Denett: Proposed bills include "poison pills" for competitive sourcing

Lawmakers are working on several major bills that could undermine the Bush administration's competitive-sourcing initiative, according to the government's top procurement official.

Language in those bills would make it difficult to create a fair environment in which federal employees and private companies compete for non-inherently governmental work.

“Unfortunately people in control of Congress have issues with competitive sourcing. They continue a drumbeat, saying it’s unfair for federal employees and that we go too far,” said Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in a speech at the Government Electronic and Information Technology Association’s conference.

“I hope this Congress does not continue to slip what I term ‘poison pills’ in a variety of legislation, waving the flag of fairness for government employees,” he said.

Recently, the Senate included a provision in its Fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that would level the playing field for civilian defense employees in public-private competitions conducted under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76.

The bill would allow federal employees to appeal decisions to send work to private contractors and would prohibit departmental quotas for holding the competitions.

Competitive sourcing is an important tool, and “it’s one we should not be deprived of,” said Denett, who worked at five different departments before retiring to the private sector. He said he saw the benefits of competitive sourcing during his time at the departments.

People opposed to competitive sourcing say administration officials often outsource inherently governmental functions, Denett said, but that is not the case.

"Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. He points out that federal employees won 87 percent of competitions held in 2006 and 83 percent of competitions between 2003 and 2006.

As for the defense authorization bill, the Senate and House have passed their versions of the legislation and a group of senators and representatives are working out the differences.

The administration has said it opposes the bill.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.