Controversial list of jobs to outsource grows

Controversial list of jobs to outsource grows

When it comes to dealing with the inventory reform act, agencies still have work to do, OMB's Deidre A. Lee says.

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

Another 43 agencies have issued lists of jobs that could be outsourced, and challenges to both these lists and the first lists from 52 agencies have been filed.

The formal process of dealing with the 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act is ongoing even as administration officials are promising to improve the procedure in the future.

'There's some work to be done,' Deidre A. Lee, acting deputy director for management for the Office of Management and Budget, said recently at a hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

OMB is anxious to get the first full set of lists out'there is at least one more list expected shortly. The administration will then re-examine how the process can be improved, Lee told lawmakers.

Long list

The administration in October released the initial inventory. The first group of lists included 320,000 jobs [GCN, Oct. 11, 1999, Page 6]. The second listing was released in November. The latest inventory includes 35,000 jobs that are not inherently governmental and therefore potentially could be work handled by vendors. The second list includes some large agencies: the Energy Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development Department, Interior Department, Labor Department and Social Security Administration.

Under the law, agencies have one month to respond to any challenges. If a party remains dissatisfied, it can re-appeal. The agency then has another 10 days to make a final decision.

The task of challenging the lists is complicated. In many cases, vendors are protesting items that were not included because they were classified as inherently governmental work, industry officials said.

The Information Technology Association of America of Arlington, Va., has filed several challenges and criticized the way the lists were compiled.

'Most of the lists were coded so that most laypersons would find them difficult to decipher and were woefully incomplete,' said ITAA executive vice president Olga Grkavac in a letter accompanying the association's challenge.

Lawmakers who testified before the House subcommittee asked whether the administration was sidestepping the law.

'Unfortunately, it is my belief that the executive branch has violated both the spirit and the letter of the law,' said Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.).

'The purpose of this act is not to serve as a witch hunt for jobs to privatize,' said Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) 'However, if certain functions performed by agencies can be more economically carried out by the private sector, we need to look at those situations.'

But Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said he was opposed to massive outsourcing efforts.

'I'm not for dismantling the government,' he said.

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