, and that is why some of them get hired. The report you cite mentions this. The report also shows that not many of the government employees choose to take the contractor positions. This is usually because the salaries and benefits are lower.

  •  Bush made no bones about his intent from start (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rincewind, rhubarb, shirah, barbwires, marina

    and it was appalling that the Dems could not stop him after 9-11, when de-federalizing the various departments was so baldly entirely related to busting the power of the federal emloyees, and when the Dems held power for a time and could have stopped him had we had any discipline.

    His huge conquest began with Bush's suddenly signing on to the concept of an umbrella "homeland security" Department - once he included a gutting of the portion of the new Dept that could remain unionised.

    I say thank god that the additional issues found in reports were problems of accountability and dangers to our security, since otherwise it is entirely possible that the new Republican converts to 'small gov't' might make problems for re-integrating important areas back into the federal workforce.

    Shunpike's Theorem: "apparently, in Spanish, Cheney translates to `Pinochet'"; Puffmeister's Corollary: we - and our constitution - are the newly disappeared.

    by puffmeister on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:56:59 AM PST

  •  Elaine Chao is a public servant the way (7+ / 0-)

    that the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451 was a fireman.

    She has earned herself a special place in hell, doing piecework for six bucks an hour, then needing carpal tunnel surgery but not getting it because she lacks benefits.  And because she is some kind of a quasi supervisor, she gets no overtime, either.  All with the stink of sulfur as a backdrop.

    You won't have Putin's rearing head to kick around anymore.

    by rhubarb on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:02:11 AM PST

  •  This is what this blog is for. Thanks. (6+ / 0-)

    I've been drinking the Elaine Chao haterade for a long time. She's turned labor inside out, using it to prosecute unions instead of protect working people and safeguard benefits, much like the administration has turned the assistant AG for civil rights into a looking-glass version of itself that protects privilege and insulates religious organizations who discriminate and play in politics. Up is down, war is peace, freedom is slavery.

    President-elect Barack Obama.

    by noabsolutes on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:46:23 AM PST

  •  Having worked for a city government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah

    for a time, I'd like to offer a counterpoint argument FOR outsourcing government jobs, at least until the system of "tenure" within government jobs is fixed.

    What's interesting about this diary is that it runs concurrently amid reports of the Bush administration "burrowing" political operatives inside the civil service, positions from which they can continue mischief and never fear being fired.

    Having worked as both a civil servant and as a contractor, I've come to the conclusion that BOTH systems are broken. Contractors don't always take the best route to getting a job done (they don't think long-term) and civil servants who can't be fired have little motivation to NOT make mistakes.

    Something about the whole system needs to be reviewed and, possible, revamped, if we are to really get our money's worth as taxpayers.

    •  You always need accountability (6+ / 0-)

      There is nothing inherent in private or public that means things will function well on their own. The type of accountability for private and public sectors differs, but you need oversight and accountability for both.

      •  Accountability is nice BUT (0+ / 0-)

        if I'm a manager without the ability to fire and hire who I like then it does me no fucking good.

        •  Hiring and firing can be a form of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rincewind, marina

          accountability.

          Part of accountability in the private sector is losing out to the competition. Knowing that is possible should discipline a private company to do its best to attract and keep good workers.

          However, are you saying you want to hire or fire for no purpose or because there is a reason to do so? If that's the case, I guess there would be no real accountability even though you would be in the private sector. Though if you fired good workers, you might well be the company that loses out to those that hire and keep good workers.

        •  The power to hire and fire (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shirah

          should not be arbitrary. Employment at will is inherently unjust. There should be a process in which you give the employee a fair hearing and an impartial judgment of inadequacy before dismissal. That's really all the Civil Service rules are designed for. Every union contract has the same limitations. It is only the aristos who demand unaccountable power.

          "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

          by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 05:21:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The privatization of education is a scam (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rincewind, shirah, barbwires, marina, Bob B, fhcec

    and a waste of precious funds. Schools that don't make the target test scores are required to spend at least 20% of their federal Title I funds on choice and tutoring services. This is nothing more than a scam to get federal money into the pockets of private or faith-based organizations. Most anyone can be a provider, and there are no requirements that they show success with the students. They charge up to $90/hour to tutor one student! The school districts are not allowed to determine who does the work, the required outcomes, or the rates of pay. They just have to fork out the cash. One the one hand, the Dept of Ed says states can set standards, but as soon as one of the big providers complains that they are not getting the contracts the feds come down hard on the states and school districts and make still more demands. The providers' entanglements with the regulatory agency is criminal.

    Still more money is siphoned off for "consultants." Schools that don't make the test scores are also required to hire consultants -- generally at $50,000 a crack -- for a one-week visit to diagnose and prescribe fixes. The only requirement is that the firm use research-based practices, whatever that is. If the fix doesn't improve test scores then the school is in for still more sanctions. The consultants bear no responsibility.

    Education, through No Child Left Behind, is a money maker for the privates and a nightmare for schools. It is just one more instance where federal money is intended to line the pockets of the campaign donors.

  •  Where people aim to profit handsomely, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, marina

    there will be no savings.

  •  Privatization was NEVER about protecting workers (6+ / 0-)

    or saving money..it was about the theft of the National Treasury....period..a legal way to bankrupt and steal the nation blind..it took about thirty years...after all we were a very wealthy nation...but from Ronnie on, all the Presidents made that theft legal (by and for) the wealthiest Corporations, Wall Street Executives, Bankers, even the "career" politicians got very wealthy, (no wonder they speak of Ronnie like he was patron saint..to them he was, the patron saint of wealth and greed)..thirty years of out sourcing the manufacturing jobs, stagnant and lower wages, busting unions, higher health and medical costs, inflation..all while stealing the taxpayers blind and blaming it on labor ..(lying through their teeth about union (UAW) wages and benefits)

    •  I just watched the Senate Committee (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shirah, marina

      Domestic Automobile Industry, CEO Panel
      Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
      from Tuesday 11/18/2008 on C-span.

      This guy's sole purpose for being there was to bash the union:
      Morici, Peter Professor, University of Maryland, International Business

      According to him, who got to speak more than anyone, and who even talked when it was other people's turn, (isn't that a no, no?) it's all the union's fault and they will continue to be the cause of the problems until they are crushed and ended so capitalism can reign.

      Think I'm exaggerating? Watch it.

  •  Who could trust these morons (0+ / 0-)

    to accurately report unemployment, no wonder some projections are off 100k.

  •  Privatization (6+ / 0-)

    , deregulation and free trade are all the heads of the same 3-headed serpent.  Deregulation has caused all the losses almost everyone has experienced in their 401k and now in massive job losses.  Free trade, as they call it, has caused the losses of our actual wealth producing sector of the economy..manufacturing.  And privatization is and will destroy accountability to the public for everything hidden by proprietary and intellectual property laws and vastly increased costs for all things formerly overseen by government.  

    Argentina is a classic example of the end result.

    After 8 years of darkness, a great nation chose to reapply power to the beacon of light America stands for.

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 11:16:46 AM PST

  •  The GAO obviously hates capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, marina

    One of the things we need to realize about the privatization crowd is that they're dogmatists. They want what they think is right, and whether it works or not doesn't enter into their thinking at all. They weren't motivated by evidence when they first thought up their lunacy, and evidence that their ideas can't help but fail will not convince them. If anything, they'll attack the GAO's findings as liberally biased and agenda-driven.

    Privatizing Social Security is intended solely to generate billions in fees for stock traders and investment firms.

  •  Whadya expect from Mitch McConnell's wife? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, Bob B, operculum

    Crooks, the lot of em.

  •  One (0+ / 0-)

    of the items not mentioned, but is important to the discussion, is employee motive. The job when outsourced is strictly about profit. The job done by a government employee is about the consumer.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 02:38:18 PM PST

  •  Government more inefficient than corporations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah

    This is one part where conservatives get it right. You're always working for a board or an appointed political person or some other nonsense in government. Therefore it costs a bit more to do stuff than it would if a for profit corporation was doing it.

    Bureaucracies are just not going to be as efficient as the private sector at providing services whether its building planes, laying down roads or even being a customer...

    Oh shit. That's what Republicans don't realize. There are places for privatization but by and large the government is horrible at administrating and overseeing contracts. The only thing you end up doing is putting another layer of waste on an already inefficient system and get no better results.

    •  Theory but what is the reality? (0+ / 0-)

      There are reasons why some work is in the public sector - because the private sector failed miserably at doing it. Public sector provides well when there is no market and when there are public goods, services with positive externalities.

  •  In this conversation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah

    one needs to remember the primary tenets of modern conservatism:

    Money is bad for poor people, it morally degrades them.
    Money is good for rich people, it enobles them.

    similarly:

    Responsibility is good for poor people, it disciplines them
    Responsibility is bad for rich people, it limits them.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 05:26:01 PM PST

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