Biz groups want Congress to protect outsourcing

A group of business and taxpayer organizations is urging Congress to strengthen outsourcing and limit insourcing language in the upcoming fiscal 2012 appropriations bills.

The 31 organizations in the Business Coalition for Fair Competition are seeking support for provisions in the bills that uphold competitive sourcing and increased contracting with the private sector, according to a June 22 news release.

Such bills ought to be “free of damaging language that inhibits the ability of federal agencies to contract with the private sector, including small business,” the group said.

Competitive sourcing, a policy advanced by the George W. Bush administration, refers to federal agencies’ option to outsource certain activities if the private sector can perform them more cost-effectively than the government can. Those public/private competitions are generally conducted using methodologies outlined in the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76.

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The coalition maintains that expanding outsourcing and reducing insourcing would strengthen private job creation and innovation. However, supporters of insourcing have argued that federal contracting has grown too quickly and contractors might now be performing work more appropriately handled by federal employees.

The coalition sent a letter to Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, expressing support for two recent amendments related to Circular A-76 in the spending bills for the Homeland Security and Agriculture departments. They also advocated that similar action be taken on upcoming bills.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) introduced an amendment to the spending bill for DHS that strikes down a proposed moratorium on certain Circular A-76 competitions at the agency. Sessions’ amendment was approved by a vote of 218-204, the coalition said.

Sessions also sponsored an amendment to the USDA budget bill that withdraws certain requirements that must be met before the agency can conduct Circular A-76 competitions. That amendment was approved by a vote of 226-199.

Appropriations bills for defense, energy and water development, and financial services are pending, but all contain language restricting Circular A-76 competitions, according to the coalition.

Organizations signing the letter include the Northern Virginia Technology Council, TechAmerica, Associated General Contractors of America and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jun 24, 2011

There are some unrealistic contractor relationships with the government, but to prove that overall government operations for most any named function costs the taxpayer less than outsourcing is a sorely mistaken perception. From first-hand experience I have seen a private contractor get something done in 3 months that the agency we were supporting had goofed around with for 2 years. The beauracracy is only appropriate for our most basic infrastructure needs: military, roads, the basics.....

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 Jim DC Area

It has already gone too far. We are so outsourced that we have no technical expertise to even know what we are supervising!!! The contractors can run roughshod over GTLs who have no clue about technology and will pay anything to get the work done.

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 1govauditor

Any legislator who votes for outsourcing government work is planning to line their own pockets. Any educated business person understands the wisdom of Machiavelli's the Prince. They should re-read his essay on mercenaries but substitute the word contractors for mercenaries. What was true in the 1500s remains true today. Mercenaries/contractors are just in it for the money and have no interest in protecting the citizens.

Thu, Jun 23, 2011

"Contractors might now be performing work more appropriately handled by federal employees"? There's no might about it. There are contractors performing inherently governmental functions. Sometimes they are allowed to make decisiions where there is a conflict of interest between their company and the government. Should you pay the fox to run the chicken coup? If you have any doubt, just check out how the Coast Guard lost its rear to Northrup-Grumman.

Thu, Jun 23, 2011 RT

Why is it that once a contractor is onboard, they can rarely be replaced by another contractor? So why call this outsourcing? Call it semi outsourcing since - this may surprise you- we aren't all brilliant and our (govt agencies) abilities to establish requirements, estimate and manage contractors is as close to the way Congress thinks it can happen as real police work is to CSI.

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