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Reforming the American Military Officer Personnel System: Addendum: Thoughts on Contractors

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation Santa Monica United States

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At this point in U.S. history, it is particularly important that the government address the use of contractors to accomplish the nations business. Testimony before Congress suggests that current practices are not cost-effective, as suggested by the comparisons of costs of government employees and contract workers, as well as the number of firms that the government is taking legal action against. There needs to be a clear understanding of when it is appropriate to contract functions never individual jobs and the oversight that the government must provide. The government should strictly adhere to the concept of inherently governmental and the prohibition on personal services contracting. Contract personnel must never be put in a position where there is any semblance of a conflict of interest. The interests of a contractor are ultimately private gain, and do not necessarily align with the interests of the government. To think otherwise is to invite problems. Converting positions from contractors back to the government will not be easy and will run counter to the canard that measures the efficiency of government by the number of people it employs. Not counting the hordes of service contractors engaged by the government paints a misleading narrative of smaller government. Clearly, there are things that should be contracted and that the government need not and should not undertake, but the unfettered use of contractors has skyrocketed and must be brought under control.

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