Washington —The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today offered thanks to conferees of the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization Bill for making, in a strong and bipartisan fashion, significant reforms to the Pentagon’s controversial privatization process, despite strong opposition from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Defense (DoD) and contractors. In response to the bill’s passage, AFGE issued the following statement:
“The new provision will ensure that DoD civilian employees have fair opportunities to compete before their work is given to contractors. In all cases involving functions of ten or more civilian employees, there will be no direct conversions to contractor performance without public-private job competitions; civilian employees will always be allowed to submit their most competitive bids, known as Most Efficient Organization plans; and contractors will always be required to at least promise to generate savings sufficient to offset the presumed and often significant costs of conducting privatization reviews. Additionally, this requirement will eliminate loopholes that have been used in the past to avoid competition by forbidding DoD from breaking up larger functions in order to get below the 10-employee threshold and designating functions as ‘new’ when they are performed by civilian employees.
“Although similar language has been included in previous versions of the Defense Appropriations Bill and in the fiscal 2006 Transportation-Treasury-HUD Appropriations Bill, the new measures in the defense authorization bill will be permanent law and an even stronger deterrent against work performed by civilian employees being given to contractors without fair and full public-private competitions.
“While this significant reform is good news for loyal government employees, we will not rest until this reform covers all federal agencies. If this reform is suitable for DoD, which is responsible for national security and conducts most service contracting, then it is suitable for all federal agencies.
“The conferees also directed DoD to come up with a plan to ensure that civilian employees are given opportunities to perform work that is contracted out or which would normally be given to contractors. Contractors acquire and retain almost all of their work without ever competing against federal employees; and all too frequently, without competing against other contractors. Ensuring that DoD uses civilian employees, instead of sole-source contractors, for at least some new work and contracted out work is a big present for taxpayers and war fighters.
“AFGE gives its thanks to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Senate Ranking Member Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and House Ranking Member Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). AFGE gives special thanks to its champions for bringing about these significant reforms. Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) teamed up for the second year in a row to include pro-competition language in the Senate bill; and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) led the fight in the House, again for the second year in a row. AFGE appreciates them for their stubborn determination to get the job done and for their considerable skills as lawmakers.”