(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and one of 12 members of the Commercial Activities Panel (CAP), today issued a statement in response to release of the CAP report. President Harnage's dissenting view is included in the full report.
"The Commercial Activities Panel was stacked with a solid pro-contractor majority and it submitted a solidly pro-contractor report.
"The Panel's recommendation to replace A-76 with an entirely untested and subjective FAR-based approach, and to do so immediately and without a trial period, is irresponsible.
"The FAR-based approach would deprive taxpayers of the benefit of apples to apples competitions that are decided on the basis of costs. It favors politically well-connected contractors who can submit gold-plated bids and win on the basis of hard-to-define factors like reputation and promises of future innovation.
"A-76 needed pro-taxpayer improvements that closed the loopholes that allow agencies to avoid competition and send their work straight out the door. Contractors, agencies and federal employees all agreed that A-76 needed improvements that would speed up public-private competition.
"Yet the Panel's recommended alternative to A-76 failed to address any of the loopholes. And even proponents of the FAR-based process acknowledge it will be no faster than A-76.
"This untried, radical departure from current practice has been rejected repeatedly by both Republican and Democratic administrations over the last fifty years. Even the Acquisition Reform-minded Clinton Administration rejected this approach when contractors attempted the same maneuver in 1998.
"The Panel's report is extremely narrow. There are no specific recommendations for tracking contractor costs or strengthening the acquisition workforce. It doesn't establish an equitable appeal process, and ignores the negative impact of arbitrary privatization quotas and FTE ceilings on agency sourcing decisions.
"The Panel's report does almost nothing to ensure that federal employees have the opportunity to compete either in defense of their own jobs, or for new government work or government work that has already been contracted out.
"The recommendations are bad news for both taxpayers and the federal government. If implemented, they would worsen the human capital crisis that was caused in part by indiscriminate contracting out and privatization.
"I am disappointed that the Panel's report excluded the text of an alternative approach—the Competition with Oversight, Responsibility and Equity (CORE) proposal—even though several elements of the proposal were supported by at least five panel members. CORE recommended: (1) public-private competition prior to outsourcing, absent national security rationales; (2) public-private competition for new and currently contracted government work; (3) pilot projects for numerous alternatives to A-76; (4) tracking the cost and quality of contracted work; (5) strengthening the civilian acquisition workforce; (6) establishing an equitable appeals process; and, (7) repudiating arbitrary quotas and personnel ceilings."
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal workers in the United States and overseas, as well as employees of the District of Columbia.