June 14, 2005
Emily Ryan

Lawmakers Join AFGE in Protesting VOA Plans to Send Jobs Overseas

(Washington) — Led by Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), 14 prominent lawmakers on the Foreign Relations Committee and the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee have urged the Voice of America (VOA) not to contract out to China English-language news writing work that currently is performed by Americans.

Tim Shamble, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1812, has led the fight against VOA's Chinese outsourcing plan. "As noted by the senators in their letter to VOA Director David S. Jackson, VOA must 'present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively' and 'represent America, not any single segment of American society' so that the agency 'can present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions,'" he said.

"It's almost impossible to imagine how VOA intends to accurately report on U.S. policies and issues with reporters living half way around the world. VOA management seems to have forgotten what the "A" in VOA stands for," said AFGE Legislative Representative John Threlkeld. "Additionally, it is unthinkable that VOA would try to do this with contractors who live under a totalitarian government and whose impressions of the United States may be based more on anti-American propaganda than real-life experience.

"This privatization plan is completely contrary to OMB Circular A-76, which requires public-private competition for work performed by federal employees before it is given to contractors, regardless of whether the adversely affected employees may be reassigned," Threlkeld added. "The only way VOA can go through with its Chinese privatization system is if the competition requirement is waived by OMB, which leads to the bigger picture. AFGE firmly believes that OMB’s privatization system is nothing more than an attempt to replace hard-working federal employees who perform critical work for the American people with poorly-compensated contractors, even foreign contractors."

Letter to VOA Director from U.S. Senators

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