Occupy Tysons Corner

Posted on November 6, 2011


Excerpt from the Washington Post on 6 Nov

No, not the Northern Virginia shopping malls outside Washington. Rather, the government contractors located there, which have metastasized as federal agencies have outsourced more of their work with the “reinventing government” push of the 1990s and the homeland security boom of the past decade. The federal government now spends more than $500 billion each year on contracts for all kinds of functions, from building weapons systems to designing Web sites to reviewing grant applications — more than double what it spent in 2000.

And the contractors who get this work are paid on scales beyond anything traditional federal workers could dream of. A recent study by the Project on Government Oversight found that of the 35 job classifications it examined, contractor billing rates were on average 83 percent higher than what the government pays federal employees for the same type of work. The growth in contracting also has exacerbated another form of inequality: the increasing gap between metro Washington and other regions in the country, since so many of those high-paid contracting jobs are clustered around the capital.

The Professional Services Council, which represents federal contractors, argues that their pay is in line with what’s needed to attract top talent. “The private sector simply has a different economic model that it’s working with,” said the council’s Alan Chvotkin. “Are top executives making more than top people in government? Absolutely. They’re making more than the president of the United States.”

A lot more, actually. Contracting firms are allowed to bill up to $700,000 per year for executive compensation, well above the president’s annual $400,000 salary. The chief executives of contractors General Dynamics, Booz Allen and SAIC last year took home $13.7 million, $3.5 million and $5.2 million, respectively.