GAO questions administration, congressional stances on competitive sourcing

GAO questions administration, congressional stances on competitive sourcing

Neither the Bush administration's nor Congress' competitive sourcing initiatives meet the recommendations of the Commercial Activities Panel, the comptroller general says.

The administration's goal to competitively source 15 percent of federal jobs by October 2003 is not based on 'considered research and sound analysis,' said David Walker, the General Accounting Office's chief, in a letter to Sen. George Voinovich that GAO released today.

A competitive sourcing goal should be based on a review of historical data about outsourcing activity combined with an analysis of market trends, said Walker, who was chairman of the panel. Any goal setting restrictions could hinder fair management, he said.

Voinovich, who is the ranking member of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia, had asked Walker in an Aug. 5 letter if the initiatives were in line with the CAP's April report [see story at www.gcn.com/21_10/outsourcing/18583-1.html].

Walker said the administration's goal does not take into 'full account the capacity of agencies, particularly civilian agencies, to conduct public-private competitions.'

He said the administration's research of capacity and market trends should identify specific types of activities that should be subject to competition.

Meanwhile, he said, the language in the Treasury and General Government appropriations bill 'could serve to inappropriately constrain the exercise of reasonable management discretion' because it could be construed to prohibit use of any goals, even those based on sound research and trends.

Walker recommended that Congress include the word 'arbitrary' in the provision to be consistent with the panel's suggestions. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) sponsored the provision in their house's respective bills [see story at www.gcn.com/21_24/outsourcing/19678-1.html]. The House has passed it version of the bill; the Senate has yet to vote.

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