Front page news today (October 26, 2019) is that the Feds have decided to give Microsoft 10 billion dollars to help with cloud storage of data. Which means, of course, that we taxpayers will be out the $10 billion. The issue here is, among others, whether government employees or private contractors should do the work. Sometimes, as is the case when, say, the school district buys computers or toilet paper or some such, we absolutely must use private contractors. But sometimes, and this appears to be the case with the Microsoft contract, the project could be better handled by having the government do it directly. It is illusory to claim that the government is small if its work is done by contracted third parties. The Soil Conservation Service is an example. That work is now done by government employees, but, no doubt, it could be contracted out to third parties. If so, the politicians could proudly point to a smaller government, but not to a smaller cost. There would be no savings to the taxpayer.
Our new $10 billion gift to Microsoft points out another reason to have something done by government employees (or not done at all). The lobbying for that $10 billion was trememdous. IBM, Oracle, Amazon and others all wanted part of it and all lobbied for it. We don’t know if any of the procurement people were bribed, but we know that the incentive to bribe was great. No matter how much effort is spent cleaning up a sewer, its still a sewer. And it still stinks.