Collins would give feds A-76 protest rights

Sen. Susan Collins

J. Adam Fenster

Sen. Susan Collins wants to give federal employees the right to protest OMB Circular A-76 decisions. The Maine Republican was set to introduce the bill late last week.

A recent ruling by the General Accounting Office not to grant protest rights to a team of workers from the Agriculture Department that lost a competitive bid to a vendor spurred the action by Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

Early last week, the committee was working out the bill's details, including who specifically would have protest rights, committee spokeswoman Andrea Hofelich said.

There is widespread agreement that federal employees should have the same right to protest A-76 awards as the private sector currently enjoys, Collins said after the GAO decision.

'At the same time, there is disagreement about how best to implement protest rights in a manner that will not impair the A-76 process,' she said. 'We will work with GAO and other interested parties to resolve this issue.'

Collins' counterpart in the House, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, supports employee protest rights for the agency official in charge of the government's bid, said John Brosnan, a GAO lawyer on detail to Davis' committee.

'Chairman Davis is concerned about employees' protest rights since the competitions are now held under Federal Acquisition Regulation-like terms,' Brosnan said recently at Input's Marketview 2004 conference in Vienna, Va. 'Because of that, we support a reasonable GAO protest process.'

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