Cheap Labor – Not the Answer for Government

I follow a l0t of the conversations going around on the web comments pages.  An article about contract labor and outsourcing for government showed up on CNBC’s site.  The high wages of government workers are cited as a reason for our deficits . . . can’t be the politicians.

These governments workers are making the budget busting amount of $15 – 20 per hour plus benefits.  Bastards!  Greedy, aren’t they?  This bothers me in light of the government bailout poster children – Fannie and Freddie – whose top execs got over $2 million in bonuses (each).  This for such well run organizations that just borrowed $169 billion more.  When do we get the well run organization first, before we pay the big bonuses?  I am still waiting for the previous execs for Fannie and Freddie to go to jail.

Back to the task at hand – cheap labor in government.

I worked as a CIO for a year in government, government is full of waste.  It is everywhere you look.  However, the workers in government are not to blame for the poor design of the work.  Political ideology vacillating back and forth over the years is what created our current problem with government design.  No one in government knows how to design good work.

Politicians go immediately to the “technology well” to modernize and automate.  No evidence or knowledge this is the right or wrong thing to do.  The design requires many times the number of workers that are needed for a well-designed system.    But between the functional separation of work and keeping labor costs down, government management instead “dumb’s down” the design to keep costs down.  Ridiculous? Yep and it is costing us in the way of huge deficits for government.

What this means that if design work that adds value to constituents that maybe workers are paid a wage of $30 – 40 per hour or more.  As a taxpayer, I would gladly pay these wages for a system that isn’t full of waste.

We are missing a great opportunity to change the system that is more full of blind political ideology and misguided legislation.  Making the government workers a part of the solution rather than pointing a finger at them as the problem would be useful . . . that would mean that politicians would have to point the finger at themselves (sigh).

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Learn more about the 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

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