WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today denounced efforts to establish a so-called “Government Transformation Commission” for overhauling the executive branch.
In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Cox urged lawmakers to reject the Government Transformation Initiative’s proposal to establish a seven-member commission of private sector management consultants, who would recommend proposals for remaking executive branch agencies.
“Before Congress agrees to cede its role in deciding which agencies and programs to authorize and what level of funding it considers adequate for efficient and effective operation and delivery of services, I urge you to consider that there is nothing any commission could recommend that cannot also be accomplished through normal, democratic processes,” Cox testified.
The powers behind this proposal are government contractors and contractor pressure groups that have waged a relentless campaign to dismantle our nation’s most popular and successful government programs – Social Security and Medicare – and impose extreme austerity measures like sequestration on the government.
“These purveyors of austerity and social insurance cutbacks like to insist that their motivation is the interest of future generations,” Cox testified. “However, the policies they push have left more children in poverty, left more parents unemployed and hopeless for their future, more schools without adequate numbers of teachers and other educational resources, cutbacks in Head Start, childcare assistance, and more.”
The core recommendation outlined in GTI’s May 1 white paper is to remake government operations on the model of private firms: at will employment to replace the civil service, pay systems that favor individuals and reallocate salary dollars to the top at the expense of employees in lower grades, and an ethos of doing things fast and cheap.
Ironically, these reform proposals actually run counter to best practices in the private sector in two important ways: they would take away managers’ flexibility in making procurement decisions and force outsourcing, regardless of risk, cost or law; and they would force federal agencies to accept the recommendations of management consultants, regardless of whether the agencies believe the suggested changes are in the best interest of the programs they manage.
Cox said it is clear that the commission’s agenda will involve fewer rights for federal employees, fewer safeguards that protect the operation of government from political interference, more costly and unaccountable outsourcing and privatization, and a diminution in both quantity and quality of services provided to the public.
“It is a profoundly undemocratic initiative that would minimize the role of elected officials and maximize the power of corporate special interests operating behind the scenes to advance their agenda of contracting out, reallocation of salary dollars away from middle and lower graded employees, a reduction in civil service protections and collective bargaining rights, and the constriction of government programs, services, agencies, and access.”