I'm going to start with a simplistic example of outsourcing. I've talked about outsourcing before in the broader context of the economy.
I work in the healthcare industry. There was a time when healthcare facilities did their own laundry. About ten to fifteen years ago, it became the norm to hire an outside company to do the laundry. It's convenient because the truck delivers clean, crisp, folded laundry at the same time that it's hauling away the dirty laundry. This is supposed to save money because the contracted company specializes in laundry and is therefore more efficient at the task. So with this service, the healthcare facility doesn't have to hire and be responsible for employees to do the laundry, and also doesn't have to buy and maintain washers and dryers.
There are several problems with this arrangement, and I'm not entirely convinced there is any money being saved in the long run.
First, there is a noticeable increase in the amount of stained and damaged laundry. So picture this: you just had cardiac surgery, infection is a primary concern for the hospital staff and yourself. While you are up in your chair, the CNA comes in with fresh linen to change your bed. She unfolds the sheet and there is a large noticeable stain. Now, this is a hospital, so that stain was almost certainly caused by some kind of bodily fluid, which is really gross. Of course this kind of thing is bound to happen once in a while, but since the hospital started outsourcing the laundry, this has been happening quite a bit.
The staff complains about the laundry, but doesn't even know who to complain to. The staff used to be able to go to the basement and show the stains or tears to the people who are doing the laundry; and no one likes to be hassled, so the people doing the laundry pay closer attention to what they're doing. But with outsourcing, you never see the people who do the laundry. The people who pick up and drop off the laundry are just truck drivers; they don't know the people doing the laundry either. So, after a while, the complaints may finally reach the person who is in charge of hiring the laundry company, and he will contact the salesperson who sold him on the company's services, and the salesperson will apologize and offer some kind of discount or refund. And all the while, the hospital staff are still unfolding stained and torn sheets over the beds of patients.
I have never seen an example of outsourcing that doesn't work something like this. There is such a complicated web where even the outsource companies outsource to other companies. The buck literally never stops.
Now, lets talk about government outsourcing.
Edward Snowden had top secret US government security clearance, but was not an employee of the US government.
And we can't talk about outsourcing government security without talking about Aaron Alexis, the shooter at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC.
How is it possible that the Rhode Island police notified the Navy that Alexis, who was on his way to Washington for a job, was paranoid, delusional, hearing voices and hallucinating, without anyone at the Navy acting on that information in the two weeks before the shooting rampage?
Perhaps the problem is that Alexis didn't work for the Navy. He worked for Hewlett-Packard. And Hewlett-Packard didn't even hire him; they hired another company called The Experts to do the hiring.
But certainly the government performs it's own background checks on people who are employed by the companies the government hires? Certainly the US government decides who gets top secret security clearance?
The Office of Personnel Management (HR for the federal government) was privatized in 1996, and the now private hiring company for the federal government doesn't do the background checks either.
They contract background investigations out to a another company called USIS.
USIS was also the company that investigated Edward Snowden's background before awarding him a level of security clearance that allowed him access to... well I don't really know, it seems like the more appropriate question to ask is, "what didn't Snowden have access to?"
More importantly, who is responsible for the actions of Snowden and Alexis? The companies that hired them? The company that did the background checks? The government?
Is NO ONE responsible for hiring the 29-year-old high school dropout/espionage mastermind, or the paranoid delusional young man who had been discharged from the Navy for behavior problems AND had a history of gun violence?
I am tempted to side with the conspiracy theorists who believe that Mr. Alexis really was being controlled by the government with Extremely Low Frequency electromagnetic waves, just so I can believe that somebody somewhere has some kind of handle on things in this country.
But my personal experience with outsourcing leads me to believe that the only convoluted scheme being played out here is the scheme to increase corporate profits while decreasing corporate responsibility.
I guess the only real question I have is, why are we tolerating this? Why are we as a country so disinterested in the fact that no one is ever held accountable for these criminal lapses in our nation's security?