Federal Govt Payroll Growing By the Millions

Since just 2002, the U.S. government has added 2.5 million new contractors to the national payroll   A new study by researcher Paul C. Light at N.Y.U. takes a look at the sweeping size and composition of the federal government’s workforce.  Christopher Lee of the Washington Post writes:

The federal government keeps getting bigger.

The Republican Party’s oft-stated affinity for smaller government has not applied during the Bush administration. According to a recent study, not only is the number of federal civil servants on the rise, but so are the numbers of employees working for government-funded contractors and for organizations that receive government grants.

Roll all of those together — and mix in the numbers of postal workers and military personnel on the federal payroll — and the “true size” of the federal government stands at 14.6 million employees, said Paul C. Light, the study’s author and a government professor at New York University.

That compares with 12.1 million employees in 2002, said Light, who has tracked the growth of government for years and has data for as far back as 1990. The latest increase is almost entirely due to contractors, whose ranks swelled by 2.5 million since 2002, Light wrote in his 10-page research brief.

According to Lee, Professor Light reports that most of this growth is related to the war on terror.  Of course, maintaining a payroll of this size is overall bad news for taxpayers, but at least using private sector contractors offers the possibility of more flexible and performance-based workforce.