WASHINGTON, DC--The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) won two significant victories in the U.S. Senate this week in the form of amendments to the 2005 defense authorization bill. In addition, a third such measure stands to benefit federal workers and the taxpayers they serve.
"Given the current climate of scrutiny, contractors knew they didn't have the votes to stop these amendments, which the federation strongly advocated," said AFGE National President John Gage. "However, when they get behind closed doors with their friends in the White House, these contractors could win a veto threat from the president, which would almost certainly derail these measures.
"In the meantime, federal employees can at least glean some satisfaction from the fact that the value of their work is winning renewed appreciation on both sides of the aisle," Gage continued. "However, our members will need to keep those calls and letters coming to their members of Congress once the bill goes into conference."
An amendment by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) requires the Pentagon to make formal cost studies when contracting out the work of 10 or more employees in the Department of Defense (DoD), and demands that "fair consideration" be given to DoD workers whose work is under consideration for outsourcing. The Kennedy-Chambliss amendment also requires the Pentagon to report to Congress next year with proof of adequate staff for the proper administration and oversight of defense contracts.
AFGE members also stand to benefit from another measure that would govern Pentagon contracts. With Defense contracts the subject of much current debate, problems with contract oversight--often conducted *not* by DoD employees, but by contractors--Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) sponsored a stipulation that would limit the oversight of Defense Department contracts to federal employees.
Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) added a measure advocated by AFGE that would grant appeal rights to employees whose jobs are slated for outsourcing as the result of a so-called "competitive sourcing" study. Up until now, contractors have been granted the right to appeal decisions made in favor of federal employees to the General Accounting Office, while employees have been denied the same right.