Styles took hits for OMB agenda

Angela Styles, the chief proponent of the Bush administration's controversial competitive sourcing initiative, will leave the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy Sept. 15.

She is leaving her post as OFPP administrator to return to private law practice, an OMB spokeswoman said.

A forceful champion of the President's Management Agenda, Styles received both praise and criticism for spearheading the administration's competitive sourcing efforts. The initiative has drawn fierce opposition from federal employee unions and others who fear the loss of hundreds of thousands of federal jobs.

"The union's not sorry to see her leave," said Richard Brown, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. However, he added, "all roads lead to what the administration's goals are, and she happened to be the front person on that, so I guess she got the blame for that."

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, had a different take.

"She was very knowledgeable and was one of the few who listened to the questions and concerns of the unions," Kelley said. "I found her to be very open and accessible. Even though we never agreed on the issue, the opportunity to at least have a chance to impact what they were going to do was good for the union."

"It's not a huge surprise," said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an industry group. "She's been there two and a half years, and it's a grueling job. It takes a toll on you."

Soloway characterized Styles as an effective and dedicated advocate of the most controversial part of the agenda. "It's a thankless task, and she handled it with grace," he said.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said Styles had a mixed record from his group's point of view. Although competitive sourcing would be good for industry, Styles also tried to squelch time-and-materials contracting, a common commercial practice.

"To be fair to Angela, she was administrator of OFPP at a very tough time," he said. "The 1990s' momentum for procurement reform had come to an end. By the time Angela took office, she had to deal with the changes the policies brought about."

Her background as a lawyer may also not have helped her administrative position, said Steve Kelman, a professor of public management at Harvard University's Kennedy School and a former OFPP administrator.

"Unfortunately, Styles brought a legalistic rather than a business-management perspective to government procurement, which demoralized the government contracting workforce and set back efforts at government/vendor cooperation," he said.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, found Styles to be a valuable ally in his efforts to enact procurement reform, said Dave Marin, Davis' communications and policy director.

"Davis has enjoyed a close and productive relationship with her," Marin said. "Together they've spent countless hours trying to bring the government's acquisition system and processes into the 21st century."

Judi Hasson contributed to this report.

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