IT jobs escaping competition

OMB notice on second fiscal 2001 inventories

The latest round of inventories from agencies listing what positions are potentially available for outsourcing follows the pattern of the first round by making most information technology positions exempt from competition.

The 32 inventories released Nov. 14 by the Office of Management and Budget are required under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998. OMB released the first 56 fiscal 2001 inventories in September, and the final set will be released before the end of the year.

Agencies are required to list all positions that could be performed by the private sector and then determine which ones should be opened to outside competition and which should be considered exempt from such competition. As part of the President's Management Agenda, the Bush administration is requiring agencies to compete at least 5 percent of their FAIR Act inventory positions in fiscal 2002, and another 10 percent in fiscal 2003.

The Education Department, for example, lists 177 IT positions as potentially commercial — a fairly small number because many of its functions are already outsourced, according to the department's inventory, which designates almost 150 of the positions as available for competition.

But the Interior Department, with almost 2,600 IT positions listed on its inventory, designated more than 2,400 as exempt from competition.

On the other hand, the Commerce Department took an unusual approach and listed positions considered inherently governmental in addition to those available for outsourcing.

The inherently governmental list is not required under the FAIR Act, and although OMB asked agencies to submit those lists as part of this year's inventories, agencies are not required to release them.

Vendors and industry groups, which are allowed to challenge the FAIR Act inventories, have criticized the lack of inherently governmental lists, saying it is impossible to tell whether there are other positions that should be challenged.

The Commerce inventory includes 2,500 IT positions that are potentially commercial and almost 600 that are inherently governmental.

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