November 25th, 2008 @ 3:00 am
The Department of Homeland Security awarded Lockheed Martin an eight year, $1 Billion plus contract to manage the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) human resources. Now Federal Computer Weekly reports that President-elect Obama wrote a letter to the Association of Federal Government Employees (AFGE) union that the award should not have been done. The union believed that the work should be done by existing Federal workers rather then contracted out, although the contract with Lockheed replaced three existing ones. One of the losing bidders did protest to the GAO, but that was turned down for jurisdiction reasons.
Obama has made it clear that he supports the unions representing Federal workers efforts to limit contracting and expand their role. The last twenty years have seen an explosion of contracts for work that in the past was done by Federal workers. At the same time there has been, especially in the Defense Department, a reduction of civil servants. People are very expensive in pay and benefits and the argument for contracting is that it is cheaper in the long run as the cost of the person is born by the contractor. Also Federal hiring practices can be long and difficult and this makes it easier to give the work to contractors then expand the government workforce. I am sure that this will be a major issue over the lifetime of the Obama Administration.