(Washington)— The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal employee union, today lauded the House Armed Services Committee for including a provision in the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act (H.R. 1538) that would impose a moratorium on new privatization reviews in Department of Defense (DoD) military hospitals.
AFGE saluted the bipartisan leadership of House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton, Ranking Member Duncan Hunter, Readiness Subcommittee Chair Solomon Ortiz, Ranking Member Jo Ann Davis, Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Vic Snyder, and Ranking Member John McHugh for their work on the legislation, which was marked up yesterday.
“The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) obsession with privatizing federal employees cannot be allowed to undermine the health of military personnel,” said John Gage, national president of AFGE, which represents workers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “The Walter Reed privatization fiasco could have been prevented.”
According to AFGE, OMB failed to enforce its deadline on the Army to finish or abandon the interminable privatization study by September 30, 2004. However, it was OMB’s numerical privatization quotas that made the Walter Reed privatization fiasco inevitable—forcing agencies to review for privatization certain numbers of employees every fiscal year—or else risk not getting sufficient funding in next year’s budget. Indeed, Army officials have been told that their service is red (i.e., the lowest possible grade) on the President’s Management Agenda and that they must review more than 45,000 jobs for privatization by the end of FY09.
“Installations that want to delay or cancel an OMB Circular A-76 privatization review must provide comparable numbers of jobs to review for privatization instead,” added Gage. “Rather than lose credit for reviewing the 300 jobs at Walter Reed for privatization, the Army felt compelled to finish the privatization review, even if it was illegal, wasteful, biased, and botched.
“The moratorium on new privatization reviews in DoD military hospitals is a sincere, bipartisan effort to address some of the problems caused by OMB’s now infamous ‘competitive sourcing’ policy. In the months ahead, the Congress will undoubtedly take other opportunities to make additional, much-needed reforms,” said Gage.