Everyone who deals with hiring employees knows that the actual cost of an employee is much more than that worker’s base salary. The latest issue of Serviam Magazine, a sort of trade mag for the private security contractor sector, runs this article:
A base pay of $165,000 per year is a lot of money for most people, especially to a soldier. It’s no wonder that some military professionals aspire to become highly paid private security contractors (PSCs), and that others will simply resent them for earning these high wages.
Compared with the basic pay of an active duty E-6 staff sergeant with 10 years of service, the cash compensation of a top-end PSC is a small fortune. Some critics are outraged that a high-end contractor is paid nearly five times as much as that of an E-6. The contracting system, they say, is unfair to the troops and is a rip-off of the taxpayer. For every one contractor, the reasoning goes, the U.S. could pay for five staff sergeants.
That might make sense if the compensation systems were similar. But they aren’t.
Keep in mind that the magazine is a vocally pro-PSC publication, but take a look at the numbers and let me know what you think.
Here is a table showing what they’re talking about:
Click for a larger view. One major question I have is about “Health Care”. My understand of the military health care system is limited, and I know next to nothing about how the US government actually pays private security contractors for service or how the firms pay their employees. But I question the zero dollar amount listed as Noncash Benefits for contractor Health Care. If someone more knowledgeable could clear that up a bit I’d sure appreciate it.
Another thing about this comparison is that it is focused on the “take home” pay of a soldier vs. that of a contractor. That’s all well and good, but when discussing the role of private contractors working with/for the military, isn’t the actual cash cost to the government more important than the amount of cash that ends up in each individual’s pocket?
For all of those zeros listed under the contractor’s take home, you know that there are some hefty non-zero costs that the government ends up covering. How many and how much, I can’t even begin to guess.
So while I’m sure that the actual cost to the government isn’t as lopsided as is generally presented by critics, I’m also pretty sure that private contractors aren’t quite the bargain this table makes them out to be.
I’d sure love to hear from those who know more about this. If you have some info that you’d rather not have published, drop me an email. Or, as usual, feel free to post comments here on the post.
Contractors are a major issue these days, and not just because of the sensationalized stories about trigger crazy loose cannons shooting up the neighborhood. It would be refreshing to have a fair, rational look at the topic so some good decisions can be made. I’m not holding my breath.