Dear RTT Rules and others,
it should be pointed out that NASA actually does have in house engineers, in house computer programmers and other specialists, and it uses contractors for specialist supplies which it does not do inside.
I am not opposed to purchasing from outside contractors per se, but I am unimpressed when non specialist allegedly professional managers and project directors deliberately ignore advice, both in house and contractor, and then blame others for their own incompetence.
In the case of ARTC, the North East Broad to Standard gauge conversion is a case in point, where the track was left in a worse position after the conversion that it was beforehand. To compound this ARTC denied point blank there was a problem , when it was obvious to the users that there was a series of very serious problems, which are still being addressed, at great expense , to this day.
Your comment re the good old days where everything was done in house is actually not correct, outside suppliers were always used to varying degrees , in house was resorted to when outside supply proved to be problematic. ( And supply to Australia is still problematic, you need a replacement part from Europe, wait six months. )
To take another example, VicRoads used to organise the purchase of traffic signal cable based on the programme for the next twelve months, this enabled both the supplier to know in advance what VicRoads requires, and , in turn , VicRoads knew when the supply was available. Everyone , with advance knowledge , was happy. Now as every project is stand alone, signal cable is bought on an as required basis, therefore the cable supplier sells by the drum. Contractor buys the drum and will have an excess supply which exceeds his needs, guess who pays for this excess supply ? It is definitely not the contractor. I fail to see where this is preferable to the previous practice, all it does is cause waste and increases cots to the recipient.
The other outcome of this process is every Project ends up using a unique set of bits which is generally not compatible with the adjacent bits, For example London's Elizabeth Line / CrossRail has tunnel clearances two inches smaller than the clearances neither side of it, as well as incompatible signal systems to those on either side of it. Bear in mind that the intent of the Elizabeth Line is for through main line traffic from the West of England to the East of England, which has been achieved, but it has been achieved by delivering a smaller loading gauge than its feeder lines, and an incompatible signal system, and it was delivered late and way over budget.
In case you are wondering why the projected West of England to Amsterdam through service will not happen, one major reason is 13 incompatible signalling systems and four incompatible electric power systems. The cost of getting one train set to meet these requirements means that a through service is totally uneconomic. I also notice that the cost of rebuilding train sets to increase capacity on the Heathrow Express service includes GBP1m per set just for the ERTMS refit, the internal refurb and exterior relivery is additional to this. ( Makes one wonder if change over locos hauling carriages may be a better alternative after all. )
Regarding, no staff hanging around, this in practice means no staff to fix things when it goes pear shaped, Siemens train brings down overhead near Werribee, FOUR days later, train moved and overhead repaired, Siemens is based at Newport, the adjacent suburb ! When I worked on the VR a dewirement repair was usually done within 4 to 6 hours, now 4 DAYS seems to be the new norm; yep, that is a fantastic improvement NOT.
As you alluded, this also means that staff now work in short term contract spasms, which in practice means their income is unreliable, which means Banks will probably not lend them money for a mortgage because their income stream is unreliable. This result may be good for landlords, but is not much chop for renters wanting to own their own home.
On the Sandringham Line bustitution means a 27 minute journey will take up to ONE HOUR + 27 minutes to complete, another victory for efficient modern management. Then we have the Boeing 737 Max debacle, where it appears that the new software was never tested by Boeing Test Pilots on a Simulator, despite Boeing having access to both. The CEO's response, "safety is our first priority" Well, if that is the case, then two 737 Max planes probably would not have crashed. I note that Boeings CEO is not an aeronautical engineer, yet he "manages" a plane maker, which is based in Washington State, while he moved the Head Office from Seattle to Chicago. That worked well.