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Eye Opener: Group warns of cutting DHS contractors

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! A contractor industry group has warned that the Department of Homeland Security should closely study the size and scope of its contracting jobs before it "insources" positions to the federal payroll.

DHS officials are reviewing its mix of private and public-sector workers after announcing last month that the department employs at least 12,000 more contractors than federal workers.

The Professional Services Council, which represents roughly 300 government contracting companies, said in a letter sent Tuesday to lawmakers and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that DHS should avoid establishing quotas for insourcing.

“Insourcing solely for the sake of insourcing or on the basis of arbitrary quotas will have a negative impact on meeting critical mission challenges and increase, not reduce, costs to the taxpayer,” PSC President Stan Soloway said.

The warning comes as contracting firms grow nervous about the Obama administration's planned contracting reforms that include cutting high risk, sole-source deals and issuing new guidance on the tasks and services that only government employees can perform.

The administration's contracting reforms could spell the end of lucrative contracting deals of all sizes. Witness Northrup Grumman admission earlier this week that the Pentagon's new emphasis on fixed price contracts was part of the reason they dropped their bid for the multibillion dollar air tanker deal.

Keep close watch in the coming months as DHS and the White House try to strike a balance between business and taxpayer interests. Take it too far in one direction and the administration could either get tagged for fostering an unfriendly business environment or not caring enough to cut government waste.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Question of the Week: In the wake of last week's Pentagon shooting, if you're a federal worker, do you feel safe at your place of work? If you're not a federal worker, do you feel that nearby federal facilities are well protected? Send your responses to federaleye@washingtonpost.com and please include your full name, hometown, the agency for which you work. Your thoughts may be used in Friday's Washington Post.

More Obama Nominees Announced: On Tuesday the president tapped Mimi E. Alemayehou to serve as executive vice president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Elizabeth McGrath as deputy chief Management officer at the Defense Department. Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count.

Cabinet and Staff News: Vice President Biden slams the new Israeli settlement plan. In Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates tours a broken, abandoned market that has come to symbolize progress. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the Austin IRS plane crash wasn't domestic terrorism. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled Tuesday to Brazil for meetings with officials there. Former White House aides and Cabinet secretaries named to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. A former Clinton aide looks to death row to aid her defense. The Clinton-era Filegate is over.

CENSUS BUREAU:
Some Muslims, fearing backlash, worry about intent of Census form: The idea of answering any questions posed by the government makes some Muslims uneasy, so community leaders are worried that many may avoid the Census altogether.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Hospital ship USNS Comfort sailing home from Haiti: The ship's departure brings to a close a dramatic naval mission launched three days after the massive earthquake.

FCC:
U.S. considers some free wireless broadband service: The agency provided few details about how it would carry out such a plan and who would qualify, but will make a recommendation under the National Broadband Plan set for release next week.

FDA:
Basic food sold additive after salmonella found, FDA says: The agency says the Las Vegas company at the center of a recall of more than 100 food products, continued to make and distribute food ingredients for about a month after it learned the bacteria salmonella was present at its processing facility.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
ID card for workers is at center of immigration plan: The ID card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:
Prosecutors reveal terrorism charges against 'Jihad Jane': Colleen R. LaRose, a U.S. citizen who used the nicknames "Fatima LaRose" and "Jihad Jane," has been in custody for months while the FBI and Justice Department pursued leads in the investigation.

Budget request for Thomson prison doesn’t mention terrorists: Instead, the Bureau of Prisons’ request seeks $170 million to buy and renovate the prison because of inmate crowding conditions at high security facilities.

NASA:
Criticism mounts against Obama's plans to change NASA strategy: Harrison Schmitt's credentials as a space policy analyst include several days of walking on the moon. The Apollo 17 astronaut, who is also a former U.S. senator, is aghast at what the president is doing to the space program.

Former head of Johnson Space Center dies in Texas: Aaron Cohen was at the helm when shuttle flights resumed after the Challenger disaster and continued to lead the center until 1993.

SEC:
Federal regulators debunk rumors of short-selling ban: Federal regulators shot down rumors in the financial markets they were planning to ban short selling of stocks in which the government has a stake.

U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE:
Mexico tops list of trade issues facing White House: The Obama Administration's top trade negotiator said the U.S. was working quickly to resolve a damaging trade spat with Mexico, one of several obstacles to the president's goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:
VA to automate its Agent Orange claims process: It the department's first effort at automating claims processing in its 80-year history and comes as the agency struggles to cut a backlog of more than 1 million disability claims, appeals and other cases.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | March 10, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Contracting, Eye Opener  
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Next: Peter Orszag defends federal salaries

Comments

if american's were smart, they would DEMAND that congress put the government back the way it was PRE-9/11.

this homeland security stuff is a very costly farce.

joe lieberman used the HLS concept to bait george bush and his cronies into violating their "anti-big-government principle" --

and guess what...

they were so freaking stupid they took the bait --

and then the republican congress put it on steroids.

all they had to do was maybe a little tweaking...

combine INS with Boarder Enforcement, and the DEA and ATF into a single organization under the FBI

those two tweaks would have been sufficient...

instead...they combed the federal ranks (especially DoD) for all their government DEAD WOOD... you know the people who got hired and continue to stay on when their really isn't anything for them to manage or do...

you know the "swingline-stapler-guy milton" and the doofus manager "lumbergh" in the movie "office space"

come on, almost every organization has a few of these knuckleheads running around..

well, these are the people who were initially rounded up to start-up the homeland security department under tom ridge.

come on, you have to remember the five colored "stop light" (then scaled back to four colors) their first initiative after squandering a few billion dollars in startup money.

put humpty dumpty back together again!!!

Posted by: FranknErnest | March 10, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

What a surprise! The porkers at the trough object to a reduced slop stream.

The Professional Services Council doesn't give a darn about how safe your country is. They are in business for one reason only; to keep taxpayer money flowing to their overpaid, underworked members. And by "members," I do not mean government contract workers, I mean government contract business owners. Those overpaid shysters whose profit margin is made by writing a fancy proposal, and then delivering as little of the services promised as possible, in a game of brinksmanship to see just how far they can push the envelope before the word "default" is mentioned.

Posted by: gasmonkey | March 10, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

These contractors have been ripping the us government off right after 9/11 - they didn't have to wait for DHS to be formally stood up. Frankly, even though I have been a government employee for ten years, I do feel like I am working for the contractors because I get mandated to do things that make their programs and initiatives look good when we could be doing the same things a lot cheaper.

Posted by: gwtfo | March 10, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Spare me the crocodile tears from the so-called "Professional Services Council." I didn't see them protesting when the previous administration enforced quotas to outsource federal jobs, including turning over personal IRS data to private debt collectors, at a huge cost to the federal government. gasmonkey above hit the nail right on the head.

Posted by: AdventurerVA | March 10, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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