FAIR Act instructions detailed

"Year 2002 Inventory of Commercial Activities"

Seeking to improve agencies' lists of government jobs that could be performed by industry, the Office of Management and Budget last week released a memo with new detailed instructions for the fiscal 2002 inventories.

Under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998, agencies must provide an annual list of the functions performed by federal employees that could be outsourced to the private sector.

The Bush administration plans to use these inventories as the basis for the competitive sourcing initiative in the President's Management Agenda — which includes a requirement to compete at least 5 percent of the fiscal 2002 inventories and another 10 percent in fiscal 2003. So OMB is trying to ensure agencies' inventories are as complete and accurate as possible, according to the memo. "As a result of these amendments, OMB expects to conduct a more thorough review of agency inventory submissions and will seek improved consistency within and among agencies in the determination of what is commercial or inherently governmental," wrote Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).

For fiscal 2002, agencies must use an OMB-provided Microsoft Corp. Excel spreadsheet, filled in following explicit instructions. That includes calling for agencies to provide clear justification of any time a function is classified as exempt from competition.

Agencies are to submit the spreadsheet via e-mail and in hard copy to their OMB Resource Management Organization point of contact as well as the OFPP.

To assist in the analysis of the inventories, agencies are to provide OMB with a single submission listing both the commercial jobs and the inherently governmental jobs — as was required last year. After the inventories are reviewed, agencies will only have to release a list of commercial jobs.

Some agencies decided last year on their own to release the full inventories, including the inherently governmental positions. This pleased industry but concerned federal employee unions, because having the full inventory makes it easier for the private sector to find more positions to challenge and claim they could be outsourced.

However, this year, "agencies should anticipate the possibility that, after review and consultations, OMB may request the release of inherently governmental inventories," Styles wrote.

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