A new report reveals how the Trump administration is pushing the outsourcing of federal jobs to unaccountable private temp agencies, raising new concerns about accountability and quality of work especially in military and veterans’ privatized health care.
The report released June 19 by the National Employment Law Project reveals that spending on temporary service contracts more than doubled since President Trump took office, from $812 million in 2016 to $1.7 billion in 2018.
Nearly half of this outsourced work was for government-provided health care, including at the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.
The authors of the report noted that the term “temporary service contracts” is misleading because many of the positions outsourced to these temp agencies are not short-term.
“The data suggests that, rather than decreasing the size of government as Republican administrations frequently claim they will do, the Trump administration and its allies in Congress are merely outsourcing government work to temporary staffing agencies, which degrades the quality of those jobs and reduces accountability over the quality of that work,” the authors wrote. “It also takes the delivery of traditionally public interest services—such as social insurance programs—from non-profit government agencies and places them with private for-profit entities, which too often means that making money, not delivering quality services, is the paramount goal.”
The authors also raised concerns about the quality of services provided to the public by these temporary agencies.
“By increasingly relying on temporary workers to perform critical public services, federal agencies are losing out on the increased skill and efficiency that come with longtime experience on the job. Furthermore, those workers with a desire for public service who are motivated by a commitment to their communities and their country are not able to put those values to practice in direct federal employment.
All these findings confirmed what our union has been saying all along.
“Outsourcing federal jobs to contractors, particularly those that exploit workers by offering only temporary assignments, results in higher costs, less accountability, and lower quality,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “Rather than hiring full-time, career federal workers to care for our veterans and treat our service members, the Trump administration is outsourcing that work to costly and unaccountable temp agencies as part of an insidious plan to privatize health care.”
While the administration is pushing that work to these temporary staffing agencies, the number of vacancies inside the VA climbed to over 50,000. The same is true at the Defense Health Agency, where the administration issued a $7.5 billion contract to outsource health care for active-duty service members instead of hiring career professionals.
“Every man and woman who has worn the uniform in service of our country should be appalled by this administration’s intention to undermine, and eventually dismantle, the VA through privatization,” Cox added. “The government has a sacred obligation to look after those who defend our country, and outsourcing their health care to unaccountable temp agencies is an insult to their service.”