Too Many Contractors
Too Many Contractors
Steve Kelman has beautifully highlighted the problem of having an excessive number of contractors in the ‘Information Technology’ sector of the federal government. In his article “Kelman: Too Many Contractors?” (2007), he has identified the underpinning reason for the campaign to reduce the contracted workers to be the salary structure. There lie significant differences in the approaches of the federal and private sectors in the field of IT. In the federal sector, the technical and complex work is kept for the in-house workers while the easier work is contracted. Moreover, the salaries given to the in-house workers are also far less than the work expected from them. On the contrary, in the private firms, the technical work is contracted to specialist firms and paid in agreement with the intricacy of the job. Nevertheless, the federal government is taking an initiative to reduce the number of IT services contractors in the wake of implementing the policy of cost cutting. However, several factors need to be considered for the efficient execution of this initiative.
The foremost concern of the federal government in the recent years has been cost cutting. The Obama government took important steps to reduce the federal expenses by decreasing the spending on the contractual hiring. It is estimated that almost 12% increase every year was seen in the expenditures on contracts by the federal government from 2000 to 2008 (Moorhead, 2012). The efforts by the Obama administration resulted in the decline of contract spending in 2010 by an estimated 15 billion dollars (Moorhead, 2012). It was the first time in 13 years that contract spending was subjected to reduction (Brodsky, 2011). The agencies went on terminating the contracts of inefficient contractors in the field of Information Technology to support cost cutting (Werfel, 2012). Steve Kelman expressed his concern on this issue a couple of years back than the initiatives of the Obama’s administration. However, the ground he mentioned for the strategy of reducing the number of contractors was the major driving force behind this step but not the only reason.
The salary structure in the federal government must be redesigned to support the retention of well-trained and qualified employees and attract the potential talented workers. The facilities imparted to the employees in the private sector are drawing the bright employees to work for them. The federal government aims to reduce the IT services contractors and support the cost-cutting initiative. Simultaneously, the primary focus of the government is to hire the qualified staff to replace them, which is a bit contradictory in terms of cost cutting. The first thing that needs to be done is the proper designation of jobs. There are several duties that are very technical and are assigned to the in-house staff. The in-house team is unable to execute the duties well, which is adding on to the problem. The need of the hour is to draw a fine line between the duties to be contracted and the functions that are to be assigned to the in-house workers. Once the proper management of assigning the tasks is implemented, the reduction in federal contracts will become easier, as the incompetent employees and contractors will be identified.
The United States of America has almost 3.7 million contract workers that are much more than the civilian and military personnel on duty (Long, 2017). A considerable number of these contractors are rendering IT services to the government, while the other major fields are administration, engineering, and health. The newly elected President, Donald Trump, has prioritized the down-sizing of contractors and employees in his working agenda to support cost cutting.
Procurement contests can also be a helpful tool to encourage the innovation and save the cost (Kelman, 2011). In such approaches, the federal government will only have to pay the successful contractors. In this way, the necessary contracts will be recognized and by focusing on them only, the productivities can be enhanced. It will also allow the government to save a lot of money and invest it in hiring the competent employees to replace the contractors. The apprehensions indicated by Steve Kelman hold right as it is hard to remove a federal employee despite his inability to perform than a contracted employee. Many federal government employees have taken their job safety as a cover to waste time and enjoy their job without properly working on the designated task. This concept needs to be altered as it demotivates the employees that realize the importance of work to retain their jobs and ultimately results in overall reduction of performance of the department. IT department needs to hire people with sound technical background and a desire to succeed so that the innovations can be encouraged.
The steps taken by the Obama administration are commendable for reducing the federal contracts in all the disciplines of work and saving the overall costs. The task to terminate the incapable contractors and employees remains a significant challenge for the Trump government to revolutionize all the fields, especially IT. The need of the hour is to improve the management and hiring systems. The antiquated federal government hiring process should be reformed to support the recruitment of talented and passionate individuals. The right duties to be contracted must be underlined, and procurement contests should be implemented. It might lead to fewer contracts for the contractors but the right contracts for the deserving contractors. In this way, a better output than the past can be expected with reduced costs and innovation can be incorporated in all disciplines of the system.