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If you feel happy that government workers, barred from work through no fault of their own, are getting back pay — well, prepare to feel a little less happy. Much government work is now done by contractors — and at the discretion of their private industry bosses, those working for contractors are probably going to be left holding the empty bag.
Federal workers may be eager for that next paycheck, and they have more reason to be than government contractors that won’t be reimbursed for their days off.
“I’ve had people resign because of the vulnerability of the government,” Ewen said.
CEO Shiv Krishnan, who also went without pay, doesn’t blame the handful of employees who couldn’t take the uncertainty anymore.
And while federal employees are expecting their back pay at the end of this month, that’s when government contractors will get their reduced paychecks.
So let’s tally things up: government workers get treated right — and they stick around. (So does the expertise and institutional memory that they possess.) Employees of government contractors get screwed — thanks again, Ted Cruz and Ed Royce! — and they leave, taking that expertise and institutional memory with them. And the quality of government services — at least those not provided by actual government employees — inevitably goes down.
The lesson of the stupidity of government shutdowns has been well aired. This less obvious lesson of the week, of the downside of outsourcing of government jobs in a time of nutty extremism, is worth noting as well.