Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors is the title of a very interesting piece of research. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading it on your own but a quick summary- The US government spends 2x as much on contractors then it would if it had a federal employee do the work. (in some cases a little less but still more than even)
It does not look at archaeologists but it does make me wonder, does contract archaeology cost the government more the if they just hired more archaeologists? I know lots of archaeologists in the UK thought the system of government run units was better. That might be wishful thinking on their part.
I have to say I am a bit torn. As a taxpayer I don’t like my money being wasted but as someone who has benefited from being a contractor….. eh. Maybe in the long run less money wasted would mean more archaeology jobs, maybe.