Panel determines A-76 has worn out its welcome

Panel determines A-76 has worn out its welcome

In its long-awaited report on OMB Circular A-76, the Commercial Activities Panel today recommended using a Federal Acquisition Regulation approach to level the playing field when outsourcing government services.

The study concluded that A-76 'has been stretched beyond its original purpose, which was to determine the low-cost provider of a defined set of services.' By adopting an approach based on FAR, all parties would compete under the same set of rules, the panel said.

The report makes three other chief recommendations. It calls for adopting 10 sourcing principles, refining A-76 policies and creating a waiver process to allow limited exemptions from federal outsourcing policies. The 12-person panel unanimously supported adopting the sourcing principles and reached two-thirds majority agreement on the other items.

'Overall, I believe that the findings and recommendations contained in the panel's report represent a reasoned, reasonable, fair and balanced approach to addressing this important, sensitive and complex area,' said general comptroller David Walker, a panel member. 'The recommendations also represent a significant improvement over the status quo.'

The new FAR approach would establish four things:
  • Clear conflict-of-interest rules

  • Statements of work that apply to all competitors

  • Equally applied evaluation criteria

  • The ability to protest to the contracting agency, the Court of Federal Claims or the General Accounting Office.


  • Many of the changes in the report could be done administratively, the panel said. During the transition to whatever outsourcing program the administration and Congress approve, the panel recommended that limited changes be made to the current A-76 process so outsourcing does not come to a halt.

    To view the report, go to www.gao.gov and scroll down to the Commercial Activities Panel link.

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