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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: Government work

  • Are private contractors really more efficient than government workers?
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  • Republicans for many years have demonized government employees as overpaid and inefficient and supported outsourcing government work to private sector contractors who Republicans said would do the work more efficiently and for less money.
    The poor workmanship of 47 private sector contractors in setting up a web site where people could buy health insurance has been the dominant news story for several weeks.
    Some of those contractors and amounts paid --Deloitte Consultants $12,921,093.80, SERCO $68,339,812.00. For a complete list and amounts paid each go to Google and type in "Contractors working on ACA."
    29 of these 47 contractors and their employees contributed $32 million to federal candidates and political parties. Some of the 47 contractors with amounts of their political contributions are Quality Software Services, $3,609,103, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, $3,456,523, University of California (SF) $3,363,813.00, Verizon Business Network Services, $4,167,997.00, and General Dynamics, $2,403,354.00.
    Democrats and Republicans agree the web site these 47 contractors set up is not a workable web site.
    Republicans have not blamed any of these 47 contractors for the shoddy work they did in setting up this web page or conducted or demanded a congressional investigation of the matter.
    Examples where contractors did not perform government work in an acceptable manner:
    Combat troops in Iraq were placed on food rations because contractors refused to take supplies into combat zones.
    Contractors wasted or lost due to fraud $12 million dollars a day in Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of $60 billion since 2001 according to a report of the Wartime Contracting Commission.
    USIS corporation conducted background security checks on Edward Snowden and Aaron Alex and gave them secret clearance.
    The 100 year old 5,500 room Walter Reed Army Medical Center was closed in 2011 due to rodent and cockroach infestation, stained carpets, cheap mattresses, mold and other signs of deplorable neglect found during the time private sector contractor IAP collected $120 million to manage and operate Walter Reed.
    The number of private federal contractors has soared to 7.5 million, four times bigger than the federal civilian work force. There are so many contractors doing government work some refer to them as the "fourth branch of government."
    In Iraq there were 180,000 contractors, more than the number of U.S troops.
    During the G. W. Bush administration the amount of taxpayer dollars paid to contractors to do government work almost doubled -- $540.8 billion in 2007 the largest amount spent in any year in U.S. history.
    In 2010 70% of the U.S. budget for intelligence was paid to 1,931 private contractors whose employees worked on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence at 10,000 locations across the country.
    A study by the non partisan Project on Government Oversight found government contractors paid their employees on average $76,000.00 compared to $57,000.00 paid to government employees doing the same work. Hiring government workers would be less expensive than hiring contractors in 33 of the 35 government occupations studied.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ten of the largest contracts awarded to private sector contractors by the Bush administration during the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were awarded without competitive bids, to contractors who employed former high ranking government officials, or who had close ties to members of Congress. These 10 contractors contributed $12.7 million to Republican politicians
    Halliburton, headed by Dick Cheney before becoming Vice-President, collected 5 times more money than any other government contractor for work in Iraq--$39.5 billion
    In summary history shows the quality of government work performed by contractors frequently is of poor quality and cost more than government employees doing the same work. Contracts for government work are awarded to former high ranking government officials or people close to members of congress without competitive bids. Million dollar government contracts follow million dollar contributions to politicians and political parties.
    The amount paid to contractors to protect us against terrorists in 2005 was $42 billion and had more than doubled from what it was in 1995.
    Do you rest better knowing 70% of Homeland Security's budget is paid to hundreds of contractors like USIS to protect you against terrorists? Do you feel secure knowing contractors like USIS, who approved Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis for secret clearance, performs two thirds of all background security checks for contractors and federal employees?
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes each week to the editorial pages of The Sun-Times)

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