On August 11, 2006, I posted here about how my job may be eliminated (http://spicedogs.livejournal.com/6856.html). My position is being considered to be outsourced. That means that I would be either fired or hired by the commercial business that actually replaced my job. In other words, I and my colleagues would be employees of a consulting firm.
I know that a lot of people who are not involved with government and who tend to think of themselves as conservatives find the outsourcing system useful. Government workers are deemed to be lazy, nonproductive, and useless. Folks, I worked on all types of business: commercial, nonprofit, self-employment, freelance, and now government. Of all my jobs, this is where not only do I work hard, I am also very productive and extremely needed.
Outsourcing benefits only one entity: The consulting business to whom the work was outsourced. But my CEO, who is our president, loves business and made a mandate that lot of us would have to go. The government is spending too much money on our salaries. Some one has to pay for the Iraqi war.
If I am to be fired (or laid off), I will no longer be a productive, tax-paying member of the society. What good is that? If I am to be hired by the winner of the bidding war for my job, I will have my salary more than likely cut in half and the consulting firm will charge the government 5 times the amount that I would have received as a salary. How is that improving our spending?
Now, where am I going with this essay? I just read that the troubles that
Mr. President, please wake up and smell the coffee!
Officials say outsourcing partly to blame for Walter Reed failures
During a Monday hearing to investigate widely publicized problems at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, lawmakers and Army officials placed partial blame on a public-private job competition that sapped the facility of workers, and on uncertainty about the slated closure of the center in the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure process.
Several lawmakers questioned whether it had been a mistake to outsource base operations support through a competition conducted under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76 rules. The Walter Reed competition began in January 2000 and went through numerous protests and appeals. The contractor selected to perform the work, Cape Canaveral, Fla.-based IAP Worldwide Services, finally took over operations on Feb. 4 of this year.
"We certainly could have done it better, and maybe we shouldn't have done it at all," said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the head of the Army Medical Command and Walter Reed's commander from 2002 to 2004, in response to a question from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
Maj. Gen. George Weightman, who was fired last week from his command of the center after holding the position for just more than six months, testified that over the course of the extended competition, "not knowing the future has affected garrison operations."
Weightman said the combination of outsourcing and the BRAC process, which is slated to close Walter Reed and consolidate many of its services into the nearby, Bethesda-based National Naval Medical Center, was a "huge destabilizing force on the civilian workforce," which he said represents two-thirds of Walter Reed personnel.
In a March 2 letter to Weightman, the Democratic leadership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and its subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, which convened Monday's hearing, warned that they would seek further information about a September internal memorandum from Walter Reed Garrison Commander Col. Peter Garibaldi requesting additional personnel for the facility.
In that memorandum, Garibaldi wrote that skilled personnel were leaving Walter Reed through early retirement, voluntary separation and placement at other agencies, in preparation for a reduction in force for employees affected by the A-76 competition. He warned, though, that the center's workload had gone up significantly since it was measured before Sept. 11, 2001, and the expectations on which the competition had been run were out of date.
The commander requested additional personnel to staff the facility during the transition to IAP, as well as a long-term boost to federal employee numbers. The lawmakers quoted Garibaldi as writing, "Without favorable consideration of these requests, WRAMC Base Operations and patient care services are at risk of mission failure."
On Monday, Weightman said attrition reduced the number of employees affected by the competition from a high of 190 down to about 100 people. He said that despite being given authority to staff up to bridge the gap, he was unable to find more than 10 additional people to take positions not slated to last beyond four months.
Earlier in the competition process, the number of affected employees was estimated to be 350, and the committee letter cited that number falling as low as 60, the day before IAP took over base operations last month. Kiley and Weightman repeatedly insisted Monday that the high and low were 190 and 100, respectively, and it was not immediately clear where the discrepancy arose.
The final hearing panel Monday consisted of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody and Peter Geren, the Army undersecretary tapped to serve as acting secretary until a replacement is named for Francis Harvey, who resigned Friday. Subcommittee chair John Tierney, D-Mass., asked who gave the final go-ahead to privatize base operations.
Answering for all three, Geren said he could not explain. "I don't know how the decision is made to engage the A-76 process," he acknowledged.