Amendment blocks funds to A-76 revisions

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. June 30, 2006, to add more information.

The House approved by voice vote an appropriations bill amendment that would halt funds for the Office of Management and Budget’s 3-year-old revisions to Circular A-76.

The amendment, made to the Fiscal 2007 Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, would impact only agencies under the bill, which the House passed June 29 in a 393-23 vote.

“Fair competition in government contracting is a good thing,” said Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), who sponsored the amendment. “Unfortunately, that is not the case with the current, deeply flawed A-76 process.”

Unlike private contractors, government workers cannot appeal questionable contracting decisions to the Government Accountability Office, he said.

“I offered my amendment to increase attention to this problem,” Andrews said.

“Under current authority provided by Congress, the appropriate channels for protest are provided in the event decisions are disputed," an OMB spokesperson said. "It is important that we continue to work with Congress to ensure we utilize and strengthen valuable management tools.”

OMB revised the circular May 29, 2003, to generate more public/private competition for contracts.

“Many of the government’s 850,000 [full-time employees whom] agencies have identified as performing commercial activities…remain insulated from the dynamics of competition,” states OMB’s Federal Register notice from that date.

The revision was intended to reverse that trend.

The revision would require agencies to use the process, particularly when contracts are awarded without competition, and it allows agencies to expand best-value trade-offs in selecting contracts. The changes make agencies accountable for results from public/private competitions.

OMB’s revisions tilted the competitions to favor the private sector, allowing more government work to go to private companies, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said in a statement.

“The Andrews-Jones amendment would force OMB to go back to the drawing board and develop an A-76 process for agencies funded in this bill that is fair to federal employees and a better deal for taxpayers,” Kelley said.

“Competitive sourcing guidelines have resulted in significant savings for our taxpayers and ensure fair public/private competition practices," OMB said. "Reports show that government employees have won more than 80 percent of the work competed while generating an estimated $5 billion in savings over the next 10 years.”

The bill has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.

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