Congress sheds sourcing limits

Legislative measures aimed at limiting federal competitive sourcing efforts failed to clear the omnibus hurdle as Congress passed a $388.4 billion combined-agency spending package for fiscal 2005.

Senate lawmakers seconded their House counterparts Nov. 21 by approving with one vote, nine spending bills rolled into a single package. President Bush is expected to sign the bill later this week.

Not included in the final version was a House amendment to Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act that would have prevented all agencies covered by it from using the using the revised A-76 circular, which governs competitive sourcing.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D-Md.), passed a House floor vote Sept. 21 and has since faced stiff resistance from White House officials, who issued a veto threat against the measure. The amendment's intent was to force Office of Management and Budget officials to rewrite the circular a second time, ending "the Administration's ideologically driven agenda to benefit private contractors over federal employees and taxpayers," Van Hollen said in a written statement at the time. The rules on competitive sourcing of federal workforce jobs underwent extensive revision last year following pressure from Congress and federal worker unions.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, (D-Md.) had also attached a similar amendment to the Treasury Transportation bill. The Senate version was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee but never faced an unaccompanied vote on the full Senate floor.

As one of five initiatives of the President's Management Agenda, competitive sourcing encourages agencies to cut costs by forcing federal employees uninvolved in core government functions to compete a most efficient organization strategy against private-sector bids to do the same work.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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