OMB offers guidance on competitive-sourcing reports

As the Office of Management and Budget begins taking stock of how many government workers are performing inherently commercial tasks, the administration made things a little easier for agencies with fewer than 100 full-time employees.

In a recent memo, OMB deputy director Clay Johnson said it is exempting those agencies from reporting requirements under OMB Circular A-76, an aspect of which requires all agencies to submit an inventory of employees performing inherently governmental activities.

Also, these agencies, under the fiscal 2006 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies appropriations bill, are exempt from providing OMB a list of commercial functions performed by government workers.

All other agencies, though, must give a list to the administration by June 30 of these functions, as directed under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998, Johnson said.

Circular A-76 encourages agencies to competitively source, or conduct competitions, for inherently commercial functions'like custodial work'performed by government employees and offers agencies a process for comparing the cost of in-house and commercial services.

While the memo required agencies to file this information in the standard Excel spreadsheet format posted at OMB's Web site, Johnson said the government next year will submit the information through a new automated portal.

The Workforce Inventories Tracking System (WITS), Johnson said, should be operational during this fiscal year and OMB will enter the data from the Excel spreadsheets into the new system

Next fiscal year, though, agencies will be required to use WITS, Johnson said.

Glen Perry, senior procurement executive at the Education Department and vice chairman of the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, said last week that WITS will show agencies and Congress the benefits of competitive sourcing.

"We have used Excel spreadsheets and we want something easier that can show where the benefits are and where competitive sourcing is paying off," Perry said at the FOSE trade show in Washington. "It will be more transparent to agencies. Congress also wants better information."

Perry said the CAO Council gave money to the new system, but he could not provide details as to how much.

He did say, though, that WITS will make more transparent how many government jobs are being competed.

"We want a system that generates reports and captures data more easily," he said. "We want to know what is being competed, who is involved and how many positions."

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