November 16, 2005
Jemarion Jones
(202) 639-6405

AFGE Enlists Congressional Help to Fight Voice of America Outsourcing Plan

Washington—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is fighting back on behalf of federal employees against a decision by the Voice of America (VOA) to outsource American jobs to Hong Kong. AFGE has enlisted members of Congress to look into the suspicious outsourcing process VOA used to transfer the jobs overseas and demand information that documents the rationale for the outsourcing decision.

Under the VOA’s plan, English language news-writing jobs currently performed by Americans would be given to Chinese contractors. The VOA is attempting to outsource these jobs through a controversial streamlined outsourcing process.

“The VOA is clearly attempting to take away American jobs behind the taxpayer’s back,” says AFGE National President John Gage. “It’s a sneaky, suspicious process and not what you would expect from a venerable organization like the VOA.”

Under the streamlined process, the VOA does not have to consider the employee’s most competitive bid and contractors do not have to guarantee sufficient savings to offset the cost of conducting the outsourcing review.

AFGE has enlisted members of Congress to weigh in on the matter. In a letter to VOA Director David Jackson, Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged the VOA to be as “transparent as possible concerning the information used in reaching the final decision [to outsource federal jobs].” Sen. Sarbanes, along with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), also demanded documentation for the VOA’s outsourcing decision including but not limited to the following:
  • An explanation as to why the impacted employees were not provided with the justification for the outsourcing decision, as required by the OMB Circular A-76.
  • A full description of the market research used by VOA to determine the cost of private sector performance, including a comparison of the personnel costs for the in-house workforce and the private sector workforce.
  • A full list of the items included in the cost of private sector performance, including new hire training costs; cost of background checks for new employees; and start-up costs of moving the news-writing jobs to Hong Kong.
  • The documents created during the preliminary planning, as described in the OMB Circular A-76.
“It doesn’t make sense that the VOA wants non-Americans in a foreign country to write copy for English news broadcasts and taxpayer dollars to provide jobs for non-citizens,” says Gage. “AFGE is grateful to the members of Congress for heeding our concerns about the VOA’s outsourcing scheme and will continue to pressure the VOA into ending its attempt to replace hard working federal employees with inexperienced foreign contractors.”

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