Union bashes competitive sourcing

Chanting slogans and holding signs, about 35 Labor Department employees gathered for an hour this week to denounce the Bush administration's policy of competitive sourcing.

One of five initiatives under the President's Management Agenda, competitive sourcing encourages agencies to cut costs by forcing agency employees to compete against outside contractors for work not considered core government functions.

A recent Labor competitive sourcing study found $2 million in savings during five years by moving to the agency's most efficient organization proposal for the printing and reproduction services function within the administration and management office.

The study's results sparked Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) to hold the rally at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. "From our point of view, it's a lose-lose situation," said Larry Drake, AFGE Local 12 president. "Even if the in-house bid wins, people are still hurt."

Most of the savings will be achieved by reducing the pay grade of existing employees, according to union officials.

Five existing employees will see their pay grade reduced by two levels, another will be downgraded by three levels and a vacant position will be lowered two levels, according to union documents.

The number of full-time equivalent federal employees at the printing shop will be reduced from 13.8 to 9.3, although no existing employees will be laid off, according to AFGE officials. Some vacant positions will not be filled, and two full-time equivalent positions were reassigned within Labor, said David Richardson, AFGE Local 12 secretary.

Carlus Ellerbe, one of the affected printing specialists, said competitive sourcing amounts to outsiders telling the government "they can do it for less, or we're not doing it efficiently," he said. "That to me is offensive."

Government jobs outsourced or awarded to the federal agency most efficient organization will yield $1.1 billion in savings during the next three to five years, according to a recent report from the Office of Management and Budget.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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