OMB wants fewer A-76 exemptions

M-05-12; 2005 Inventories of Commercial and Inherently Governmental Activities

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New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget on exemptions of federal jobs from competitive sourcing efforts promises greater scrutiny of agency decisions.

Starting this year, OMB officials will review the basis under which jobs not considered inherently governmental are still exempted by agency officials from federal competitive sourcing efforts, the memo states. The criteria for such so-called Code A exemptions have not been previously defined, the memo adds.

Agencies annually update which jobs are suitable for competitive sourcing under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act. OMB officials estimate that a quarter of the jobs that federal workers perform are not inherently governmental and not necessarily need to be performed by civil servants. The 2005 inventories are due to OMB by June 30.

Greater consistency in the definition of suitability for competition in the FAIR Act inventories has been a goal of David Safavian, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at OMB. The memo carries Safavian’s signature.

The new guidance instructs agencies that every single position within job categories, with the exception of contracting officers, should not necessarily be exempt from a public/private sector competition. Exemption should be granted only if its loss to the private sector would result “in substantial risk to the agency’s ability” to accomplish its mission, the memo states.

Agencies should strive to retain a sufficient number of civil servants for oversight purposes within job categories, the memo states. The best ratio of civil servants to contractors in a job category varies according to the nature of a particular function, according to the memo.

Likewise, particular jobs may be excluded from competition if they are performed by disabled individuals, but an entire job category cannot be excluded because the majority of employees are disabled, the memo says.

OMB is also in the process of developing a new database to house FAIR Act inventories. Beginning in 2006, agencies will able to submit their inventories directly into the Workforce Inventories Tracking Systems, the memo states.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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