Recently I read a memo written by Peter Orszar, former Director of the Office of Budget and Management. In the memo, Orszag has identified that the goal for government is to find the optimal mix of public and private resources to deliver the highest level of service to citizens. He also cautions that an overreliance on contracts can lead to an erosion of the federal workforce.
With an increasing use of public/private partnerships, there are new challenges facing the public sector workforce, at all levels of government. As government competes with the private sector for talented employees, outsourcing work may inadvertently put government at a disadvantage to recruit talent.
In the memo, Orszag explains that an overreliance on contractors can potentially negatively impact the federal workforce. “Overreliance on contractors can lead to the erosion of the in-house capacity that is essential to effective government performance,” states Orszag. He continues:
“Such overreliance has been encouraged by one-sided management priorities that have publicly rewarded agencies for becoming experts in identifying functions to outsource and have ignored the costs stemming from loss of institutional knowledge and capability and from inadequate management of contracted activities. Too often agencies neglect the investments in human capital planning, recruitment, hiring, and training that are necessary for building strong internal capacity – and then are forced to rely excessively on contractors because internal capacity is lacking.”
These are important observations, and should not be taken lightly by government. Although Peter Orszag is speaking to a federal audience, the implications are true at all levels of government. As more and more baby boomers start to exit the workforce, and government is left with a potential skill gap, government needs to be paying close attention to its workforce.
Do you support Orszag’s comments?
How does contracting impact the workforce in your agency?
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