GOP platform signals possible shift in contractor fortunes

The outcome of the presidential election could herald a renewal of the insourcing/outsourcing debate.

The Republican Party’s view of the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Postal Service provide a glimpse of a potential change in federal contracting, should former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney win the White House in November.

In the Republicans’ 2012 party platform, the GOP calls for the private sector to "take over airport screening wherever feasible."

Similarly, “Congress should explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail-processing system,” the GOP adds.

Those positions suggest that the presidential election could change the government’s attitude toward purchasing and how closely agencies work with the private sector, said  Robert Burton, partner at the Venable law firm and a former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Will the Barack Obama administration’s drive for giving more federal work to government employees to do directly stay in place, or will feds compete against companies for the work they’re doing now?

It isn't a new question, however. To insource or outsource has been the question for years.

Two months after Obama became president in 2009, he released a presidential memo turning federal procurement 180 degrees from the direction in which President George W. Bush was marching. The Bush administration’s theme was competitive sourcing, in which the public sector and private sector vie for certain government work. Obama said that push had gone too far.

“The line between inherently governmental activities that should not be outsourced and commercial activities that may be subject to private sector competition has been blurred and inadequately defined,” Obama wrote in his March 4, 2009, memo.

On the legislative side, Congress had undertaken a similar effort. Appropriations bills essentially condemned competitive sourcing. On the other hand, the bills allowed departments to review jobs that were contracted to the private sector. If appropriate, the agency could take back the work if the federal employees could do it better and cheaper.

The fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which Obama signed soon after releasing his memo, prevented agencies from engaging in new competitive sourcing projects. The law also required agencies to establish guidelines for bringing back government work currently being performed by private contractors.

Since then, officials have pushed for clear lines between contractors and federal employees, as agencies pull more work in-house. The Obama administration told officials to not let contractors conduct inherently governmental functions, or jobs that only federal employees should do, such as conducting a criminal investigation. They should also be very wary of giving companies work that is even closely associated to inherently governmental functions. Furthermore, Obama introduced a new category of work, which further divided contractors from federal work. The critical function is work that is “necessary to the agency being able to effectively perform and maintain control of its mission and operations,” as the Office of Federal Procurement Policy defined it in 2011. Administration officials wanted to have enough knowledge in the government workforce to not be overly reliant on the private sector.

Now though, experts say the pendulum could swing the opposite direction if Republicans gain control of the White House or Congress.

“A Republican president and at least one house of Congress controlled by the Republicans would bring a strong likelihood of outsourcing coming back to the forefront of the management debate,” said Larry Allen, president of the Allen Federal Business Partners.

If the nation chooses Romney, Allen said the government would begin outsourcing more federal work, especially where there is either the perception or reality that a government function competes with the private sector.

Nevertheless, under competitive sourcing, federal employees have a winning record. According to a Competitive Sourcing Update published in 2007 by OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, employees won 87 percent of the work competed in fiscal 2006. Between fiscal 2003 and 2006, they won 83 percent of them.

But federal labor unions foresee a bleak future with a Republican-led White House, based on the GOP platform.

“As this platform makes clear, a Romney-Ryan administration would arbitrarily downsize the federal workforce, dismantle Medicare and Social Security, [and] outsource our national security to profit-driven private sector companies,” J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federal of Government Employees, said Aug. 27.

In other words, he added, “The GOP platform makes ‘government’ out to be a dirty word.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.