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Is GovCon Doing Too Much Inherently Governmental Work?

Concerns have been raised of late that GovCon has become too involved in work that ethically should be conducted by the government.  Who’s fault is that? – And what can be done to strike and optimum balance?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates plans to expand the workforce to support the demand for job that end up being sent out to contractors.

“In contracting, we’re going to convert 10,000 acquisition jobs to permanent civil servants who belong to the Department of Defense, and are only looking out for the Department of Defense and not their home company,” said Gates.  “Then we will add another 10,000 civil servants to that.”

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) feels that the issue stems from lesser pay in the federal sector.

“I think that there needs to be more flexibility in terms of compensation for government personnel particularly in the Pentagon’s principle areas of responsibility,” said Moran.  “The personnel system that was established has merit.  I think it needs to be refined but I think we will move forward on it because we have seen that we have lost much too high a quantity and some of the best quality people to the private sector because federal salaries have not been competitive.”

Congressman Jerry Connolly (D-Va.) told ExecutiveBiz in 2009, that while the workforce supporting acquisition management raised 9% between 2000 and 2007, the value of contracts raised 149%.  He views government’s recruitment and retention policies as a possible source for the discrepancy.

“We have a very substantial brain drain going on in the federal government because the private sector can appear more lucrative and more attractive,” said Connolly.  “We’ve got to look at the conditions within the workforce and try to make acquisition jobs more attractive. We must work awfully hard to make sure that the working conditions are such that we can retain those people because the private sector also is pursuing acquisition personnel who are skilled and capable of managing large and complex contracts, and they don’t want to do that for the government.”

Gates concluded that more must be done on the government’s end to solve the problem: “We need (GovCon),” said Gates. “We have an important partnership…but we kind of let it get out of control, in my view.  I think we’re beginning to get our arms around the problem by making better choices about what’s done by people in uniform, what’s done by career civil servants and what’s done by contractors.”

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