Lawmakers begin work to change A-76

The battle over competitive sourcing has begun, again.

The House Armed Services Committee today passed an amendment to the fiscal 2005 Defense Department Authorization bill, HR 4200, that would exclude health care costs when comparing employee and contractor bids under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) sponsored the amendment, which was passed by voice vote.

The provision also would use cost savings from previously outsourced jobs to fund future competitions. It would establish a pilot program to let DOD employees compete for new work and contractor work, and expresses the members' support of giving employees legal standing before the General Accounting Office to protest awards.

'As DOD undergoes a large shift toward privatization of hundreds of thousands of civilian employees, we must ensure that these individuals are granted an equal opportunity to compete for their own jobs,' Langevin said.

This is the first bill of the 108th Congress' second session that tries to level the playing field for pubic-private competitions.

Experts believe this session will include many provisions similar to this one. Last summer, lawmakers placed such provisions in the Treasury, Transportation and General Government appropriations bill as well as the Defense and Interior departments' spending bills. Many of these provisions were removed in conference committee'mostly at the administration's behest.

The Professional Services Council, an Arlington, Va., trade association, blasted the amendment, saying it would place insurmountable obstacles in the path of DOD efforts to 'improve performance and efficiency.'

PSC president Stan Soloway said the amendment 'is a kind of kitchen sink approach to public policy. It combines into a single proposal virtually every anti-competitive sourcing idea that has been proposed over the last several years.'

The entire bill must be passed by the full committee.

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