(Washington, D.C.)—“The panel has proven to be little more than an elaborate public relations exercise, something to give the Administration’s efforts to gut the civil service and replace hundreds of thousands of reliable and experienced federal employees with politically well-connected contractors a patina of respectability,” Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will tell lawmakers at a hearing to be held before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Readiness on June 26th at 2 pm in room 2212 of the Rayburn Office Building.
“The big contractor faction was unable to make a case for junking OMB Circular A-76, let alone for replacing it with a controversial and unproven FAR-based subjective public–private competition process,” Harnage will state. “They cannot deny that this process may take longer and thus cost more than competitions currently conducted under the circular. The shift to a FAR-based best value process is based on the big contractor faction’s determination to impose a more pro-contractor process, rather than an effort to improve the quality of government services.”
“When presented with opportunities to undertake measures that would actually improve sourcing practices, the big contractor faction ran in the other direction,” Harnage will add. ”No specific changes are proposed dealing with tracking contractor costs. The big contractor faction refused to close loopholes allowing work to be contracted out without any public-private competition and stubbornly opposed efforts to strengthen the federal government’s acquisition workforce.”
“The big contractor faction played a classic game of bait-and-switch, asking the pro-taxpayer faction to support certain principles in order to provide the panel with an air of unanimity while crafting a narrow and parochial recommendation that failed to pay even lip service to the principles,” Harnage will emphasize. “And in several cases, the Bush Administration has already indicated that it will defy the principles that its representatives on the panel supposedly supported.”
“I know I wasn’t asked, but I have, all modesty aside, crafted the perfect advertising slogan for the introduction of a FAR-based best value process: “FAR: COSTS MORE—TAKES LONGER,” Harnage will conclude. He will urge passage of the Allen-Andrews Amendment which would ensure that more of DoD’s commercial work, whether it be performed by federal employees or by contractors, is subject to full and fair public-private competition under a truly objective process that promotes the best interests of taxpayers.