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Tom Temin

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Posted: 9/2/2009 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

I don’t get it, all this fuss about Federal agencies “poaching” employees from the private sector.  The rumors were discussed at the luncheon tables for a couple of months, before FCW gamely published a story

That story only quoted two people, Stan Soloway of the Professional Services Council and Anne Reed of Acquisition Solutions Inc.  Both have had distinguished Federal and private-sector service.  Although neither would name specific instances, they made some good points.  Soloway noted that agencies might be in danger of violating Merit Systems Protection Board policies.  Reed, whose company employs many former Federal managers, said that some of her staff had been approached by agencies, in one instance upon threat of a contract cancellation.
Disturbing as certain instances of recruitment might be, I think the general idea of the government recruiting people from contractors doesn’t rank up there as a hand-wringer.  It wasn’t so many years ago that the complaints ran the other way.  During the height of the dot-com boom, government managers regularly complained about their inability to compete with the private sector for the excitement and pay levels of the contractor jobs.
Now the table is turned, if in fact the “poaching” is as widespread as people are saying.  But is it really “poaching”?  That’s a loaded word.  It implies grabbing the innocent or the unaware, or using unfair tactics. Where to work and the offering of jobs are really personal choices by intelligent individuals.  In a competitive market it can seem like poaching.  But in the long run, each side, government and industry, has periods of holding the upper hand.
As long as government plays by the rules, why should the fast track to the other side run in only one direction?
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