June 29, 2005
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

AFGE Urges House To Vote Yes To Van Hollen Amendment

(Washington)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) strongly urges House lawmakers to vote for an amendment to be offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to the FY06 Transportation-Treasury-HUD Appropriations Bill that would ensure that the controversial Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76 privatization process is rewritten to make it more fair to federal employees and more accountable to taxpayers.

Thanks to strong bipartisan support, the House of Representatives has passed this amendment to the FY04 and FY05 funding measures. Two years ago, lawmakers participating in the House-Senate conferences agreed to make significant reforms to the A-76 privatization process by giving federal employees the same right to appeal agencies’ contracting out decisions to the Government Accountability Office that has long been enjoyed by contractors. The conferees also agreed to allow federal employees to submit their most competitive bids before their work was given to contractors and to require that contractors at least promise savings sufficient to pay for privatization reviews before taking work from federal employees. Last year, conferees agreed to take contracting out safeguards in the FY05 Defense Appropriations Act, which had already been signed into law, and apply them to all federal agencies.

“Unfortunately, OMB officials intervened at the last minute both times, and threatening to veto the funding measures, forced conferees to scuttle these bipartisan compromises,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “However, opposition to OMB’s privatization effort continues to grow.” OMB officials demanded earlier this year that the House Appropriations Committee strip five different anti-privatization provisions that had been included in last year’s funding measures. Not only were those provisions retained without controversy, but five additional anti-privatization provisions were passed by the House this year, again without controversy, one in an appropriations bill and four others in the defense authorization bill.

“The bipartisan success of the Van Hollen Amendment also sends a strong and unmistakable signal to senior managers at all federal agencies that OMB’s privatization effort is controversial, unpopular, and important only to a few political appointees at OMB, and that they should proceed accordingly,” Gage added.

“While the political appointees at OMB and their contractor cronies wield tremendous power, AFGE and its members welcome this opportunity to debate the obvious inequities and documented problems in the OMB Circular A-76 privatization process,” Gage said.

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