DoD program officials “generally try to use civilian or military personnel to meet workload requirements” in major procurements, GAO has said, but each of the 11 programs auditors examined in detail used at least some contractors—and their share of the total program personnel varied widely, from 5 to 72 percent.
Officials said they use contractor support “when the number of government personnel allocated to the program is not sufficient to meet their needs, the technical skills are not available or are limited within the government, or to fulfill short-term tasks that are too brief to justify hiring government personnel,” a report said.
It said that about two-thirds of the contractors that supported the 11 programs were performing engineering and technical functions not present in the department’s own workforce. In one program “officials stated that the required engineering expertise resides in the commercial sector, which resulted in contracted engineers comprising about 77 percent of the program’s total engineering personnel.”
In addition, in some cases programs relied especially heavily on contractors—as well as military personnel—due to the difficulty of filling federal employee positions for the work in high-cost areas where salaries are not competitive.
The report said that it is difficult to directly compare costs of the different categories of work because they are accounted for in different parts of the budget and the military services additionally use different methods.