Rally timed to Social Security talks

They argued that the plan would hurt millions of widows, seniors and those with low incomes and disabilities.
Under the proposal, younger Americans could divert a portion of their income, subject to Social Security taxes, into personal accounts in exchange for a reduction in their guaranteed benefit.
The plan would overhaul the Social Security system, which is expected to become severely strained in coming decades as the massive baby-boomer generation reaches retirement and draws benefits.
But so far there has been substantial opposition to the privatization idea, especially among Democrats and seniors.
"I'm not going to have enough money in my account to support privatization," said Anne Kim, a Kent resident and single mother. "I barely make enough to pay for rent, utilities and day care."
A couple of months after Bush started touting the privatization idea, the Senate Finance Committee yesterday began hearings on four Social Security plans, three of which include individual or private accounts.
Reichert has not taken a position, and constituents at the rally urged him to oppose privatization.
"It hurts my generation, but it would be disastrous for the future generation," said Kathleen Unmuth, 79, of Bellevue. "I hope he'll listen to us."
"He's continuing to look at all the options on the table," said Heather Janik, Reichert's press secretary. "He's open to hearing everyone's opinion."
"Those who want to privatize Social Security cannot explain how workers and their families will survive" in the case of a disability or death, said Steve Kofahl, a clerk for the Social Security Administration who has been speaking against the plan on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees. "Families and Washington state taxpayers will be left to pick up the tab."
The Senate Finance Committee has said it plans to vote on a Social Security plan by June or July.


Get more firms to compete for federal jobs, OMB says


Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, is pressing managers to design bigger federal job competitions, and with more collaboration with contractors, in order to generate more contractor participation.
“The more competition, the greater the savings,” Johnson told Federal Times. “So it’s a real advantage to the agencies to have good competition.”
A new report to be released soon by OMB details how half of the A-76 competitions held to date have failed to draw competitive bids from the private sector. The result of this, Johnson said, is that federal employees end up with a lopsided record of victories: About 90 percent of the work agencies compete is won by federal employees.
“If the private sector was winning 90 percent of the competitions, there’d be rioting in the streets,” Johnson said.
Johnson said agencies can take several steps to increase outside participation in federal job competitions:
• Focus on larger competitions, which provide more financial incentive to companies.
• Outline the work to be done but allow companies to determine the best way to do it.
• Provide companies with drafts of work to be competed and use their input to make the competitions more lucrative.
“We can be more interactive, more collaborative with the private sector, just like we can be more collaborative with the inside groups that are bidding as well,” Johnson said. “It’s got to be a level playing field. It’s got to work both ways.”
Much of what the administration is proposing is standard practice in the procurement world and would benefit job competitions, said Stan Soloway, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Professional Services Council, which represents government contractors.
Under the A-76 process, agencies already can reach out to private-sector companies to help them structure larger job competitions that would be more lucrative to bidders. Soloway said agencies need to think more strategically about how they can use the job competition process to improve the mission of their organizations.
Competing two or four jobs isn’t going to generate a lot of interest from the private sector or do much to improve the agency’s bottom line, he said.
“In most competitions, there is no competition,” Soloway said. “We all know that competition is what drives maximum performance and innovation.”
John Threlkeld, a lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees, said the administration appears interested only in increasing the amount of federal work outsourced to private contractors.
He points to numerous examples of how agencies have circumvented public-private competitions to push more work to the private sector. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, for instance, contracted with a private firm to open a call center without allowing federal employees currently doing this work to compete.
“We think Mr. Johnson’s complaints about lack of competition in the process is extremely selective and is only an attempt to generate more private-sector competition,” Threlkeld said. “They talk a lot about how they believe in competition, but it’s really only about competition that would benefit their contractor constituents.”


Feds Want To Review KC's Logistics Support Center Again
Government Has Already Spent $1 Million To Review Local Warehouse
POSTED: 10:27 am CDT April 26, 2005
UPDATED: 11:10 am CDT April 26, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A government project based in Kansas City that supports several key services is on the chopping block.
The National Logistics Support Center provides replacement gear for services like the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill. When its gear, or the equipment at any weather service operation in the world breaks down, the support center is called.
"We are the only warehouse in the country that does what we do," said David Saale of the National Logistics Support Center.

The center also ships equipment to the Department of Agriculture testing centers.
"For animal testing such as mad cow disease and other problems that they have with animals," Saale said.

But KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported that some people in the Commerce Department wonder if private business can beat the warehouse's certified 99 percent efficiency rate. Already the government has spent $1 million to look at the warehouse, which resulted in no decision.

"People quite a ways up the chain have tried to stop this without any success," Saale said.
Mahoney reported that senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent, along with Rep. Ike Skelton and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver have told the Commerce Department the review is unwise. However, Washington officials just announced they will take another look at the same operation on April 30.

Commerce Department officials said that the review of the Kansas City warehouse is part of a governmentwide project to see if some services can be contracted out to private business.

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