(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Lower courts have ruled that federal employees do not have the right to initiate or participate in legal action (standing) in a court of law in challenging final agency contracting out decisions. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) contends that affected federal workers do have standing as individuals and through their unions. AFGE’s position is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
On October 22, 2001, a Petition for Certiorari
(No. 01-664) was filed by AFGE in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of July 23, 2001, in the case of AFGE v. United States, 258 F.3d 1294 (Fed. Cir. 2001).
In AFGE v. United States, the Federal Circuit decided that Local 1482, and its bargaining unit employees who worked at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) facility in Barstow, Calif., were not “interested parties” and lacked prudential standing under the statute that now controls the filing of court challenges to contract awards made pursuant to OMB Circular A-76. The case affects approximately 100 workers.
In this case, DLA awarded a contract for the operation of a warehouse to EG&G—a private contractor. AFGE came into court with facts that showed that, in the public/private competition held pursuant to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, the agency’s Most Efficient Organization (MEO)—in this case the bargaining unit employees—was the more cost efficient bidder and should have been awarded the contract.
Under the current A-76 appeals process, only a private contractor has a right to multiple appeals and judicial reviews. Over the past year, AFGE has taken five cases to court—providing documented irregularities totaling tens-of-millions-of-dollars with the process—only to be handed rulings that neither AFGE nor federal employees have standing as individuals.
A bill is also pending in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2227) that would give Department of Defense (DoD) federal employees the same rights as contractors, including standing in the courts. The bill would specifically amend title 10, United States Code, to give appeal rights to DoD employees with respect to actions or determinations under OMB A-76.
AFGE is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal workers in the United States and overseas, as well as employees of the District of Columbia. For a copy of the Petition or to learn more about AFGE, log onto www.afge.org.