As originally appeared at Baldwin Park Democrat
President Obama will ask his Agency and Department heads to propose cuts in spending. One good place for each Agency and Department to start looking is the number of contracts which they administer and the number of civilian contractors which they employ.
Government contractors began to proliferate during past calls for downsizing government. Government officials publicly eliminated Federal Civil Service jobs and quietly moved the work over to contractors, while still growing government. Congress and the various Administrations (it happens in all Administrations, regardless of Party) could then claim that they have reduced the overall number of Civil Service Full Time Equivalents (FTE - the number of Civil Service employees) and thus the size of the Federal Government.
Of course, that is all smoke and mirrors. The size of the Federal Government has steadily grown, year after year, regardless of Administration, and regardless of claims to the contary. The total size of the Federal Government must realistically include all personnel paid from the public coffers and that must include contractor personnel. The cost to pay these civilian contractors is in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Government contractors are an insidious lot. Once they get a foothold into a government office they slowly but surely begin the process of growing their contract. That is their end goal. Grow the contract and make more money for the company. And the contracting community is unbelievably good at doing just that.
There are definitely government contracts that serve a valid purpose. At least they start off that way. But the problem is that an initial contract, however small or valid, gives entry into the system. From inside the system these contractors help to create new work that requires more people which equates to more contractors. It happens every day in government. No government Agency or Department is immune to this practice. It is truly the nature of the beast.
The Administration and Congress need to take a long and hard look at government contracts and how they are administered and particularly how they are grown. They need to come up with a way to deal with the self-proliferation engaged in by virtually every contractor dealing with the Federal Government. If they can do that, then it is possible that we will see significant budget cuts. If they don't, then government will just continue to grow and grow and grow.