EPA lays out competitive sourcing details

The Environmental Protection Agency has selected 10 functions that may be ripe for inclusion in the agency’s push to competitively source an average of 200 positions a year through 2008.

Among the functions the agency’s Competitive Sourcing Council selected for possible competitive sourcing are information technology, records management and financial services. Also included are some grants management positions such as grants management specialists and project officers.

The preliminary list was shared with unions last week and will be discussed with assistant and regional administrators July 13. A final list of recommendations will be forwarded to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson by the end of the month, according to an agency statement.

Competitive sourcing is a controversial part of the President's Management Agenda that encourages agencies to compete jobs considered not inherently governmental with the private sector in an effort to cut government overhead.

Which jobs within the final functions selected for competition will be put up for bid will depend on the specific competition, said Luis Luna, EPA assistant administrator for administration and resource management, in a written statement.

Competitions require “considerable effort, taking weeks and even months following the decision on which functions to compete,” he said. “Only then will we have a fuller idea of how many actual positions could be affected by the competitions.”

Competition will not automatically result in jobs lost from inside the agency, he said. Competitive sourcing “means that the agency will be given the chance to show that our employees can do the job better and for less than outside competitors.”

Unions representing EPA workers are skeptical, however. The agency already relies heavily on contractors, said Diana Price, an American Federation of Government Employees procurement specialist. Within IT, the ratio is 10 to 1, according to EPA officials. Pressure from the Office of Management and Budget is forcing the agency to tip the balance even further, Price said.

“The only factor that matters to OMB is whether EPA is allowing contractors to get their hands on more taxpayers' dollars,” she added.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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