No need to fear FAIR Act?
- By William Matthews
- Oct 10, 2000
Two dozen agencies have declared 195,000 federal jobs to be "not inherently
governmental," which implies that they could be contracted out to the private
sector. But there is little likelihood that many of the jobs will be outsourced
The government is going through the motions of complying with the 1998 Federal
Activities Inventory Reform Act. The act calls for agencies to produce an
annual inventory of jobs that indicates whether a job is "inherently governmental"
and must be performed by a federal employee, or if it is "a commercial activity"
that could be performed by a contract worker.
The 195,000 figure is sure to multiply as more agency inventories are released
by the Office of Management and Budget. But few federal workers need fear
for their jobs.
"I don't know yet if [the inventories] have led to any outsourcing. I'd
be surprised if the answer was yes," said an auditor for the General Accounting
A GAO review of 1999 inventories showed that more than 900,000 jobs were
deemed "not inherently governmental," but more than a year later, only 580
of those jobs were being considered for contracting out.
Federal agencies have made clear their resistance to outsourcing. Of the
900,000 jobs identified as potentially "commercial," about 513,000 were
also declared exempt from consideration for outsourcing, GAO wrote in a
report to Congress.
Although the FAIR Act has failed to trigger much contracting out, it has
sparked a furious counterattack by federal employee unions.
The American Federation of Government Employees has lined up more than 202
congressional cosponsors for legislation that would temporarily halt contracting
out. However, the legislation — the Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability
in Contracting Act — is stalled in the House and will probably expire when