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Federal Employees News Digest : June 24, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 JUNE 24, 2013 • VOL. 62, NO. 47 House rejects return of A-76 competitions Congress this month rejected a return to the outsourcing competition process known as A-76 at the Department of Defense---and federal employees' unions who have long fought privatization of government func- tions are cheering the vote. "This amendment would have opened up the outsourcing floodgate at DOD, cost- ing even more civilian jobs that have been subjected to arbitrary cuts for years," J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement. "We were very pleased with the result," John Threlkeld, legislative representative for AFGE, told FEND. "In my 20 years, to my memory, that's one of the worst losses that the pro-contractor side has ever seen in the House." The A-76 process refers to the Office of Management and Budget guidance docu- ment by the same title, dating back to the 1960s. It is a procedure that, when in force, permits private firms to compete with federal agencies to perform what would otherwise be government-effected tasks. Opponents argue that in practice, A-76 stacks the deck against government bids for the same work, resulting in a flood of less- efficient private contracts. The use of A-76 at DOD occurred under the Clinton administration, and became common under the vastly expanded priva- tization practices and heightened spending at the department under the George W. Bush administration's handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Opponents have long argued---as they did this month in Congress---that in practice A-76 competi- tions are usually biased in favor of private contractors, rather than actually determin- ing, as the rules dictate, whether govern- ment or private industry can most effi- ciently perform a given function. Congress imposed a moratorium on the use of A-76 at DOD in 2007, and through- out all government agencies in 2008, in the wake of a highly publicized scandal exposing both government and contractor failings at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The moratorium remains in place---but every year, con- tracting proponents continue to fight it on Capitol Hill. This year, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) intro- duced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have ended the moratorium. The measure lost, 178-248, in a bipartisan vote. Controversy persists "The use of A-76 was always controver- sial," Threlkeld explained to FEND. "During the Bush administration, Congress finally pushed back with a series of prohibitions against the process---until finally there was the government-wide prohibition which was passed in 2008, but signed in 2009 by President Obama." "Now, there remains the government- wide prohibition, and a specific prohibition at DOD," Threlkeld said. "Current law remains that requires DOD to do a report on its [contractor spending] and an inventory of service contracts, and provide it as part of the budgeting process Mothers of reinvention I'm not sure when the first effort to reform---we now say "reinvent"---the civil service started. Knowing the ways of Washington, and politicians' love of "reform," it was prob- ably only a short time after the civil service was established that politicians and social scientists began efforts to reinvent it. The civil service is like one of those odd items in a room that people are always moving or dusting. Or covering. It just can't be left alone. Congress and the White House have been making government "better" (in their view) for a long time. The Bush administration introduced, then imposed a pay-for-performance system in the Defense Department. It was called the National Security Personnel System. It put government workers in pay bands and was supposed to make it easier for managers to reward outstanding people (with pay raises) and impose demerits on those who weren't doing so well. Thanks to opposition from federal unions, NSPS never spread beyond DOD. And it was confined to workers who were outside the jurisdiction of union representation. As a result, only a relatively small number of DOD workers came under the system. The raises most got were better than their colleagues under the regular GS system got. Some INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Panel reviews 'reinvention' plan 3 • Postal reform reappears 4 • In Brief 5 • Legal Matters 6 • Informed Investor 8 • Federal Benefits Q&A 9 continued on page 3
June 17, 2013
July 1, 2013