Davis says personnel shortage weakens agencies in A-76 competitions

Davis says personnel shortage weakens agencies in A-76 competitions

Rep. Tom Davis

When it comes to competing for federal jobs with the private sector, agencies must overcome hiring and retention problems if they want a fair shot at keeping the jobs within government, Rep. Tom Davis said.

The Virginia Republican said Friday that no matter what process the Office of Management and Budget comes up with, agencies are at a disadvantage until they can hire and train workers with the expertise to develop bids for A-76 competitions.

Davis' House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy held a hearing on the findings of the congressionally mandated Commercial Activities Panel, which came up with recommendations in April on altering OMB Circular A-76, which sets ground rules for reviewing whether to outsource or keep work within the government.

'My concern is we are not recruiting enough workers, particularly in IT, to do the work,' Davis told a panel of CAP members who testified Friday. 'Federal workers can compete through A-76, but not if they don't have the people to do it.'

The hearing, which the subcommittee rescheduled twice, came just as the Office of Federal Procurement Policy is preparing a revised version of the circular. OFPP administrator Angela Styles testified that a draft is in the final clearance phase and could be issued by the end of October.

The revision will, as recommended by CAP members, apply a Federal Acquisition Regulation approach to A-76 reviews. But Davis said Congress needs to look at civil service reforms, including pay raises and training initiatives, that would make federal employees more comparable with their private-sector counterparts.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, agreed with Davis. 'It is risky for the government to rely on outside service without maintaining in-house skills,' she said. 'It comes down to the ability to pay workers and offer agency managers the flexibility to pay for resources.'

Davis said the government needs to view its employees as its most valuable asset, as many companies do.

'A beefed-up federal work force gives the government a better chance to win A-76 competitions,' he said. 'They may not always win, but it makes them feel better about competing when they know they have a chance.'

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