There are concerns that the federal government contracts with bad contractors which violate international core labor standards (e.g., freedom of association, right to bargain collectively as well as prohibitions against severe forms of human trafficking and child labor) as well as various civil and political rights. Many of these scofflaw contractors are based overseas. Scofflaw contracting is believed to be a particular problem in these five areas: apparel, agriculture, electronics, mineral extraction, and logistical and security support abroad.
Some have said that that the federal procurement process should be used to promote compliance with core labor standards by denying government contracts to scofflaws, or at least making it more difficult for such contractors to get contracts. Other say that federal procurement is difficult and complicated enough already and that an under-resourced acquisition workforce should focus on awarding contracts and supervising contractors, leaving enforcement of international core labor standards to the relevant authorities.
Purely from an acquisition standpoint, AFGE needs to be involved in this debate to ensure that any changes to the procurement process take into account the needs of the acquisition personnel represented by this union. Neither side in this debate seems well-informed about the day-to-day responsibilities of federal rank-and-file acquisition personnel. Even the most well-intentioned reforms aren’t going to work if they cannot be easily implemented. That’s why it is so important that the voice of the real acquisition workforce be heard in this debate.
If you are a member of the federal government’s acquisition workforce, will you please take the time to respond, in as much or as little detail as you can, to these questions? Ideally, please provide in your email, your name, your agency, and what acquisition work you do. If you’d prefer not to provide your name or want your response to remain confidential, that’s fine, please just let us know. We would like to eventually offer AFGE’s views in writing to interested parties, but we will not attribute the views expressed in the report to specific members by name.