Contracting Mania

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"Contracting Mania"

I’m not sure whether or not Shane Harris’ Government Executive cover story on human resources problems in the intelligence community is readable by those members of the audience who aren’t Atlantic Media Group employees (I’m still figuring things out; i.e., just this morning I learned that the firm includes Government Executive magazine) but it’s got some pretty interesting stuff even for those of us who aren’t government executives. He notes that the Intelligence Community has plenty of entry-level applicants and, therefore, quality early career people, and is also well-supplied with senior managers, but in the middle there’s a gap:

To fill the gap in the meantime, during wartime, the agencies have hired contractors in record numbers. The agencies have outsourced some of the most sensitive functions, including analysis, spying on foreign adversaries, prisoner interrogation and translation services.

Worse, it turns out that the high level of demand for contractors is one of the causes of the gap:

The federal intelligence community has become a place where the millennials learn spying tradecraft, obtain a coveted top-level security clearance and then bolt to contractors for heftier paychecks. This has become so common that intelligence observers now fear it could become the career path of choice – break into the private sector via the government.

The out-contracting of public service has, it seems to me, been a pretty spectacular failure across an astoundingly broad range of different kinds of activities.

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