How many contractors does DHS actually have?


I did a quick post yesterday on Sen. George Voinovich’s hold on Rafael Borras, announced at yesterday’s DHS management hearing in the Senate Homeland Security committee.

One other colloquy from that hearing worth mentioning: Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., got into a discussion with Elaine Duke, the current undersecretary for management, about how many contractors work at DHS. McCaskill has been trying to get a hard number for years; the department finally sent her a spreadsheet last month, which lists 10,520 contractors in the Washington area. But it turns out even that figure might not be accurate. Here’s Duke:

The figures are based on algorithms… so they’re as accurate as we can get under the current conditions. There was an attempt about six years ago to start counting contractors… it was put out in the Federal Register as a public notice. The comment from industry was so strong that the notice was withdrawn, and the federal government did not go forward with that policy… we’re looking at that again, how should we be counting contractors, how should we be accountable.

Contractors say they’re being hired to provide a service, and it shouldn’t matter how many subcontractors they use to deliver a service; what’s more, they claim that’s privileged information. But it seems senators, particularly McCaskill, are going to push DHS to come up with an exact figure next year.


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  1. I would have thought that Badge Retention would have been on the Homeland SECURTY’s priority list. It’s shameful that it actually has to be written out. To know that there is no central database for this OR that the databases do not collaborate in any sense of the word is criminal. Almost nine years to have gotten this straight. You were starting from scratch, had a clean slate and still buggered it up by using old methods. There are badges to count. Everyone has SOME kind of clearance so there are records that you could count as well to verify. Plain laziness. The nation isn’t anymore safer than it was before 2001. This is just another case to prove that.

  2. It’s not as simple as that. A contractor may have some employees who work on government contracts and some who work on contracts that support private industry, thus a count of the number of employees working for a contractor will not provide the appropriate contractor count. Further, just because a contractor employee works on a government contract doesn’t meant that employee ever enters government spaces and thus may not have a government badge either. Also, a contractor employee may have a government clearance, but may not be currently working on a government contract. And finally, you need to know what you want to count. If two contractor employees are working half time on a government contract, do you want to count that as one employee (what the government is paying for) or two (the actual number of people)?

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