Via the invaluable blog devoted to developments in federal government ethics, the IEC Journal, I came across this Web course for federal workers on the issues raised by working with government contractors:
Increasingly, private sector contractor employees are being used to accomplish the business of Government. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. These contractor employees can work either off-site or even in the same location as you. This may sometimes cause certain ethical issues to arise which you’ll need to think about.
It is important for you to know about the ethics rules and principles that focus on the specific situations that are likely to come up when Government and contractor employees work closely together. Some of these rules will be familiar to you, especially if you have taken ethics training before in your agency. Some may not be so familiar.
And it goes on from there, describing different situations that might arise from having two people doing the people’s business, one of whom works for the people and the other who works for a private contractor.
I thought about that when I came across help wanted ad while doing some unrelated research on this $2 million earmark to SAIC for something called a “Command and Control Mission Manager (C2MM) Spiral 5.” Here’s the job description to which I’ve added a link:
JOB DESCRIPTION: Analyst on shift working as a member of a government-contractor team within the Fusion Branch of the INSCOM Intelligence Operations Center (IOC). Primary focus is providing support to INSCOM and its customers. Perform sensor-performance monitoring, life cycle management and delegated tasks (i.e. geographic area and threat-collection assessments). Integrate all-source intelligence with data gleaned from UGS to develop UGS deployment options, conduct trend analysis, and produce analytical products for dissemination. Perform tasks associated with support to UGS supporting ground forces in general regardless of geographic area of operations. Communicate sensor performance status to leadership as well as vendor for supporting priority actions. Draft sensor contributory highlights to demonstrate theater ISR integration. Maintain current draft of Theater, CJTF, and INSCOM PIRs and/or ONS as related to QRC support (UGS, WSS). Draft daily summaries; perform website updates, reports and trend analysis to support operations. Provide in-depth intelligence analysis in support of a wide variety of Army and Joint operations. This position will require shift work and periodic overtime in support of 24/7 operations.
INSCOM is a major Army command that “conducts dominant intelligence, security and information operations for military commanders and national decision makers.” It’s a government intelligence agency, in other words, doing government work to be used by others in the government. It’s not exactly clear to me why this wouldn’t be a government job, why the military would be hiring a “private sector contractor employee” to “accomplish the business of Government,” but, as the ethics course above notes, it is an increasingly common phenomenon, one that has yet to be fully studied. For example, is it cheaper to have a government employee or an employee of SAIC do the job?