The federal government has about 2 million employees, a number that has held remarkably steady for years, but many more people than that are paid to work for Uncle Sam. In 2015, those core employees were joined by 3.7 million contractors, who now make up the largest part of the federal workforce. And that’s a concern for Paul C. Light of New York University, author of a new study, “The True Size of Government.”
Light says that the government now has a “blended” workforce that includes public servants, contractors, grant recipients, military personnel and postal employees. Add all of these up, and the federal workforce sits at about 9 million.
Light’s concern is that the workforce is too large and complicated to control. And as the workforce grows, it tends to serve its own interests. Speaking to The Washington Post, he said that the real danger “comes from the pressure to maintain and expand missions that are primarily for the benefit of one or more parts of the blended workforce and not necessarily for the benefit of the public.”