Senators express concern over A-76 revision

After failing by one vote last session, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is trying again to slow down the Bush administration's plan to open federal jobs to competition from the private sector.

Earlier this week, Kennedy sent a letter signed by 34 other senators to Office of Management and Budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. conveying their concerns about the White House's plans to compete federal jobs under OMB Circular A-76.

'We have deep reservations about privatizing so much of the federal work force, especially in the absence of a reliable and comprehensive process to determine the cost, quality and scope of the tens of billions of dollars of work already performed by private contractors,' the senators wrote.

Kennedy attached a provision to the Defense Authorization Bill of 2003 that would have forced Defense Department employees to compete for jobs currently done by contractors. The Senate voted to table the motion 50-49.

So now he is trying a different tack. The letter, signed only by Democrats including minority leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) and presidential candidates Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), John Edwards (N.C.), John Kerry (Mass.), is in response to OMB's work to revise A-76.

The senators ask OMB to:

  • Ensure that no work is privatized without first giving federal employees opportunities to compete

  • Ensure that federal employees are given fair opportunities to compete for new work and work currently done by contractors

  • Prevent privatization of work performed by federal employees without the use of a fair, cost-based public-private competition

  • Establish reliable methods to track the cost and quality of work performed by contractors

  • Establish objective measures for public-private competition that ensure fair wages and benefits

  • This letter came as the Office of Federal Procurement Policy was putting the finishing touches on the revised A-76 circular. Angela Styles, administrator of OFPP, recently said she hoped the revised process would be finished by the end of February.


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