Commerce's compliance with FAIR Act 'not credible'

OMB Circular A-76

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Some organizations within the Commerce Department have been less than forthcoming in putting together their annual lists of IT-related jobs that could be contracted out to the private sector, according to the Information Technology Association of America.

According to a formal challenge issued Oct. 29 by ITAA, several Commerce organizations have failed to disclose the full number of IT-related jobs that could be outsourced.

Federal agencies are required by the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998 to create an annual list of jobs that are not considered "inherently governmental" and can be contracted out to the private sector. As many as 52 agencies on Oct. 1 released their annual inventories of jobs they determined are not inherently governmental.

According to ITAA's challenge letter, sent on behalf of ITAA members by Olga Grkavac, executive vice president of ITAA's Enterprise Solutions Division, Commerce's Office of the Secretary in Washington, D.C., left out several major categories of IT jobs when it put together its commercial inventory, including office equipment maintenance, data processing activities, IT program management and others.

"Not only are these functions commercial, they are also indispensable to the operation of any modern office relying upon computers and software," ITAA said in a letter to Commerce.

Regional offices of the department's secretariat also failed to mention many categories of IT-related jobs, the ITAA letter stated. "It is difficult to believe that offices in the regions can be operated without [data processing activities] functions or other functions," according to the ITAA letter.

ITAA posed its most vehement challenge to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, which ITAA claimed did not include references to any data processing or communications activities on its inventory list. "It is unreasonable and not credible to believe that NIST's Office of Trademark Automated Systems, for instance, does not utilize ADP functions in any way," the ITAA challenge asserted. "We note that other agencies in the Department of Commerce accounted for these ADP functions, and there is no reason why NIST should not include all of its ADP and communications functions in its inventory.

"It is unlikely that some Commerce agencies require [data processing] services while others do not, or that listing by some [organizations] is proper while for others it is not."

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