Monday, April 6, 2009

Barack Obama's Staff Infection

Federal employee unions hate the idea of outsourcing "government work" to the private sector, so Barack Obama, slave that he is to unions, has signed executive orders bringing more of those jobs "in house." How this will increase efficiency or cut costs or improve performance is a mystery, since it's universally recognized that the private sector does just about everything better than the public sector can. But this is a political payoff, disguised as a government reform effort, so stop trying to make it make sense.

In Obama Nation, the impossible becomes the unstoppable. In Obama Nation, a bigger federal bureaucracy will be a better federal bureaucracy. In Obama Nation, the public sector leads and the private sector follows. The laws of gravity are suspended. The sun rises in the west and sets in the east. And the Pentagon will run a tighter ship by firing all the private contractors and growing its bureaucracy by 30,000.

In the first major federal hiring binge since Obama effectively put an end to outsourcing, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced today that he would be adding 30,000 new pentacrats in the next 5 years, in an effort to improve the department's weapons acquisition programs. Reports

"Among the most far-reaching changes [Gates] recommended were reducing the number of support service contractors from the current level of 39 percent of the workforce to the pre-2001 level of 26 percent and replacing them with full-time government employees.

"Our goal is to hire as many as 13,000 new civil servants in 2010 to replace contractors and up to 30,000 new civil servants in place of contractors over the next five years," Gates said.
In addition, he said the department would increase the size of the defense acquisition workforce, converting 11,000 contractors and hiring an additional 9,000 government acquisition professionals by 2015, beginning with 4,100 in 2010.

Bringing back in-house more support work and expanding the acquisition workforce are essential to restoring accountability to the procurement process, Gates said."

And he said it with a straight face, as far as I can tell.

I'm no expert on weapon procurement. But I've seen and read enough to understand that the Pentagon's "system" for developing and buying weapons is scandalously dysfunctional. Gates is taking a positive step by seeking the cancellation of some programs -- including the VH-71 presidential helicopter program, which is building 23 helicopters (to service 1 president) for an astounding $6.5 billion -- and the restructuring of others (assuming Congress doesn't countermand him).

But implicitly blaming this all on private contractors, by bringing more of those responsibilities "in house," is not just unfair but insane, since an honest appraisal of the problem would undoubtedly point back to poor contractor oversight by the Pentagon itself. Expecting better results by adding more federal bureaucrats is like trying to drink yourself sober.

But this is just the beginning of the bureaucratic bloat to come under Obama. Brace yourselves for the Oprahfication of every other federal agency as well.

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