Although he may not have intended it as such, all the publicity surrounding the recent published book by Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm once known as Blackwater, has actually served a useful public policy purpose; namely, highlighting the near ubiquitous presence of private military and security contractors (PMSC), as well as other types of private contractors, and the cost and benefits of using them.
When it comes to the costs of outsourcing formerly inherently governmental functions there are many different ways to calculate them but one relatively under-examined way is to consider the dangers of allowing what in almost any other industry would be considered a conflict of interest. Or. To put it more colorfully, does it really serve the public interest to allow a PMSC fox guard the government hen house?
Specifically, does anyone really think it is reasonable to assume that placing personal services contractors (Note: “personal services” is the umbrella category that all PMSC contracts fall under) in government procurement offices will produce dispassionate, objective assessments of the pros and cons of using PMSC?
Does anyone think that is a good idea; anyone, anyone at all? Hmmm, your silence is deafening.
Well, if you think this is an absurd idea rest assured you are not alone. William Charles Moorhouse is in the house. Major Moorhouse serves in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and is currently the Chief of Contract and Fiscal Law for the U.S. Army Expeditionary Contracting Command.