Feds knock the administration's A-76 initiative

The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on outsourcing is based on an e-mail survey of 145 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT managers.

Government IT professionals responding to a recent GCN e-mail survey were overwhelmingly critical of the Bush administration's competitive-sourcing initiative.

More than three quarters, 78 percent, doubted that the initiative'one of the five major items in the President's Management Agenda'will meet the administration's goals of making government performance more effective and efficient.

'Government performance will never be effective and efficient if [agencies] continue to overwork IT personnel with no recognition for what IT personnel are accomplishing,' a Defense Department employee said. 'Supervisors must listen to ideas submitted by their employees and trust the judgement of the people that are actually completing the tasks.'

Only 22 percent agreed that the initiative would help fulfill the administration's goals.
Competitive sourcing 'is just the beginning'we must give it a chance and learn from the mistakes,' a civilian-agency manager said.

'The administration's efforts are making us rethink the way we manage and justify costs and return on IT projects,' another civilian-agency employee said.

For many survey respondents, competitive sourcing'under which teams of government workers are allowed to compete with industry for contracts'is synonymous with outsourcing.

Seventy-nine percent saw the initiative, which relies on OMB Circular A-76 to guide agencies' bid reviews, as an effort to outsource government jobs to industry.

Moreover, 88 percent agreed with some critics that the initiative is having a negative impact on the morale of government workers.

'Morale is down already,' a civilian-agency manager said. 'If a contractor gets the bid and fails, an agency will no longer have the personnel to compete to get the work back, and government is already having problems retaining skilled IT workers.'

A Defense Department employee said: 'I believe outsourcing is [intended] to break the unions and benefit big corporations and congressmen and women that vote for outsourcing our jobs.'

Added a manager at a civilian agency: 'Those outside government or high up in government have this misconception that contract workers are better than government employees. I've worked with enough contractors to know that is not true.'

'Government IT workers work for the government,' a civilian-agency employee said. 'Their loyalties lie with the government. Outsourced workers work for their companies and are loyal to their profit margin. Of course, they will always put their interests first rather than the interests of the government.'

'I just came from the private sector and [IT] outsourcing is a joke,' a civilian-agency employee said. 'It works if you want to staff your canteen or do the janitorial work but not for any serious part of your business.'

'The gains, if any, are very short-term and the costs of not investing in government employees will be very high over the long term,' a civilian-agency worker added.


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