Reply to post: Re: Coincidence or something serously wrong here...

Feds collar chap who allegedly sneaked home US hacking blueprints

tom dial Silver badge

Re: Coincidence or something serously wrong here...

Have an upvote for general correctness. However, I will make a few additional observations.

Federal government agencies like NSA are constrained by both staffing limits and general schedule compensation limits. The first may keep them from hiring enough people to accomplish their mission, and the second may reduce their ability to hire enough people in technical specialties that are especially well compensated in the private sector. It is very likely that both of these constraints bear on the NSA, as well as some other agencies; the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency seems likely to be another example.

This situation is not the fault of the Obama administration alone. The Congress, in its sometimes misguided effort to (appear to) reduce the size of the federal government, is fully complicit. Furthermore, it certainly extends at least two administrations back, to the Clinton administration, and probably back further to that of Reagan. Democrats and Republicans are about equally culpable.

The solution is, and always has been, to increase appropriations without increasing staffing limits, ignoring the fact that, as another poster noted, that it increases the cost of federal government operations quite substantially. As this post notes, it also allows agencies to hire people to critical positions at rates above what the general schedule will allow. According to his claims, Edward Snowden was paid far more than the GS-12 or 13 rate that would be the range for his job, based on his known CV. More often, however, contractor employees receive less, and sometimes much less, than the GS rate for their positions. The contractor firm bills substantially more than they pay the employee (they are in business to make money, and actually incur expenses for management, payroll, and sometimes fringe benefits). It is not uncommon for them to bill more than the fully burdened cost of a civil service employee in a position.

I've worked on both sides. As a manager, I found the ease of filling vacancies under an existing contract extremely helpful, but the low rate paid in some cases was quite distasteful, and I encouraged contractor employees to apply for civil service vacancies that came up. The contractor employees we got, though, were as good on average as the civil servants. Later, as a contractor employee (under the same contract) I was paid on a par with my civil service counterparts. My employer was a subcontractor to the primary, whose contract limited them to a rate that may well not have allowed both them and my employer a profit. That probably did not bother either of them, as they supplied quite a few others at lower rates and could make their contracts profitable as a whole.

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