The Army’s “Third Wave,” with plans to contract out as many as 214,000 military and civilian positions to focus more of the military’s resources on national defense, has been indefinitely suspended due to Army Secretary White’s recent departure. The plan would have looked at the jobs of 58,727 military personnel and 154,910 civilian employees who perform such support functions as accounting, legal counsel, maintenance and communications. It was developed so that the “Army could focus its energies and talents on core competencies — functions we perform better than anyone else — and seek to obtain other needed products or services from the private sector where it makes sense.” Of course the union is pleased with this development, since they were always strong critics of the plan from the beginning and dismissed it as “a thinly veiled attempt to do away with their jobs only to benefit defense contractors.” John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, said recently that the Pentagon should abandon the Third Wave altogether. While the Third Wave has hit a roadblock, competitive sourcing is likely to continue at the Department of Defense and the Army.
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.