Skip to comments.Taking Aim At Outsourcing - Congress Moves To Blunt Bush Plan
Posted on 07/23/2002 8:37:30 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
President Bushs push to subject 425,000 federal jobs to contractor competition by the end of his term is headed for a showdown with Congress this week, lawmakers and administration officials say.
Both the House and Senate are expected to vote this week on a measure to remove White House goals for how many jobs agencies must consider transferring to contractors. In both chambers, backers say the measure has enough support to pass as part of the fiscal 2003 Treasury appropriations bill.
Meanwhile, White House officials say they will recommend that Bush veto any legislation that contains such a provision.
The brewing fight is over one of the cornerstones of Bushs management agenda known as competitive sourcing. This refers to the process in which an agency studies its operations and determines through public-private competitions and cost studies which is the most efficient way to perform those operations: in-house federal employees or contractors.
The presidents management agenda, released last August, outlined goals for agencies to meet in their competitive sourcing programs. Ultimately, the administration said it wants to open 50 percent of such positions the equivalent of 425,000 federal jobs to contractor competition by the end of Bushs term.
"The administration strongly opposes these anticompetitive proposals," an Office of Management and Budget official told Federal Times on July 18. "[OMB Director] Mitch Daniels said on Friday [July 12] that he would recommend a veto since this is too important a program with too much progress left to make to shut down."
The effort to kill the competition goals is actively supported and shepherded by federal unions. The Senate Appropriations Committee July 16 approved the Treasury appropriations bill that included the provision to remove the targets. The provision was sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
The amendment has the backing of 25 Democrats and one Independent member in the Senate.
Those 26 senators had asked Dorgan in a June 7 letter to introduce the amendment to overturn the competitive sourcing targets. Dorgan heads the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Treasury and general government. "We are particularly concerned that a continued reliance on these arbitrary, quantitative targets to make federal sourcing decisions will not only yield counterproductive results in many instances but will also undermine federal recruiting efforts and weaken the civil service as a whole," the senators said.
A House version of the amendment introduced July 9 by Rep. James Moran, D-Va., before the House Appropriations Committee was defeated when that committee marked up its own version of the Treasury appropriations bill.
Moran told Federal Times in a July 18 interview that he would bring it to the House floor this week. Moran said he has been working at building bipartisan support for the amendment and recruited 20 Republicans in support of the amendment.
Reps. Connie Morella, R-Md., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., have co-sponsored the amendment. Another Republican, Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, also is expected to support the amendment.
"Were definitely going to win," Moran told Federal Times.
John Threlkeld, a lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union and an opponent of the competitive sourcing targets, said he is not surprised the Dorgan and Moran measures are attracting support in Congress.
"Most believe that agencies should be free to manage," he said.
Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an Arlington, Va.-based association that represents contractors, contends that without targets there will be little incentive for agencies to subject federal jobs to competition.
"This is the unions attempt to stop competition," Soloway said.
Gary Engebretson, president of the Contract Services Association of America, a Rosslyn, Va.-based association representing contractors, also took aim at the amendment.
"It is a clear attempt to blindside the efforts of the administration and to bring the current contracting process to a halt," Engebretson said in a statement.