Uncle Sam's dilemma: In-house or the outhouse!

Thursday - 6/13/2013, 2:00am EDT

Since the dawn of time, dogs and cats have been natural enemies. Civilization and cohabitation have had some impact on the natural rivalry. But given their druthers most dogs would chase any old cat for the fun of it.

Since at least the mid-1960s, federal workers and contractors have, at times, also been natural enemies. As the number of contractors increased, jump-started by the Clinton administration's outsourcing, the tension between the two groups increased.

Dogs chase cats. Cats claw dogs on the snout. Those are the rules.

Of course there are exceptions: Three of my favorite dogs, Pepper, Grady and Batman, coexist peacefully with their feline roommates. But there are times when Grady backslides and briefly resumes the chase! So it is with career civil servants and the contractors who often work alongside them. Sometimes they get along. Sometimes not.

While there are natural dog vs. cat tensions between feds and contractors, there are many times when they get along. They have even been known to date and mate with each other — even in top-secret outfits like the CIA and NSA where your color-coded ID tells a lot.

There are also frequent cross-overs:

Many federal workers become contractors and many contractors become federal workers.

Feds say they do it for the bigger bucks. Contractors cross over for security and retirement benefits. A lot of government workers are convinced that contractors make a lot more money while many contractors have unkind things to say about the work ethic of feds.

On Monday Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Uncle Sam might want to rethink having such a large number of contract employees. He pointed out that civil servants are in their third year without a pay raise and that studies have shown that contractors tend to make more money.

The ongoing case of Edward Snowden is an interesting example. He worked briefly for the CIA, then briefly for one of the top consulting firms in the world on a project for the NSA. Early news reports misstated his time in government, and as a contractor, and inflated his salary. More to come.

Depending on whom you talk to Snowden is either a cowardly traitor or a brave patriot. A snake or a saint.

On Tuesday Booz, Allen, his former employer and a major federal contractor, issued this statement:

"Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter."
The full extent of what he did, and what happens, is yet to be determined. But in the short-run, it will hurt a lot of government contractors and no doubt generate calls from Capitol Hill for "reforms."

Anti-contractor forces will say this case proves (or will prove) that there are too many contractors involved in too many operations and being paid far too much. The "vetting" system will come under review.

Anti-feds will say that three of the nation's biggest traitors were the CIA's Aldrich Ames and the FBI's Robert Hansen and Jonathan Pollard who worked for the Navy while supplying intelligence information to Israel. And that John Walker Jr. used his Navy connections to spy for the Soviets.

In the political world of D.C., the best defense is always to attack.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Lego toy people have grown "grumpier" over the years. In 1980, all the tiny yellow figurines came with a smile. But that dropped to just 50 percent by 2010, according to a team of researchers in New Zealand. Increasingly the toy creators are opting for scowls and other angry expressions.

"We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play," lead researcher Christoph Bartneck said.

(Source: NBC News)


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Bill aims to slash Medicare waste and fraud
Senators on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation Monday aimed at preventing waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid systems. The bipartisan bill, "Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures Act of 2013," or PRIME Act (H.R. 2305), targets improper payments made by the federal government to illegitimate beneficiaries.

PRC aims for speedier reviews of proposed Postal Service changes
The Postal Regulatory Commission wants to set a 90-day deadline for reviewing major U.S. Postal Service proposals that have a nationwide impact. The cash- strapped Postal Service has proposed a number of service and delivery changes to right its financial ship and says it needs more timely decisions from the commission to implement them.