Bill introduced to give employees A-76 protest rights

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) followed the advice of the General Accounting Office and today introduced a bill to give federal employees protest rights in public-private competitions run under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), would extend protest rights to the GAO to two employees'the agency official in charge of the employee bid and a representative chosen by the employees should the agency official decide not to protest.

'In my view, having federal employees vote to choose a representative to protest when they are dissatisfied with the [agency official] should achieve the maximum efficiency possible while respecting federal employees' interests,' Collins said in a prepared statement she will offer later on the floor of the Senate. 'Providing them with protest rights that are similar to those enjoyed by the private sector is vital to assuring federal employees that the rules of the game are fair to them.'

Collins, the chairwoman of the Governmental Reform Committee, said her staff consulted employee unions, agency and administration officials, and contractor trade associations. The bill likely will be referred to Collins' committee.

'The American Federation of Government Employees regards this legislation as a constructive start toward the establishment of a truly balanced and equitable appellate process,' said John Threlkeld, AFGE's assistant legislative director. 'Chairman Collins is to be commended for her leadership on this very important issue.'

Collins' decision to introduce legislation comes after the GAO in April denied federal employees standing before them [See GCN April 20 coverage http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/outsourcing/25643-1.html].

GAO said neither federal employees nor their unions qualify as interested parties. The Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 defines an interested party as an 'actual or prospective bidder or offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of the contract or by failure to award the contract.'

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