June 17, 2003
Diane Witiak
(202) 639-6419

House Lawmakers Oppose Privatization Of National Park Service (NPS) Jobs

(Washington, D.C.)—“Privatization for the sake of privatization should never become NPS’s mission,” states a letter signed by over 100 lawmakers in the House.

The June 16 letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), circulated by Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M) and signed by 111 House members, urges OMB to reconsider its privatization plans for the National Park Service which could turnover 1,708 federal jobs to private contractors.

The lawmakers point out that the NPS’s fulfillment of OMB’s privatization quotas “will threaten the hard-won diversity of the NPS workforce.” They note that a disproportionate number of jobs scheduled to be privatized are held by minorities. “Privatization quotas must not be used to roll back all of the progress made in creating a federal civil service as diverse and inclusive as the American people,” the letter states.

The Representatives also expressed concern that the new streamlined public-private competition process for functions with fewer than 65 employees “…puts federal employees at a competitive disadvantage by establishing an arbitrary deadline for the completion of competitions, leaving it entirely to the discretion of management as to whether in-house employees will be able to submit their best bids.”

Further, they point out that this new streamlined privatization process does not require appreciable savings to outsource federal jobs. “We strongly urge you to review this plan, keeping in mind that if outsourcing is in fact the most efficient method of improving efficiency, the apparent lack of true public-private competition is both inefficient and unfair,” the letter reads.

The legislators also note the significant costs involved in implementing OMB’s arbitrary privatization quotas which will require the diversion of staff and funding from the important mission of NPS—to safeguard America’s natural treasures while still making our national parks available to the American people—just to comply with the quotas.

“We urge the Department of Interior to consider alternatives to privatization that could help make the delivery of services by NPS more efficient and to consider the costs of those alternatives in relation to the high costs of privatization.

“The more lawmakers in the Congress learn about the Administration’s efforts to sell off the government to well-connected contractors, the less they like it,” stated AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., following release of the letter. “AFGE expresses its gratitude to Rep. Udall and those lawmakers who have joined with him to fight wholesale privatization. The House of Representative’s widespread support for this letter represents a compelling rationale for Congress to take corrective action.”

Letter to Director-Designee Bolten

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