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DHS to Move 3,200 Contractor Jobs In-House

10/09/2009 -The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking the first baby steps to reverse the long-standing trend of relying on private contractors to carry out government business,reports Government Executive.

The Homeland Security Department has identified about 3,200 contractor jobs that will be converted to federal positions, a senior acquisition official said on Monday.

Tom Mason, director of policy and acquisition workforce at DHS' Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, said officials pinpointed work that "should probably be done by government employees" through internal analyses. The jobs are spread across 20 offices within Homeland Security, and are in areas where the department relies on contractors for daily functions its employees should be able to perform, he told attendees of Government Executive's Excellence in Government conference.

DHS currently has about 1.1 to 1.2 contractors for every federal employee. Most federal DHS employees, according to Mason, are on the front-lines protecting Americans, like the people we see at the nation's airports, ports of entry, and waterways.

Reforming the government's acquisition policies has been a priority for the Obama administration. In late July, Joe Davidson of the The Washington Post reportedthat an Office of Management and Budget memo, "Improving Government Acquisition," from Director Peter Orszag directed federal agencies to begin cutting contract spending by 3.5 percent for the next two fiscal years. In another memo, "Managing the Multi-Sector Workforce," Orszag told federal agencies to begin identifying contractor positions that should be done in-house and then move them from private contractors to government employees, reports Davidson.

DHS's Mason believes his department is now ahead of curve when it comes to moving positions held by private contractors back to into government.

♦ Photo byRaymond Yee/Flickr