WASHINGTON There they go again. The usual suspects are scheming to spare their big defense contractor friends from the impact of sequestration by arbitrarily slashing federal employee jobs.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe, along with other like-minded lawmakers, have announced their intention to re-launch legislation left over from the previous Congress that would offset the initial impact of sequestration on the Department of Defense by arbitrarily cutting the federal workforce.
Last years Senate bill (S. 2065) would have reduced the federal workforce by 5% and extended a pay freeze for federal employees for an additional year, while the previous House bill (H.R. 3662) would have slashed the federal workforce by 10%.
Federal employees have already contributed $103 billion toward deficit reduction, including lost and delayed compensation. And this does not even include growing job losses inflicted by severe budgetary austerity. Yet McKeon, Inhofe and their ilk continue to treat federal employees and their families like an ATM. And despite clear evidence that austerity is crippling the economy, they continue to target useful jobs for working and middle class Americans.
No workload analysis was conducted to determine why the number of federal civil servants should be reduced by the amount required under this proposed legislation. Similarly, no tough decisions are made to identify services that agencies should downsize or eliminate after significant numbers of civil servants have been reduced. As history shows, in order to continue to fulfill their statutory mandates to perform services, agencies will simply contract out to get the work done, even when it costs more or the work is too important or sensitive to privatize.
Quite frankly, the lawmakers associated with this egregious legislation should know better, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
The federal governments overall workforce, particularly in DoD, consists mostly of more expensive contractors. In DoD, total civilian personnel funding increased from $41 billion in 2001 to $69 billion in 2010; during that same period, total service contract funding increased from $104 billion to $181 billion.
As noted by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin in 2011: Over the last decade, DoD spending for service contract services has more than doubled, from $72 billion in fiscal year 2000 to more than $150 billion (not including spending for overseas contingency operations), while the size of the Departments civilian workforce has remained essentially unchanged.
And as noted last year by Chairman McKeon: The Department now spends a greater portion of its budget purchasing services than it does purchasing weapons systems, hardware, and other products. In fact, the Department spends more on contracted services than it does on pay for military and civilian personnel combined.
Nevertheless, Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Inhofe would impose no sacrifices on contractors. In fact, by arbitrarily reducing the federal workforce, agencies would simply contract out more work at higher prices. In 2011, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) compared the cost of federal employees and contractors in a recent seminal studyBad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractorsdetermined that on average, contractors charge the government almost twice as much as the annual compensation of comparable federal employees. Of the 35 types of jobs that POGO looked at in its new reportthe first report to compare contractor billing rates to the salaries and benefits of federal workersit was cheaper to hire federal workers in all but just two cases.
If members of Congress want to reduce DoD, they should take on their weapons contractors cronies by reforming how we buy their products, reduce excessive layers of management bureaucracy, cap at $200,000 annually taxpayer subsidies to contractor compensation, and substitute reliable and experienced federal employees for ruinously costly contractors. If lawmakers want to end sequestration, they should work together and with the President on revenue-raising offsets.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.