February 24th, 2010
07:38 AM ET
5 years ago

Contractors outnumber full-time workers at DHS; lawmakers 'astounded'

 Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins call the hiring situation at the Department of Homeland Security ‘unacceptable.’.
Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins call the hiring situation at the Department of Homeland Security ‘unacceptable.’.

Washington (CNN) - The Department of Homeland Security has more contractors working for it than full-time employees, a situation two members of Congress said Tuesday was "unacceptable, untenable and unsustainable."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and ranking Republican Susan Collins said they were "astounded" to learn there are more than 200,000 contractor employees at the department.

The civilian work force of Homeland Security numbers 188,000, according to an estimate provided to the senators by Homeland Security.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the agency's Secretary Janet Napolitano, Lieberman and Collins said the figure "raises the question of whether DHS itself is in charge of its programs and policies, or whether it inappropriately has ceded core decisions to contractors."

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Filed under: DHS • Joe Lieberman • Susan Collins
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is a growing concern. We need people who are firmly committed to the country. Contractors will pull out if they aren't making money.

    February 24, 2010 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. deb0155

    That's what you call Washington at its best!

    February 24, 2010 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    But we are going to have Hope and Change now, right. More wasteful spending, more debt, the DHS was a GOP boondoggle and health care the democrats boondoggle coming this week to add another three to five trillion of wasteful debt.
    Govenment can not fix the problems, Government is the problem! Less Governemnt, more Liberty. Less debt, lower taxes.
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    February 24, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  4. Indy

    Obviously Lieberman was pre occupied with his Republican agenda to pay attention to what is going on here. There is no excuse for him not knowing this information on a daily basis. In the real world Joe would be fired because of this information for sleeping with the enemy and not doing his job for Homeland Security. He should have been on top of this when Cheney/Bush started this trend along with many other contract positions their freinds and business partners got during the administration. Shame on Joe !!! Fired Now !!! For Sleeping on the tax payers payroll !!!

    February 24, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  5. jim

    Why don't we off shore Homeland Security to China, India, Mexico, just like America does with everything else.

    Who needs America!!

    February 24, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. Eve

    Typcially, a contract employee costs a lot more (hourly wage) than a full-time employee (even when including benefits). This is wasted tax payer money.

    February 24, 2010 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. JC from Kansas-40 years a Republican -so sorry

    Why should this surprise anyone, we have done the same thing to the military over the past 30 years. Private security companies instead of military police, civilian cooks rather than military cook, civilian truck drivers rather than transportation units, civilian mechanics rather than military maitenenace units, civilian ammunition specilists rather than trained military personnel, contract doctors rather than military doctors. Heck I know it produces jobs in the civilian market place, but it sure makes providing support to our forces in the field a rolling nightmare. Who can we thank for the contracting out of the military, well, it started under Reagan, hit its peak under G HW Bush, with the reduction of the military by 250,000, and brought to fullfillment under G W Bush with the first temps R us war conducted by the active duty, agumented by the national guard and reserves and supported by Blackwater and Halleberton.

    February 24, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. T'SAH from Virginia

    Hire Contractors and you don't have to cover them with Health Care!!

    BUT, I must say in the Contractor's defense – they do get the job DONE becuase they are hired for "specific" duties and usually meet deadlines.

    Employees tend to be LAZY and take too many coffee breaks because they know their job is guaranteed... and you know it's TRUE!!!!

    February 24, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. Papasan in AZ

    Proof that the Government is part of the Problem, not the Solution...

    February 24, 2010 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. jules sand-perkins

    Secretary Janet Napolitano certainly has done a wonderful job! I'm trying to remember who had the wisdom to put her in that position...
    Well, whoever gets the credit for her being there, Secretary Napolitano is one of the prime reasons that "the system worked" so well in that little matter at the airport in Detroit. Napolitano is as acute as Coakley!
    Lawm
    akers need not be "astounded" at small errors, using harsh, critical words like "unacceptable" against right-thinking advocates for our security. Their hearts are in the right place, as is the workers' President's own guileless heart.

    February 24, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Chad

    Easy solution: do away with the Dept of Homeland Security entirely. We don't need it and its name is blatantly Orwellian.

    February 24, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. independent Jim

    Happens in nearly every agency. How many contractors do the work at DOD and DOE? This has been going on for years!

    February 24, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    The way Washington is "getting nothing done", you are better off with contractors, than employees.

    February 24, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Jim Yurko

    This is a very common practice. Universities and Colleges have been doing it for years to save money. Their faculty is usually 60%+ adjunct instructors and only 35% full time faculty. This means that the administration can keep costs down because usually contracted individuals do not have any full time employee benefits, health care, sick leave, or vacation time. I agree with the two members of congress, but the facts are that more and more public service providers are getting around the FLSA and State laws and using contracted help to save money and allow them to reduce staff without any concerns for unemployment benefits, employee protections and employment policies. The consumers and/or students are the only ones that are hurt because there is no quality if an employee has no long term committment to the agency or their profession.

    February 24, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Carl R. Remoney

    No kidding! Their only qualification required is that they are of some ethnic background, doesn't matter if they can't read and write? How surprising that our federal government would hire such people...

    February 24, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. Scott, Tucson

    Maybe some those 270 Somalis with possible terrorist ties that entered the U.S. illegally and whom ICE is searching for, have been hired on by DHS?

    February 24, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  17. Peter E

    Duuuh! The very reason why we've had such a bloated defense budget for decades (we outspend the rest of the world combined on military) is because we've had government outsource its functions to greedy private businesses. Industrial lobbyists have bought the government and make sure contracts go their way. This is nothing new. Even President Eisenhower warned about this. Government has become just a mechanism to channel our tax money to greedy private businesses, who in turn whine about government takeovers if we ever dare check on what they do with our money. It is not government that is growing. It is private businesses using your taxpayer money and hiding behind the government who've been growing.
    If any of this was new information to you then I suggest you pull your head out of the sand and start reading some 20th century history books!

    February 24, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Limbaugh is a liberal

    I am confused! Shouldn't big-business republicans be happy about all these contractors? Afterall, it is not taxpayer money going to bigger government. It's taxpayer money going to private businesses. It should be a win-win for repuiblicans. Government 'doesn't' grow, and money finds its way to the pockets of private business!

    February 24, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. Dar

    This is the Odumbo way, hiring his Union buddies. You dont accually think that Odumbo put Janet in there to run this department do you. He is the one telling her what to do. Odumbo is one scary dude and we dont know what else he is doing behind closed doors

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    February 24, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Mark

    I'm sure the outrage is that those contractors probably don't belong to a union. Turn them into government workers and voila, you have just increased union membership by almost 200,000 and guarantee huge payoffs in campaign contributions.

    February 24, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Robert - FL

    Suprise, suprise...a Junior Bush Dept. loaded with government contractors. Kind of like the war in Iraq with Halliburton, Brown & Root, Blackwater, and all of the rest of the coporate vultures swooping down to feed on Uncle Sam's carcass.

    February 24, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. sonny chapman

    Yep, and the Karl Rove/George W. Bush/Dick Cheney/Don Rumsfeld master plan is to have every contractor contribute to the Republican money machine.

    February 24, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Paul C.

    The Dept. of Homeland Security has become an ungovernable monster.
    It was a easily recognizable mistake when Bush made it a all inclusive Department that was master of none.

    February 24, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |