Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Contracting Out and the Learning Curve

George Buddy had a piece on contracting that started with peeling potatoes on KP (for whippersnappers, "KP" stands for "kitchen police" which means young recruits doing scut duty for chiefs in the days before it was contracted out). Separate pieces of news today say: we have 100,000 contractors in Iraq; the inspector generals of State and DOD say that the contractors doing training of police in Afghanistan haven't produced a good police force; the FBI is having mixed success with its new computer modernization contract.

IMO "contracting out" works okay when the agency doing the contracting understands what's going on and doesn't need to learn anymore (like peeling potatoes). If you don't understand how to do the job successfully or it's too difficult to learn, then the contract is just passing a hot potato; it's bad for the agency, bad for the taxpayer, and bad for the recipient of the service.

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