GovExec reports that the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has developed a draft report titled “Managing Federal Missions with a Multisector Workforce”, which discusses how federal agency managers can handle a staff consisting of both government and industry personnel. As federal managers work more towards performance-based ratings and assessments, the question of how to incorporate staff over whom they may not have direct control becomes more urgent. This article would be the same-old-same-old about how government managers aren’t equipped to manage contractors, were it not for two quotes that stuck out like a mile:
Members of the working group also said in many cases, contractors
have so much more expertise than managers that managers don’t have the
capacity to negotiate with them.
The working paper addressed the question of social values as
well. The government needs to decide at what level contractors should
be required to uphold government values, including veterans’
preference, civil rights and a drug-free workplace, the authors said.
And that’s not even the most interesting:
Panelists also said lobbyists hold more and more sway in deciding what companies received federal contracts.
Contracting is “shift[ing] to a mercantilist system,” said NAPA
fellow Thomas Stanton, a financial and legal policy advisor. Getting
a contract depends “on your access to the royal court.”
I’d be very interested in the evidence behind this statement but so far I haven’t been able to find the draft paper on the NAPA site. Lobbying for contracts is not a new practice, but if it’s on the increase at a time when the government is spending billions more on a wider range of products and services, the nation has a serious problem to solve, and must do so quickly.