(WASHINGTON) – The nation’s largest federal employee union, AFGE, announced, today, that activists in the AFGE Defense Conference (DEFCON) are holding demonstrations at Department Logistics Agency Supply Centers in Columbus, Ohio and Richmond, VA, and at the West Point Military Academy to draw attention to the controversial use of outsourcing studies within the Department of Defense (DoD).
Working with congressional leaders like Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who introduced legislation this spring, AFGE is ramping up its efforts to permanently stop waste, fraud, and abuse in government contracting. On April 21, 2009, Sen. Mikulski introduced The Correction of Longstanding Errors in Agencies’ Unsustainable Procurements (CLEAN UP) Act. The legislation builds on provisions signed into law as part of the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which indefinitely suspended A-76 privatization studies and requires federal agencies to implement in-sourcing policies for new work and work that was improperly outsourced.
“The swift passage of the CLEAN UP Act is the first step in correcting many of the longstanding issues in the federal procurement process,” said Gage. “For too long federal contractors with good connections have been robbing the American taxpayers blind with sole-source, no-bid contracts.”
The privatization process, known by its governing provision, Circular A-76, has been heavily criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In two separate reports last year, GAO noted that A-76 studies are frequently marred with cost overruns that overstate potential savings and underestimate procedural costs. GAO also found that A-76 studies disproportionately adversely affect female and African-American employees. In light of these revelations, Congress suspended all new A-76 reviews in this year’s Omnibus Appropriations Act.
While legislative action is under way, employees at the two DoD Supply Centers are in the midst of an A-76 privatization study that could potentially cost over 300 employees their jobs. The situation at West Point is worse. Department of public works employees at the nation’s oldest military academy were deemed to have lost in a public-private competition, after more than seven years of political wrangling, forcing 460 employees, many of them veterans, out on the street in the small community of Highland Falls, N.Y.
“To some, these jobs may just seem like numbers on a page, but these are people who have dedicated their lives to serving their communities, the taxpayers, and the mission of their agencies,” said Don Hale, chairman of AFGE’s DEFCON and president of AFGE Local 2367, which represents civilian defense employees at the West Point Military Academy. “The way they have been jerked around by this slanted system isn’t right.”