How Many Government Contractors Are Working at DoD, Anyway?

Categories: DoD

The Department of Defense is making some modest progress on completing and making use of its service contract database, thanks to years of effort by AFGE which demanded that DoD ascertain the actual cost and size of its contractor workforce to get service contract costs under control.

In response to a recent letter AFGE sent to DoD inquiring about the status of the department’s statutorily required inventory of service contracts, DoD said contractors are increasingly using the DoD-developed manpower reporting software to provide the required data. The department has also made significant progress on its effort to centralize data on a single platform to standardize the reporting process.

“We have every expectation that, over time, DoD components will rely on this data in greater measure in making informed decisions with respect to the size and shape of the total force of military, civilian, and contracted support necessary to achieve their missions,” Stephanie Barna, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), wrote to AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.

AFGE thanks Ms. Barna for the update and welcomes the modest progress, which is more important now than ever as DoD components are imposing cuts on the civilian workforce in favor of more expensive contractors and military personnel.

Contract inventories are important as DoD spends two times more on service contracts than on civilian employees, with service contract costs having more than doubled during the last ten years.

But DoD still can't identify and control its spending on service contracts because it has yet to fully compile an inventory of its service contracts that is integrated into the budget, despite having been required to do just that since 2008. The delay is caused by opposition from contractors and their allies in the acquisition community.

Getting DoD components to collect data also has been a challenge as some years, not all components comply, and when they do, they use different methodologies. Even today, not all components are complying with the law requiring annual inventories of service contracts. 

AFGE will continue to push for full implementation of the inventory. Besides the estimates of the number of contractor employees in components, the inventory also provides information on specific service contracts, which may be helpful to AFGE locals and councils in mapping the relevant contractor workforces. 

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