The House of Representatives rejected, in strong, bipartisan fashion, an amendment to strike Section 738 of the FY08 Financial Services Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2829).
Section 738 includes longstanding language establishing a public-private competition requirement before work performed by federal employees can be given to a contractor that was first enacted in FY06. Identical language has been in the Defense Appropriations Bill since FY04.
Section 738 includes new language that excludes health care and retirement costs from the contracting out cost comparison process so that contractors don’t obtain an unfair advantage by providing employees with inadequate benefits, based on longstanding language in the Defense Appropriations Bill since FY05.
Section 738 also includes new language that would ensure federal employees have the same right to appeal to the Government Accountability Office botched and biased contracting out decisions that contractors have long enjoyed, based on legislation drafted by then Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Susan Collins (R-ME).
Finally, Section 738 includes new language that would ensure agencies can make their own decisions about how many federal employees to review for privatization, which employees to review for privatization, and when to do so, instead of having those decisions dictated by political appointees at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Congress took strong action in FY03 to eliminate the OMB privatization quotas, and OMB officials ostensibly repudiated the use of quotas, but OMB quotas, without any research or analysis or demonstration that the quotas are consistent with agencies’ mission, still drive the privatization process across the federal government.
All four provisions are steeped in precedents and consensus. In fact, all four provisions were included in the FY08 House Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 1585) that passed the House on May 17. These provisions were included with no opposition, either in committee or on the floor.
“We thank the Democratic and Republican lawmakers who rejected an amendment that would have eliminated so many valuable reforms, particularly House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jose Serrano (D-NY),” declared AFGE National President. “In locking in the House’s position with this vote, pro-reform lawmakers will be in a much stronger position going into conference on both the FY08 Defense Authorization Bill and the FY08 Financial Services Appropriations Bill.”
An earlier pro-contractor amendment to the FY08 House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to strike a provision prohibiting the use of the costly and controversial OMB Circular A-76 process in the Corps of Engineers failed, on June 19, by a vote of 29-164.