Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Privatized Bureaucracy

Controversy surrounding neglect at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. sheds new light on outsourcing government work to private contractors. The sheer amount of paper work required to use the facilities would irritate a completely health person, let alone a severely wounded or impaired soldier. A common complaint about "Big Government" is that their is too much red tape or paper work, creating the system that makes up the federal bureaucracy. What most people fail to realize is that large corporations have their own internal bureaucracy that is often just as cumbersome and irritating to deal with as a government bureaucracy.

So why is it conservatives in particular prefer the "efficiency" of the free market system to solve problems rather than relying on government institutions? It seems they forget private contractors which win the bids for outsourced government work can be just as inefficient and ineffective in dealing with the task at hand. We have seen evidence of this again and again over the last 6 years, including Iraq reconstruction, building a 9/11 memorial, cleaning up New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the Abu Ghraib prison, and now the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In each of these cases, at least some of the work involved was outsourced to private contractors by the government to the lowest bidder often with little to no competition, and usually to the largest corporation in a particular field. The results speak for themselves. How many more of these scandals involving private contractors doing outsourced government work are there going to be before people realize that corporate bureaucracy is no better than government red tape? At least there is oversight over the government bureaucracy which lies at the feet of Congress. Unfortunately, there is no real parallel in terms of oversight in the corporate world.

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