In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post last Friday, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lt. Gen. Michael Maples responded to the WaPo story that the DIA was outsourcing a record $1 billion.
Gen. Maples writes:
The proposal is a consolidation of more than 30 existing contracts into a single contract vehicle that can be more effectively managed. Hence, this posting is not a "record" in outsourcing intelligence activities; rather, it is a better way of aggregating existing requirements.
Now it's a clever defense that the contract is not record-setting since these services are already outsourced--we're not doing anything eye-popping--we did that a long time ago; it's just that no one was looking. Given the Beltway love of word parsing, it is also worth noting that no where does the general claim that that $ 1 billion of current contracts are being canceled or replaced. We have no idea as to the size of the 30 existing contracts that will be folded into the new contract vehicle.
One real question it raised for me was in the statement, "DIA contractors currently represent about 35 percent of our workforce." It's a tough one to reconcile with an unclassified presentation at a conference in May by the Office of the General Counsel of the DIA included this enlightening slide:
Now can anyone help me understand this? If it's true that contractors make up only 35% of the workforce of the DIA, why are they 51% of the personnel in DIA office space? Is the DIA that generous with its office space? Or are we perhaps looking at yet another case of numbers parsing to minimize the real issue?
Call me naive, but I'm guessing the DIA *loves* to share its office space with green badgers, wanting them to feel comfortable in big, roomy offices where they can exercise their "fiduciary duty to their employer only," while applying their "profit motive" to do the DIA's work to "diverse and different standards"....
Now I'm guessing the same thing is going on at Headquarters where those blue badger government employees with their "taxpayer funded salaries" are probably doing everything they can to provide comfortable, generous office space to their green badger workforce. Perhaps yet another way for the blue badgers to fulfil their "fiduciary obligation to serve the public good" through their "universal and strict conduct standards" might be requiring all blue badgers to use public transportation so that the green badgers don't have to deal with the hassle of the current parking crunch at Langley. We can't forget, green badgers are part of the public those blue badgers serve. At the very least, the blue badgers could move to the back of the parking shuttle and let the green badgers sit in the front. After all, as the General Counsel of the DIA points out, "contractor can reassign employees from one contract to another at whim," so it makes sense to give green badgers unobstructed access to the nearest exists...
Perhaps DIA leadership should have consulted its own General Counsel before contracting out $1 billion of intel services with the goals of adding "greater flexibility to realign government resources, improve oversight and be more responsive, with potential savings in cost and manpower." This slide suggests that the Office of the General Counsel might not be in agreement.
It could very well be that outsourcing some DIA intel services could be a good thing, but before doing so, many issues need to be resolved. Given the difference between government employees and contract employees as viewed by the Office of the General Counsel of the DIA itself, the real question the press, Congress and the public should be posing to Generals Maples and Clapper and others at the Pentagon is:
- Why do they intend to increase their number of contract employees when they recognize such inherent problems with the employment model?
- Can the DIA afford $1 billion of staff who are paid a "private business salary" when it's own government staff receive "taxpayer funded salaries"?
- Can the DIA really afford $1 billion of staff who do not have a fiduciary duty to the DIA, but to another entity?
- Can the DIA afford $1 billion of staff who have "diverse and different standards?" Can the DIA afford $1 billion of staff who contractors can "reassign from one contract to another at a whim"?
- And can the DIA afford the coming green badger morale crisis when those current contract employees who occupy 51% of DIA office space get squeezed to wedge in the new $1 billion of green badger staff? Could it be they're counting on their blue badgers to feel the squeeze, do their "fiduciary obligation to serve the public good" and suck it in even more.
Happy Labor Day.