May 09, 2001
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Lawmakers stand up in defense of federal employees

Other lawmakers who are signatories to the letter include Senators Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Representatives Connie Morella (R-Md.), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), William Clay (D-Mo.), Al Wynn (D-Md.), Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Jim Moran (D-Va.).

NIMA intends to take advantage of a controversial loophole in the Defense Appropriations bill that allows for work performed by federal employees to be transferred to a contractor—without public-private competition—if that contractor happens to be at least 51 percent owned by a Native American tribe. This anti-federal employee loophole has been used twice recently to directly convert the work of hundreds of federal employees at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. In both instances as well as in the case of NIMA, an OMB Circular A-76 public-private competition was started—and then aborted in favor of simply giving the work away to sole-source contractors.

"AFGE supports affirmative action, but this law establishes an intolerable preference for one particular group to the disadvantage of other minority groups," AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage stated.

According to the DoD Inspector General (IG), annual service contracting dollars have increased from $39.9 billion in 1992 to $51.8 billion in 1999. The General Accounting Office has suggested that DoD’s yearly bill for service contracting may now be as much as $100 billion. However, according to DoD, less than one percent of service contracts are undertaken through public-private competition. And the DoD IG reports that well over one-half of the contracts he surveyed in a recent audit suffered from "inadequate competition," suggesting that there is also precious little private-private competition.

"Clearly, the principle objective of DoD’s service contracting crusade over the last several years has been to replace civilian employees with contractors, not to make the department more efficient," added Harnage . "And the loophole used by NIMA to give away 600 federal employee jobs to a sole-source contractor, although egregious, is only one part of a very serious problem.

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