Washington—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) appreciates the leadership of Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) in forcing the Congress to examine yet another inequity in the notorious Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76 privatization review process: An automatic recompetition requirement that applies only to work performed by federal employees.
The A-76 circular imposes no automatic public-private recompetition requirement on winning contractors upon the expiration of their contracts. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) gives ordinary contracting officers substantial discretion in determining whether winning contractors should be required to compete against other contractors when their original contracts expire. Under the A-76 circular, however, only an agency’s Competitive Sourcing Official (CSO), the most senior A-76 official, can override the automatic recompetition requirement—and even then the CSO can only postpone it for three years, not eliminate it. Representative Tauscher included a provision in the House FY07 Defense Authorization Bill that requires the Department of Defense (DoD) and OMB to explain this inequity.
A recompetition may not be the best approach to take when the performance period expires for a winning in-house workforce. Privatization reviews can cost as much as $40,000 for every federal employee reviewed. Consequently, AFGE believes agencies shouldn’t be forced to conduct privatization reviews merely for bureaucratic exercise.
Additionally, there may be situations in which no additional competition is necessary because the in-house workforce is performing so well. An example is the vehicle maintenance team at Travis Air Force Base (AFB), which won its A-76 review in 2001. The vehicle maintenance team has exceeded the customer satisfaction goal established in the original solicitation and broken the Air Mobility Command standards for aircrew and taxi response times as well as percentage of vehicles that need additional maintenance.
“Despite our tremendous record, Air Force officials insist that their hands are tied and that they have no choice but to automatically subject our work to another privatization review,” said John Santry, the AFGE Local President at Travis AFB. “If we were contractors, there would be no A-76 automatic recompetition requirement, and contracting officers could use their discretion under the FAR to not automatically recompete us. It’s wrong to hold federal employees to one standard and contractors to another. And at a time when every dollar counts, it’s wasteful to spend money on a privatization review of a workforce that has proven itself to be the best in the Air Force.”