Collins drafts bill to give feds standing in A-76 protests

Collins drafts bill to give feds standing in A-76 protests

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week will introduce a bill to give federal employees the right to protest decisions to the General Accounting Office based on public-private bid reviews under revised OMB Circular A-76.

GAO's ruling last week not to grant an employee-bidding team protest rights after Agriculture Department workers questioned an award to a vendor spurred the action by Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee [see GCN story].

The committee still is working out the bill's details, including who specifically would receive protest rights and the selection of bill cosponsors, committee spokeswoman Andrea Hofelich said.

There is widespread agreement that federal employees should have the same right to protest adverse A-76 awards as the private sector currently enjoys, Collins said after the GAO decision last week. 'At the same time, there is disagreement about how best to implement protest rights in a manner that will not impair the A-76 process. We will work with GAO and other interested parties to resolve this issue."

Hofelich said the committee is speaking with Office of Management and Budget, GAO and union officials.

Collins' counterpart in the House, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, supports employee protest rights for the agency official in charge of the government's bid, said John Brosnan, a GAO lawyer on detail to Davis' committee.

'Chairman Davis is concerned about employees' protest rights since the competitions are now held under Federal Acquisition Regulation-like terms,' Brosnan said recently at Input's Marketview 2004 conference in Vienna, Va. 'Because of that, we support a reasonable GAO protest process.'

The American Federation of Government Employees does not support Davis' idea of giving the agency official in charge of the offer protest rights.

'We will strongly oppose any effort to invest standing exclusively in an agency tender official, a senior manager charged with implementing the Bush administration's privatization agenda and someone who manifestly lacks the autonomy, resources and incentive necessary to represent federal employees who are being victimized by the Bush administration's one-sided privatization agenda,' AFGE president John Gage said after the GAO decision.

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