Union sues to halt new A-76 rules

Fearing that vast numbers of federal employees could lose their jobs through new competitive sourcing rules, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn them.

The new Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, which took effect May 29, outlines the process agencies have to follow in putting jobs up for competition with private companies.

About 850,000 federal jobs could be at risk under current estimates. However, NTEU president Colleen Kelley fears that the number could grow as agencies use the new circular to define jobs as inherently governmental or commercial under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998. The 850,000 estimate is based on inventories conducted under the old A-76 circular. Agencies are carrying out FAIR Act inventories now, she said.

The NTEU suit claims that the revised A-76 circular "has illegally trumped Congress" in determining whether a federal job should be subject to such competition. The revised rules require agencies to apply a narrower definition of "inherently governmental," a designation which protects a job from competition, than is required under federal law, the suit alleges.

The union filed the suit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Like other federal employee unions, NTEU has opposed A-76 and the prospect that federal employees could be displaced in favor of private contractors.

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