After Intense Lobbying by AFGE Activists, Sen. Byrd Declares Department of Energy Jobs "Inherently Governmental"
(Morgantown, W.Va.) – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D – W.Va.) protected hundreds of employees in the Department of Energy’s, (DoE) National Energy Technology Laboratory, (NETL) from a costly and controversial privatization review. Sen. Byrd included a provision, section 6201, in the supplemental appropriations bill, H.R. 2206, declaring federal employees of NETL “inherently governmental” and free from privatization review.
“We commend Sen. Byrd for standing with the employees of the National Energy Technology Laboratory,” said John Gage AFGE national president. “His work allows the employees to concentrate on fulfilling the mission of the agency, instead of worrying about needless privatization reviews.”
The laboratory, which is federally owned and operated, serves America’s increasing energy needs by improving the environmental acceptability of energy production, enhancing energy security, and increasing the competitiveness of U.S. energy systems. More than 600 federal employees across West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Alaska and Oklahoma work at the laboratory’s various locations.
Although half of NETL’s workforce is already contracted, DoE management, under pressure from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), was prepared to subject hundreds of NETL employees to privatization reviews under the questionable OMB Circular A-76 process. The legislation introduced by Sen. Byrd preemptively killed the privatization reviews, including a significant A-76 review previously underway at the Albany, Ore. location.
The language added to the appropriations bill by Chairman Byrd, “Hereafter, Federal employees at the National Energy Technology Laboratory shall be classified as inherently governmental for the purpose of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998,” was signed into law by President Bush on Friday, May 25 . Although a part of the appropriations package the language will not be subject to annual renewal.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.