Issue Briefs

By Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post

By itself, a shift from outsourcing to insourcing would be bad news for government contractors but not necessarily for the Washington economy. After all, a job insourced from SRA International to the Transportation Department is still a local job.

Unless, of course, it isn’t. For at the same time that the government is restructuring how and where work is done, there’s a very real possibility that both the government and contractors will decide to shift work away from Washington. The reason: Thanks to all that recent growth, Washington is now a very expensive place for government and businesses to operate.

Even as some of the country’s biggest contractors (SAIC, CSC and Northrop) have moved their corporate headquarters to Washington, they have quietly shifted lower-level work out to take advantage of lower living costs and pay scales elsewhere in the country. Some, like CGI, have expanded into southwestern Virginia. Others have moved along with federal clients whose offices were transferred to other regions as part of the Defense Department’s base realignment process. As the number of contracts declines and contractors come under even more intense pricing pressure, it’s a good guess that even more work will be relocated.

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