Privatizing Forest Service Jobs Would Cost More, Study Finds

A Bush administration plan to privatize hundreds of U.S. Forest Service jobs, from wildlife biologists to safety officers, would cost taxpayers more than continuing to pay federal employees, a new agency study has found. Under the Bush plan, as many as one-fourth of all 40,000 USFS jobs would be outsourced in the interest of “improving the cost-effectiveness” of the agency — but according to a study that looked at jobs in New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Texas and Oklahoma, private contractors would cost more than federal employees. The study’s authors found, among other things, that federal employees were a better bargain because they’re used to wearing many hats and working with tight budgets. The Bush administration is also studying the possibility of privatizing jobs within the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.