GAO: More help needed for competitive-sourcing process

The Office of Management and Budget has stymied agency progress in competing more federal jobs with the private sector under Circular A-76, the General Accounting Office said today.

The GAO report covered the seven departments that have almost 84 percent of all commercial positions in the federal government. Examiners said they found several reasons why more positions are not being competed at the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.

They said some progress is occurring in developing infrastructure for these competitions, but agencies need more funding, personnel resources and clearer criteria from OMB to decide which positions are commercial.

'While recent OMB guidance has stressed that agencies should tailor their plans to meet mission needs, the emphasis in the guidance is still more process than results,' GAO said. 'Agencies have focused on meeting targets to announce and complete competitions and have not assessed broader issues, such as weighing potential improvements against the costs and risks.'

The auditors recommended that OMB ensure greater consistency in classifying commercial positions, work with agencies to make strategic sourcing decisions and require them to develop results-oriented competition plans.

OMB responded that it agreed with all three GAO recommendations and will review current classification guidance and consider additional guidance if necessary.

OMB also said it will review competitive-sourcing plans to better understand how agencies chose which positions to compete and what the potential savings are.

Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Management, the Federal Work Force and the District of Columbia, requested the report along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Government Reform Committee.

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