Some Contractors Not Getting Rich
Many contractors hired by the federal government are poorly paid and poorly treated. Far from being the big ticket Beltway Bandits that get so much attention -- the consultants et al that make so much more per week than civil servants -- these workers must do the government's scut work.
That's according to a new report by the Democrat-leaning Center For American Progress Action Fund. (Yes, that's the group run by President-elect Barack Obama's transition chairman John Podesta.)
Though the report has a partisan flavor, it also has some very interesting facts.
"An estimated 80 percent of the 5.4 million federally contracted service workers are low-wage earners," says an overview by authors David Madland and Michael Paarlberg. "Contracted workers are often excluded from prevailing-wage law protections and, for many jobs, the minimum prevailing wage allowed is below a living wage. And contractors often violate labor laws."
The authors also assert:
"Companies that violate laws designed to protect workers are among the most wasteful of taxpayer funds, and contracted workers are often paid far less than taxpayers are charged."
In a story in The Post, Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson writes this:
"If you think of well-paid, highly skilled people like brainy engineers at Lockheed Martin or tough Blackwater gunmen in Iraq when you hear the phrase 'government contractors,' think again.
"Many contractors do grunt work and don't get paid much for it, says a report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. These people wash laundry, drive buses and dish food. They are rent-a-cops, janitors and laborers. They have titles of waiter, cook and cashier."
He checks in with Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, which represents contractors.
Soloway believes there are "'valuable recommendations that could help improve federal contracting.'"
"But he's not happy with the report's tone and some of its data. Soloway doubts, for example, the 80 percent figure because, he said, professional services is the largest contracting category. Information technology and research and development work, gigs not populated by the poorly paid, also are big categories, he said. He also noted that the Service Contract Act requires employers to pay wages and benefits that are not less than those in the local market."
By Robert O'Harrow |
December 10, 2008; 1:58 PM ET
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