Overall, the difference between the contractors’ cost and the estimated State Department cost ranged from about $3 million for one task order to over $785 million for the contract.
See Table 1 on page 6 for a cost comparison for one contract and four task orders using a one‐to‐one ratio of deployed to stateside employees.
GAO did note that contract requirements are a major factor in determining whether contractors or government personnel are less expensive — especially factors such as whether personnel need security clearances.
For instance, unless the State Department specifies a need for personnel with security clearances — which are generally not available to non-U.S. citizens — contractors typically choose to employ a large percentage of third‐country nationals and local nationals to lower contract cost. For example, the contractor providing embassy security in Baghdad employed a large percentage of third‐country nationals and local nationals (about 89 percent), whose lower wages contributed to the lower cost of the contract. In contrast, our comparison of the task order for providing personal security for State Department employees while in the Baghdad region — which required personnel that have security clearances — showed that for this task order, the State Department’s estimated annual cost would have been about $240 million, whereas the contractor charged approximately $380 million for 1 year.
And when using contractors, the department also incurs administrative costs for awarding the task orders and contract and providing oversight; however, the State Department was unable to estimate these costs. These costs can vary depending on the complexity and sensitivity of the contract. For example, according to State Department officials, the Baghdad Embassy contract provides static security at a fixed site which requires less oversight than the Worldwide Personal Protective Services II contracts which provide for the protective security of U.S. government officials and other individuals traveling in unsecured areas in theatre.
This does not definitively settle the debate as there were some things GAO did not look at such as whether the quality of the services provided by the contractors or whether better services could be provided by the State Department. It also did not evaluate the policy implications of using contractors to perform security functions.
Yet when you look at the availability of bodies for security functions it becomes clear why the State Department will continue to rely on private security contractors. GAO notes: