(Washington, D.C.)—In an unprecedented move, thirty-seven different labor, environmental, civil rights, and public interest groups have joined together, sending a letter to all members of the House of Representatives
urging them to fight against privatization of the important services provided by the Department of Interior and related agencies, including the National Park Service and the Forest Service.
Concern has grown steadily over the last several months about the damage being inflicted on all federal agencies by the Bush Administration’s wholesale privatization policy. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed dismay in particular about how the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) privatization quotas have prevented Interior and related agencies from performing their important mission of protecting America’s natural treasures.
“Clearly, opposition to the Bush Administration’s policy of wholesale privatization of federal services doesn’t come just from federal employee organizations, such as AFGE, despite the disinformation spread by private contractors, their cronies in OMB, and their cheerleaders in right-wing think tanks,” stated AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, Sr.
The House FY2004 Interior Appropriations Bill (Section 335) includes bipartisan language that would temporarily suspend any new privatization efforts. The suspension would allow Congress to review an “in-depth report” on the results of pending privatization efforts that would include information related to “specific schedules, plans, and cost estimates for implementing” OMB’s privatization quotas.
Unfortunately, at the direction of OMB, Section 335 will be attacked or watered down when the Interior Appropriations Bill is considered on the floor of the House of Representatives later this week, which risks spreading the pollution of privatization throughout Interior and related agencies. The coalition of diverse organizations that have signed the letter in support of Section 335 will strongly resist this effort.
“Wholesale privatization is bad for working families, the environment, local communities, and every single American who depends on the federal government for important services,” Harnage added. “Whether the issue is ensuring food safety, preserving our national parks, promoting the economic health of local communities, or maintaining good jobs, it is clear that the Bush Administration will always put the narrow political interest of private contractors above the public’s interest in receiving reliable and efficient public services.”