August 20, 2011

The Aug. 16 front-page story about wealth in Great Falls fueled by government contracts [“Great Falls reflects big windfall”] left several questions unanswered.

For example, why is the federal government contracting out more services today than it did 20 or 30 years ago? And just how much is all this federal outsourcing of services costing taxpayers?

One person featured in the story made a fortune by providing help-desk personnel to the Federal Aviation Administration. Nice that the head of the company has an entrepreneurial spirit that allowed her to amass significant wealth through government contracts, but what kind of salary and benefits did her employees receive? Did the jobs pay better than they would have in the public sector?

Economic inequality continues to rise in this nation. Wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer people. The government should enact policies that provide more people with opportunity to move up the economic ladder. It certainly shouldn’t be an active participant in transferring wealth from the masses to an elite few.

Jenice Rochelle Robinson, Washington

The writer is director of communications at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

The article on breakaway wealth in Great Falls should be required reading for all elected and appointed federal officials, both Democrats and Republicans. They should ask themselves how this article would be received if it were published in newspapers in any other part of the country. Surely, there would be an immediate outcry about the gross misuse of 8-A minority set-aside program contracting as well as the obscene remuneration received by people doing the federal government’s work.

If the government is to regain credibility among the general populace, these abuses must cease.

Stephen Rattien, Washington

The most important word in the article regarding the Great Falls windfallwas “outsourcing.” Indeed, the article indicated that the federal government outsources its “tech support and other services to contracting firms ringing the Capital Beltway.” And included in the “tech support” would be both hardware and software development.

It must be noted that before Republican presidents and legislators began demonizing the federal workforce in their attempts to “shrink” the federal government, much of this tech support and development was done in-house, by federal workers — for much less money. This article very cogently described what happens when the federal government gets downsized and the work of federal employees is given to the private sector — at a much-increased cost to the American public.

Robert L. Werner, Washington