March 24, 2003
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Union Leaders Question OMB's Direct Conversion Policy

(Washington, D.C.)—Four union leaders have joined forces in a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell Daniels questioning the use of direct conversions by agencies to meet OMB’s outsourcing quotas.

The letter—signed by Gregory J. Junemann, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers; Michael D. Fanfalone, National President of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists; Colleen Kelly, President of the National Treasury Employees Union; and Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)—emphasizes that a number of executive branch agencies have met or exceeded their quotas entirely through direct conversions, without ever holding a single pubic-private competition.

Pointing to President Bush’s Budget Proposals for FY 2004, the letter notes, “Nowhere does the document express any preference for public-private competition versus direct conversion. Indeed, it is clear that direct conversion without competition is a fully acceptable way to meet the President’s privatization quotas.”

In recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, Angela Styles, Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, expressed concern that agencies “over the last two years have made decisions to directly convert that have not been in the interest of the taxpayer.” Yet, through its outsourcing goals, OMB has explicitly encouraged agencies to convert as well as compete federal employee jobs.

If federal employees could directly query Director Daniels and Administrator Styles, they would ask two questions: (1) Wouldn’t it be correct to say that OMB’s competitive sourcing goals have contributed to the acknowledged abuse of direct conversions over the last two years, and (2) When will OMB change its competitive sourcing goals to encourage competitions—not conversions—and if not, why?

“OMB has rationalized its decision to force agencies to publish inherently governmental positions as evidence of its commitment to openness,” the letter concludes. “In that vein, OMB should publish other information related to the imposition of the ‘competitive (sic) sourcing’ quotas.”

Read the full text of the letter, faxed to OMB Director Daniels today.

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