Senate gives workers A-76 protest rights

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

The Senate last week moved a step closer to giving federal employees the right to protest public-private competitions to the General Accounting Office.

The chamber unanimously passed an amendment sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) as part of the fiscal 2005 Defense Authorization Act. Members still are debating the entire bill.

The provision is the same one Collins introduced as a full bill last month. It would convey the protest privilege to the agency official in charge of the competition under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, or to a person designated by a majority of the employees involved.

The House DOD bill has no such provision, so the differences will have to be worked out in conference once the Senate passes the full authorization bill.

The Senate also passed an amendment placing some A-76 restrictions on DOD.

One provision would require Defense officials to conduct a full competition for A-76 studies involving 10 or more employees. It also would continue the requirement for successful contractor bids to come in at 10 percent less or $10 million less than the employee proposal.

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