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Source: Mother Jones

Category: Digital Media, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

9 Responses to “The Private-Intelligence Boom, by the Numbers”

  1. formerlawyer says:

    One wonders how many of these “contractors” were transferred from government service as a “cost-cutting measure” then re-hired as independent contractors at a higher scale, albeit without the pension and benefit obligations that government employment would entail?

  2. Dogfish says:

    One also wonders how many of our legislators (or their major campaign contributors) have investments in the firms of such contractors?

    One may also wonder if the push for privatization was less about efficiency, and more about converting public services into for-profit entities, with the profit streams directed at those pushing for privatization?

  3. dksallaz says:

    I am one of those “contractors”–spent 34 years in the Army and now work part time for two defense contractors helping to train our military. I travel all over the world to do this and make the grand sum of $30/hour with no benefits except a 401k. I have a secret clearance–required by the job.

    Would or could any of you do that for such little money. I think not. I do it because I love troops and enjoy working with them.

  4. ccity says:

    I have a worked for a number of large government contractors in the IC, and I can tell you that there is no way that $207,000/year number is the “average”. I was a project manager for a large project with access to the salary information for over 150 IT workers with advanced certifications in various key technologies and not even one of them made > $200,000. The average was still high (I would guess about $120,000) but still much lower. I did some digging for this “source” and found this article

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/out-service

    which I believe is where this number came from. It appears to stem from some random HR person at the ODNI and there is no source to back it up. My guess is that someone pulled their number from their backside and it has been passed along from this single bad source.

    I know less about government salaries – but I do know there is a GS scale that determines salaries, and according to that scale for an average of $110,000 a year would mean that every government employee was on average a GS 14 step 3, which is frankly silly since people don’t make GS14 or GS15 (the max you can get) without having a job description the entails managing other people.

  5. ruetheday says:

    My guess is that the $207k average salary is based on the bill rate of the firm for which the contractor works.

    E.g., the contractor is paid a salary of $100k (assuming they are a W2 and not a 1099) and the firm that they’re working through is billing the government around $100/hour for this person. Multiply the $100/hr by 2080 (the standard value for billable hours in a year) and you come surprisingly close to $207k. The contracting firm is pocketing a little over half of that (a little less than half if they’re providing benefits to the contractor).

    • a2ricedgti says:

      Ill second ruetheday’s comment…I have a hunch the numbers are “apples and oranges” comparison. Government salary number is probably straight gross wage excluding all benefits and the contractor rate is probably the bill rate for the contracting agency. I’m a contractor of this type in the Oil & Gas industry.

      Additionally, contractors usually need to be compensated more than traditional employees for two reasons: risk premium and mobility premium. Since the contracts inevitably end at some point you need to find the next gig, which means you need to find a new job every few months/year(s) and may include an unemployed period. A federal employee would be kept on the books even if there was nothing for them to work on for a few months. The mobility premium pays folks to work somewhere outside of their home area (another state often) on a temporary basis. You might be in one place for 6 months getting per diem and living in a hotel, then move on to a new hotel in a new state for 6 months.

      • a2ricedgti says:

        Oops that was supposed to be ” I’m a contractor of this type in the Oil & Gas industry and my bill rate is about 25% more than my wage”

  6. ccity says:

    Yes, that was my theory as well – but its very misleading to call an hourly rate paid to a contractor a “salary”, especially when the point you are making is comparing it to a government salary that includes all of the overhead of benefits, vacation, office space, accounting, a computer, etc…

    Of course the whole point is to get people pissed off, but I think there are plenty of “real” problems we could be focusing on.

  7. Chad says:

    Based on my experience $207k is a little high and $120k is a little low. $150-160k would seem closer to average. Lots of reasons for this outsourcing, but a lot of it really should be brought back in house (not just the intel, but standard outsourced jobs as well).