Government Shutdown Provides Inadvertent Lesson in Downside of Contracting

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Government Employees Protest Shutdown

Yay — government employees will be getting back pay for the time they spent furloughed!  (Of course, people doing the same or similar government work that was outsourced to government *contractors* probably aren’t.)

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.

About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Runs for office sometimes, so far to offer a challenge to someone nasty who would otherwise have run unopposed. Someday he might pick a fight intending to win it rather than just to dent someone. You'll know it when you see it. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. A family member works part-time as a campaign treasurer. He doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he hated. He does advise some local campaigns informally and generally without compensation. If that changes, he will declare the interest. He also runs a less frequently published blog called "The Brean," for his chosen hometown, where he is now fighting with its wealthiest and most avaricious citizen-donors. This just seems to be his way.