Of course the problem is especially bad in the Bush Administration. Who would have guessed?
Here are some highlights:
Competition, intended to produce savings, appears to have sharply eroded. An analysis by The New York Times shows that fewer than half of all “contract actions” — new contracts and payments against existing contracts — are now subject to full and open competition. Just 48 percent were competitive in 2005, down from 79 percent in 2001.
The most successful contractors are not necessarily those doing the best work, but those who have mastered the special skill of selling to Uncle Sam. The top 20 service contractors have spent nearly $300 million since 2000 on lobbying and have donated $23 million to political campaigns.
Contracting almost always leads to less public scrutiny, as government programs are hidden behind closed corporate doors. Companies, unlike agencies, are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
“There’s something civil servants have that the private sector doesn’t,” Mr. Walker said in an interview. “And that is the duty of loyalty to the greater good — the duty of loyalty to the collective best interest of all rather than the interest of a few. Companies have duties of loyalty to their shareholders, not to the country.”
There is no target richer than the Homeland Security Department, whose Web site, in a section called “Open for Business,” displays hundreds of open contracts, including “working with selected cities to develop and exercise their catastrophic plans” ($500,000 to $1 million) and “Conduct studies and analyses, systems engineering, or provide laboratory services to various organizations to support the DHS mission” ($20 to $50 million).