Thanks to Brinda Sarathy for this presentation, and also to Char Miller for sending. It is interesting and possibly serendipitous that we are discussing our future workforce- what happens when the FS either doesn’t have enough money to, or is forced into the ideological trap of, contracting.
If “the problem” is “federal employees take too long to get and cost too much (to paraphrase critiquest of planning), we have different solutions. Solutions include contracting, volunteers, concessionaires, and just reducing management (say dispersed recreation).
Even within contracting, though, there are contractors who follow federal laws (labor and immigration) and those who don’t. And it appears that the law-abiding are disadvantaged.. not IMHO a particularly desirable public policy.
I watched Brinda’s entire lecture and reflected on the time period I remember, when we were gradually changing from force account work to contracted work, for tree planting and cone collecting. I know many of the blog readers were also involved in this work in the same time period. I’m hoping that you will add your own views and historic perspectives.
There are so many interesting questions that her work raises; here are some of mine, feel free to add yours in the comments:
1) What agency’s responsibility is it to ensure that immigration and labor laws are being followed? Why or why not are those agencies doing their job?
2)Which laws that the FS must follow do contractors have to follow? For example, do they have to do diverse hiring? Is anyone checking on that? Presumably contractors are more “efficient”; how exactly do they get to be more “efficient”, by paying their workers below minimum wage, not having the same requirements as federal employees or ? (this is really the same question as about concessionaires, isn’t it?)
3) The spatial scale of benefits and 8A set-asides: if, as Brinda’s graph seems to show MOST contractors in southern Oregon in the ecosystem services business are Hispanic..so should they still qualify for a set-aside? Should set asides be more flexible based on the specific kind of contract and the spatial scale?
Brinda mentions as a recommendation using “best value” contracting. Previously on the blog here, we cited this FS letter (Ron Hooper, 2007) on best value contracting that used the language from the 2006 Approps Bill on local workers:
n evaluating bids and proposals, give consideration to
local contractors who are from, and who provide employment and training for, dislocated and displaced workers in an economically disadvantaged rural community, including those historically timber-dependent areas that have been affected by reduced timber harvesting on Federal lands and other forest-dependent rural communities isolated from significant alternative employment opportunities:
4) Has this letter made a difference? Why or why not?
One thing I wanted to mention about her point on Paul Bunyan (apologies for my X treme-pedantic observation)- actually some people (based on this note from Wikipedia) think the character originated as a French-Canadian, I guess which would make him a “white” male but not a US citizen.
Here’s the link to Brinda’s presentation.
Note: I started a new category called “Workforce” for this multifaceted topic of “how the work is to be done.”