Competitive sourcing measures go to conference

OMB Circular A-76

The Senate easily passed measures intended to restore some rights to federal workers under new competitive sourcing rules.

The amendment proposed by Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to the Transportation and Treasury Appropriations Bill passed late last week by a vote of 95 to one.

Voinovich's amendment would:

* Grant federal employee groups appeal rights if they lose a competition.

* Remove a requirement that federal employees who win a competition face a re-competition every five years.

* Require agencies to allocate adequate funding to contract oversight offices.

* Forbid private sector contractors who win competitions from moving any of the affected jobs overseas.

The bill now goes to conference to be reconciled with the House version. The House earlier had passed an amendment by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to forbid the Office of Management and Budget from using appropriated funds to implement the new rules altogether.

OMB Circular A-76 governs the process of opening federal jobs to competition from private-sector firms. OMB published a revised A-76 in May intended to make the competition process faster, but federal employee unions and other opponents say the Bush administration is simply trying to privatize much of the government.

The White House has threatened to veto any appropriations bill that weakens competitive sourcing.

"Throughout my public career I've lived by the mantra that government needs to work harder and smarter, and do more, with less," Voinovich said in a written statement. "By allowing the federal government to find the best way to deliver non-core services — things like laundry, trash collection, building maintenance, or data processing — taxpayers will save money and receive the best quality."

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