White House urges full competitive sourcing, e-gov funding

Congress and the Bush administration are renewing their battles over competitive sourcing and e-gov funding. The White House today urged the House to remove funding restrictions on competing federal jobs with industry in the Department of the Interior, Environment and related Agencies appropriations bill, H.R. 2361.

“The administration strongly opposes provisions that would restrict agencies in the bill from improving program management through competitive sourcing,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy. It recommended that the House work with the administration to refine reporting on costs associated with competitions required under the Office of Management and Budget A-76 circular.

Under terms of the bill, Interior can spend up to $3.45 million to initiate or continue competitive sourcing studies in fiscal 2006. The legislation also restricts the Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department, to $2.5 million for competitive sourcing studies.

“This effort was mismanaged in the past,” the Appropriations Committee said of the Forest Service efforts in the bill. The agency is also exempt from implementing post-competition accountability guidelines to save when fewer than 65 employees were involved in the competition, the agency won the decision and no net savings resulted from the competition.

The spending bill directs that any report on competitive sourcing studies detail all the costs incurred to develop, implement and manage the competition, including outside consultants, contractors and training.

Interior will net $162 million and the Forest Service $16 million in savings over the next several years from competitions they conducted last year, said the statement, which OMB released.

The White House also pressed Congress to fund the governmentwide Safecom and Disaster Management programs, two of the Quicksilver projects. The bill prohibits the use of funds for Safecom and Disaster.gov activities. The Appropriations Committee said those funds should instead cover shortfalls of other programs not covered in the budget request.

“Without these public safety programs, responder organizations would lose a key tool and critical capability, thereby impacting their effectiveness in responding to incidents,” the White House said. Both programs support the agencies’ efforts to fight wildland fires, respond to volcano, earthquake and landslide incidents.

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