OMB abandons governmentwide A-76 goals

The Office of Management and Budget has dropped its governmentwide goals for having federal employees compete with the private sector for government work after succumbing to Congressional pressure.

Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, today told lawmakers that OMB has moved away from 'mandated numerical goals and uniform baselines.'

'We don't want the numerical goals to be a distraction of what we are trying to do,' Styles said before the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Work Force and the District of Columbia. 'We had negotiated so many individual goals with agencies that it made sense to get rid of the numerical goals.'

OMB aimed to hold competition for 15 percent of all federal jobs considered commercial under OMB Circular A-76 by October 2003, and 50 percent of all positions by 2007. Those goals came under fire from Congress, the employee unions and the General Accounting Office, which said they were arbitrary and not based on research.

'Agencies will choose what positions and what percentage of positions they will compete,' Styles said. 'We still expect agencies to compete everything open to competition.'

David Walker, GAO's comptroller general, told the subcommittee that goals that are well-researched and based on fact can be necessary and appropriate. But quotas or arbitrary goals are worthless, he said.

OMB has reached agreement with a number of agencies on individual plans, but others are struggling to find the right approach, Styles said. The Small Business Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and Agency for International Development are among those that haven't settled on a goal with OMB, she said.

OMB outlined a few agency goals in a new competitive sourcing report (PDF) released today. The Agriculture Department, for instance, will hold competitions for 35,600 of 98,500 positions, or 36 percent of its work force. Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department has a lower goal of 17 percent, 11,200 jobs out of 64,900 employees.

Styles said OMB will issue a full report detailing goals for every agency by Sept. 26.

Walker once again questioned the support OMB is providing agencies. As he told the House Government Reform Committee in June, Walker said OMB should use the proposed $500 million pay-for-performance fund in the Bush administration's 2004 budget submission to provide technical and financial resources to agencies.

Styles said OMB is working to make sure agencies have the necessary skills to compete. The Federal Acquisition Council's competitive sourcing subcommittee will go to every agency to assess its infrastructure to compete with the private sector for federal jobs, she said.

OMB also asked agencies to specify the amount of money needed for competitive sourcing studies as a line item in the fiscal 2005 budget request, Styles said. Agency submissions are due Sept. 8.

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