OMB to deliver competitive sourcing data

Bush administration officials, hoping to foster more informed discussions about the controversial issue of competitive sourcing, plan to deliver the first report on the topic to Congress this month.

"We've been in the anecdote business," Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said last week at a Gartner Inc. conference in Washington, D.C. "We need to base progress and discussions on facts."

Administration officials are expected to report to Congress by May 24, Johnson said, a requirement that was included in the fiscal 2004 consolidated appropriations bill.

Included in the report will be the number of public/private competitions completed, the government functions involved, the competitions' costs and estimated savings from completed competitions.

"I don't know what will be in the report, but I bet it says competitive sourcing varies by agency," Johnson said. "I think it will show this is a great thing to do. It makes sense."

Following recent revisions, the competitive sourcing process, as outlined in OMB's Circular A-76, is now fair and transparent, he said. Confusion, particularly among federal employees, still surrounds the issue because strong facts about the competitions have not been available, he said.

"There's a lot of misunderstanding on competitive sourcing," Johnson said. "There soon will be more facts on the table for us to have more meaningful conversations. The concerns will diminish as we become more comfortable with the facts."

Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc., said gathering relevant data is the foundation of performance-based acquisitions and competitive sourcing, each of which aim to improve government performance.

"It's the whole premise of performance-based, having those measures and metrics to tell you how well you've done," Mather said.

Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, said there hasn't been much competitive sourcing planning and action yet under the new circular, so it might be a sparse first report. However, it should give the administration an opportunity to comment on the past year's progress in competitive sourcing, he said.

"I hope they use this as an opportunity to make some observations about the A-76 process," he said. "Maybe they will make some suggestions on some areas that need to be reviewed."

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