'Governmental' jobs to get OMB scrutiny

'It costs money to run competitions; it costs money to design the bid ... . On top of that, the employees have a mission to do.'

' GAO's David Walker

J Adam Fenster

Agencies are rejecting a Bush administration push to move thousands of jobs to vendors through competitive sourcing under reviews using new OMB Circular A-76 rules.

Agencies had identified 850,000 jobs as commercial and therefore potentially subject to competition from the private sector. But the Office of Management and Budget's review last month of agencies' job inventories showed that agencies had tagged 500,000 of those jobs as possibly commercial but inherently governmental and likely not subject to competitive sourcing.

OMB 'will take a hard look at those positions to see if they should be subject to competition,' said Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. 'We plan to ask agencies for more information on why certain positions were put in to this category.'

Styles, speaking last month at a discussion on outsourcing sponsored by IBM Corp.'s Endowment for the Business of Government, said this was the first time agencies submitted their job inventories in a consistent manner, which made it possible for OMB to conduct governmentwide analysis.

Plus, it seems likely that workers whose jobs are subjected to competition will gain rights to appeal A-76 decisions to the General Accounting Office.

Comptroller general David Walker last month told lawmakers he believes there are some cases where federal employees should be able to protest decisions that go against them. Walker's statement supported the contention of federal workers and unions who criticized the old A-76 rules for not giving them appeal rights.

Comments, please

GAO last month asked agencies and industry to comment on whether employees should have appeal rights.

Walker, speaking before the House Government Reform Committee, told members that OMB also must give agencies financial and technical support to properly implement the new rules for A-76, which were released last month.

'It costs money to run competitions; it costs money to design the bid and it costs money to train employees to take part in these competitions,' Walker said. 'On top of that, the employees have a mission to do.'

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