Stone the Contractors – the real deal behind contractor controversy

Over the past several years contractors have been in the news often because of some perceived misstep. They have been maligned for exceeding the boundaries set by their contracts. They have worked outside the law.

Our unscientific research shows, yes, contractors who cross that line have little choice: it is expected by the govvies that hire them.

According to reports by Reuters News Agency, Defense, and others, Defense Secretary (and Occasional Superhero) Robert M. Gates is reviewing the role of contractors in intelligence gathering, following accusations some helped track and kill militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The suspended defense official in this matter maintains he had approval for his work, and defends his contractors’ role.

Sadly, this finger-pointing with contractors is nothing new.

For many years, there was a clearer distinction between contractor and client. Contractors often come with tremendous expertise, but some retired military seem to think they have active-duty obligations and often possess misplaced loyalty.

Welcome to 2010. Contractors and government types have become interchangeable – and clients like it. In speaking to one technical supervisor. “Oh, we don’t like to distinguish between contractor and government personnel. We’re all here to do the same job.”

This brings us to the “Boxers or Briefs” question. The aforementioned government supervisor probably speaks for most. Today, contractors are making decisions for divisions and even commands because the process to do otherwise has become so arduous. The refrain, “That’s what we hired you for,” has become too common, though a department can come under scrutiny and a contractor can be tossed for encouraged violations.

They say, “Contractors don’t speak for the government.” Well, that may be true in a parallel universe, but it happens every day.

This reality in many a defense trench is just how the government wants it contractors – indistinguishable. It’s quicker and easier until someone makes a big mistake or the disgruntled wail on the whistle.

There are always more contractors to fill the sacrificial slot.

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