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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Could We Outsource Congress?

Carolina Miranda reports that in 2013, it will cost taxpayers an estimated $260 million to maintain the Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Many American firms have found they can increase profits and productivity by outsourcing tasks – sometimes abroad, and sometimes locally – to subcontractors. So if it makes sense for companies, could it make sense for other sometimes less-than-productive ventures, like Congress? A Time magazine contributor makes that “modest proposal” in a tongue-in-cheek column.

“It came from a very real anger at the ineffectiveness that we see in Congress,” journalist Carolina Miranda told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “I am an independent contractor, I am a freelancer. I don’t get benefits, I don’t have a pension, I don’t have my own capitol security police force protecting me. So there’s this real sense that sometimes the folks that have been voted into Congress don’t really lead the lives that the average American leads.”

Outsourcing consultant Jagdish Dalal said one small example of something Congress could outsource is the printing of reports. In her piece for Time, Miranda reported that the legislative branch would spend $118 million on printing in 2012.

Dalal also suggested turning the U.S. Capitol building into a hotel.

“That might be a profit-generating idea,” Dalal said. “They can work from home. They can use Skype and use technology that we all tend to use in the industry, and stay and work from their own office.”

Miranda had a more drastic outsourcing proposal.

“Pink slip them all,” Miranda said. “Send it off to Costa Rica.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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