(Washington, D.C.)—“The use of the term ‘competitive sourcing’ to describe OMB’s arbitrary privatization quotas betrays either bias or ignorance,” Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will state in upcoming testimony before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, March 19, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 228 of the Russell Senate Office Building.
“Agencies are still being forced to review for privatization, regardless of their needs and missions, tens of thousands of federal employee jobs, either with or without public-private competition,” Harnage will add. In his testimony, the union leader will provide his own thoughts on how to reform the OMB numerical privatization quotas so that agencies can establish non-numerical, agency-specific, equitable sourcing goals.
Harnage will compare OMB’s rewrite of Circular A-76 to the Army’s discredited “Third Wave,” which was designed to review for privatization without any public-private competition at least 210,000 federal and military personnel.
“Like the ‘Third Wave,’ the A-76 rewrite would emphasize privatization to the exclusion of all other methods of making the provision for federal services more effective, efficient and reliable,” Harnage will add. “Unlike even the ‘Third Wave,’ the A-76 rewrite would include an explicit bias towards privatization, would ‘rewrite’ through a mere circular the law that defines ‘inherently governmental’ to make it easier to contract out inherently governmental work, does not include an inventory to track the work performed by contractors, and would subject almost exclusively only activities performed by federal employees to review.”
Harnage will point out that under the A-76 rewrite, federal employees—but not contractors—must compete to perform new work; must compete when they are doing exactly the same work as before, but the value of that work increases by as little as 30 percent; and must compete to continue to perform work when their contracts expire, or the agencies may simply give such work away to contractors through direct conversions.
Harnage will also discuss the threat to eliminate the depots and arsenals as well as the possible reintroduction of the Service Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), which would encourage agencies to engage in indiscriminate use of share-in-savings contracting.
“This form of contracting has been criticized for locking agencies into long-term contracts that prevent shifting to superior contract or in-house options,” Harnage will conclude. “Moreover, according to testimony from OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Angela Styles, although in existence for more than 25 years, share-in-savings contracts have not produced any savings. Finally, the use of share-in-savings is indisputably anti-public-private competition and clearly promotes privatizing the jobs of federal employees, without giving them a chance to compete.”