Fighting words

When introducing his amendment in the House, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) made his case for rejecting recent revisions to the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76, which governs competition between the public and private sectors.

His key points were:

* OMB's new circular does not allow federal employees to "organize themselves flexibly so that they can compete on an even playing field, which makes it difficult "to achieve efficiencies and promote higher levels of performance," according to Van Hollen.

* The revised circular does not require contractors to at least show as part of their bids that there are going to be appreciable savings. "We should, at the end of the day, at least be able to show the taxpayers that we are going to get a better deal than at the beginning of the day," he said.

* It artificially inflates the cost of the federal employees' bids because it arbitrarily assumes about a 12 percent overhead as part of an agency's bid, he said.

* It discourages the private sector from providing adequate health care benefits to its employees. The private sector would "achieve an unfair advantage by providing little or no health benefits to its employees," he said.

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