Compelling as the White House soap opera has become, there is a story in the Washington Monthly that may explain why government can’t seem to do anything right.
Reporter Gilead Edelman assembled the numbers and found that those politically popular government hiring freezes have backfired.
They’ve kept the number of federal employees at the same level as we had back in 1966. But at the same time, the number of private contractors doing federal work has exploded.
Approximately 3,700,000 private contractors now work at agencies including the Defense Department, the Veterans Administration, the National Security Agency, sometimes working right next to regular federal employees, except they make more money and get less scrutiny.
Edward Snowden comes to mind.
But one of the craziest examples in the article is the IRS. Right now, about $400 billion in taxes goes uncollected every year, and under legislation passed in 2015 the IRS will soon be hiring private contractors to go after it. Which has been tried twice before. And actually lost money.
Yet, the IRS staff, which is very good at collecting tax, has been cut by 13,000 people since 2010.
The effect of all this is that as long-time federal employees with lots of experience are replaced by contractors who come and go, the government gets dumber and dumber.
Although, I will say for tax cheats, happy days are here again.