August 01, 2007
John Threlkeld
(202) 639-6466

Unfair Outsourcing Practices "Falter" Badly, Thanks to Congressional Reforms and Safeguards Pushed by AFGE

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Unfair outsourcing practices at several government agencies have been sharply curtailed by Congressional reforms thanks to AFGE lobbying efforts. But during a roundtable on its annual OMB report card Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management, said Congress does not fully understand the privatization process, something AFGE disputes.

"OMB still does not get it. Federal workers take an oath to do their best to serve the American public. They should not be put in a position where they have to compete for their jobs on a regular basis so a Bush crony can make a few million. Despite the Walter Reed fiasco and widespread evidence of contractor abuses, OMB persists in trying to drive its wholesale privatization agenda. Clearly this Congress isn't buying it," said AFGE President John Gage.

In fact, AFGE legislative representatives have received widespread bipartisan support in efforts to curtail OMB attempts to privatize a wide range of government services. Follows are some examples:

- AFGE worked with the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) to include basic reforms in the FY08 Defense Authorization Bill. Among those reforms:

Exclusion of health care and retirement costs from the contracting out cost comparison process so that contractors don’t get unfair advantages from providing their workers with inferior benefits;

  • establishment of contracting out appeal rights, so federal employees can appeal biased or botched contracting out decisions to the Government Accountability Office the way contractors always have; abolition of OMB direction to agencies whereby political appointees tell career managers how many and which employees agencies must review for privatization;
  • Nullification of a provision in the OMB Circular A-76 that requires federal employees, but not contractors, to be automatically recompeted;
  • Establishment of insourcing guidance so federal employees get fair opportunities to perform new and outsourced work; and requirement of fair public-private competition before commercial work performed by federal employees is given to contractors.

- AFGE is pleased that all but the insourcing and automatic recompetition provisions are also included in the House and Senate versions of the FY08 Financial Services (government-wide) Appropriations Bill.

- We are proud to have worked with lawmakers to include provisions to shut down the use of the A-76 process in both the House and Senate versions of the FY08 Labor-HHS-Education (Department of Labor), Energy and Water (Corps of Engineers), and Interior (Forest Service) Appropriations Bills as well as the House version of the FY08 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill (Bureau of Prisons and all funded agencies until federal employees have contracting out appeal rights). The House’s Wounded Warriors legislation also included a one-year moratorium on privatization reviews at military hospitals.

- Moreover, the union worked with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) to include in an FY07 Supplemental Appropriations Bill provisions which make inherently governmental all employees who work at the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Energy Technological Laboratories.

- And AFGE is proud to have retained in the House and Senate versions of the FY08 Agriculture (rural and home loan personnel) and Homeland Security (Immigration Information Officers, Contact Representatives, and Investigative Assistants) Appropriations Bills longstanding bipartisan provisions to prevent privatization reviews of key federal employees.

- However, we’ve worked with widespread bipartisan opposition to attempts inspired by OMB officials to eliminate reform provisions in various appropriations bills. Working under OMB supervision, a certain House lawmaker has offered floor amendments to the Energy and Water, Financial Services, Labor-HHS-Education, and Commerce-Science-Justice Appropriations Bills to strike important reforms and safeguards—and lost each time because of strong opposition from Democrats and Republicans alike.

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