A-76 recommendations are due this week

A panel reviewing government outsourcing efforts will make four major recommendations this week to improve the OMB Circular A-76 process.

The Commercial Activities Panel's report, expected May 1, will focus on improving competition, speeding up the process and giving government employees the ability to appeal, said sources close to the panel's review.

Although no one would give details about the report, the sources said the suggestions are more general than specific and will not provide the changes many in Congress, government and in-dustry have been calling for.

Real concerns

'The panel tried really hard to address the real concerns of each constituency,' a panel member said. 'The overall process and principles of A-76 will be addressed.'

The panel has both public- and private-sector participants, including comptroller general David Walker; Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; Bobby Harnage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees; and Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Styles and many other government officials have said the A-76 process needs fixing. Establishing the panel was Congress' attempt to bring executives together to improve the program.

Critics of A-76 have said the cost comparison process at 18 to 24 months takes too long, dampens government employee morale and forces vendors to compete twice for work.

The Bush administration has set a goal for agencies to open 15 percent of their work to competition by 2003, but most observers expect few agencies to meet the deadline.

The small panel, like committees and groups before it, had trouble reaching consensus, sources said. Of the four recommendations, the panel approved one unanimously; the other three received two-thirds majority approval, sources said.

The panel will submit its recommendations to Congress and the administration.

Marginal changes

'There will be some changes, but they will be at the margin,' predicted Stephen Sorett, an A-76 expert and a partner with the Washington law firm Reed-Smith. 'To get more speed in the process, they would have to do some business re-engineering, but the basic model has to be the same.'

Sources said one way to speed the process and make competition fairer would be to have government employees and vendors submit proposals simultaneously. Now agencies first compare vendor proposals, then the winning vendor bid goes head-to-head with the employee proposal.

Sorett said vendors have less chance of winning an A-76 competition than a typical procurement.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, plans to hold a hearing next month to review the panel's findings.

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