A Horror

That's what New York University professor Paul Light says is the best word to describe what life has been like for many federal employees.

In case you missed his column, take a look here.

The numbers are compelling. Just seeing them again make us heave a sigh of uncertainty.

"The Bush administration, however, decided that the best way to reform government was to outsource it," he wrote in a column for the Post. "From 2001 to 2005, civilian employment remained at 1.8 million, more or less, while the estimated number of contractor jobs surged from 4.4 million to 7.6 million."

As others have noted, the federal government that President-elect Obama inherits is in a bad way. We'll save the speech about the contracting workforce for another time. We'll also bypass some other matters. Government Inc. will revisit those and other issues. For now, let's focus on this line from Light, which will mean a lot when it comes to making the use of contractors work.

"The impact of the criticism and outsourcing are unmistakable in survey after survey of federal employees. Morale is down, while complaints about the lack of resources are up. Most federal employees rate their middle- and upper-level managers as mediocre at best and not improving. The frustration cuts across every agency. The vast majority of federal employees want to make a difference for their communities and country but report shortages in virtually every resource needed to succeed, not the least of which is enough employees to enforce the laws."

As contractors themselves note, it takes a good, motivated government workforce to get the most out of their private-sector partners.

By Robert O'Harrow |  November 26, 2008; 11:30 AM ET Contract workers
Previous: Obama Miffed; Approach To TSA Contract Misguided | Next: Time Means Money


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I am a strong supporter of using public employees to run my government. We have been spun the failed Republican free market ideology for over a decade that government is a business and should be run like a business. Now we must make sure that democrats do not follow this same failed ideology and that they get rid of government contractors. Government must be run for the public good and as a protector of the health and safety of citizens in our society. The constitution gives certain mandates to government that has nothing to do with business.
Also, we can not afford the billions of dollars in fraud being committed by these contractors. Running govt. as a business and corporate slush fund has bankrupt all levels of our government.
I hope that all public employees will immediately have their families and friends
call their local and U.S. politicians demanding that public jobs go to our citizens who are college graduates and skilled IT citizens.
We the people must replace this non-constitutional free market based, corporate run, government with a constitutional republic of, by, and for the people. Save the Republic-keep government public.

Posted by: teddi_ohio | November 26, 2008 5:46 PM

what I support is to get the best quality, efficiency, and value for the dollar. Whether it comes from a public or private workforce. The taxpayer deserve no less.
I have 27 years of federal service, and 20 years of private industry experience. there are good and bad on both sides of the fence. But service to the taxpayer is the most important.
Federal hiring practices need to be abolished and measures to rid the government of poor performers, need to be implemented. We are getting to have a wealth of great talent on the outside of the govt. and we need to take advantage of it.

Posted by: scholls3 | December 2, 2008 8:31 PM

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