Industry is “deeply concerned” about a bill meant to bring work performed by contractors in house, Professional Services Council President Stan Soloway said in a May 5 letterÂ to bill sponsor Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
Mikulski introduced the Correction of Longstanding Errors in Agencies Unsustainable Procurements (CLEAN UP) Act last week. The bill would ban the use of public-private competitions until agencies ensure inherently governmental work and work closely associated with inherently governmental functions is performed by federal employees. Agencies would also have to inventory contracts and give feds the opportunity to compete for outsourced work, even if the work can be done by contractors.
Mikukski said last week that this bill would correct “the contracting abuses of the last eight years and bringing jobs that were wrongly awarded to private contractors back to where they belong – with our first-rate federal employees.”
But Soloway counters the legislation works at cross purposes with Mikulski’s goals of supporting the federal worker:
The ban on competitive sourcing studies across government has eliminated the only process that gives employees the opportunity to compete the commercial activities work. Absent the A-76 process, what competitive process should be implemented to ensure that any decision to insource work will result in meaningful cost and performance improvements?
Soloway also noted that work “closely associated with inherently governmental” jobs is not defined and there is “no logical reason” that such jobs must be done by feds.
The key is for agencies to carefully and strategically assess their missions and work to ensure that they have adequate internal capability in critical positions to provide the guidance, expertise and management necessary to achieve cost, schedule and performance goals. Your legislation would strip agencies of their ability to act strategically by replacing it with arbitrary workforce planning that may not be consistent with the agency’s or the taxpayers best interests.
Soloway has asked Mikulski to discuss PSC’s concerns surrounding the bill, noting that several federal contractors have offices and employees in Maryland.
Update, May 8, 1:20 p.m.: Sen. MilkulskiÂ has sent us this statement:
I appreciate that the PSC agrees that the contracting process should be Â fair and use taxpayer’s money efficiently. However, what’s not taken into account is the already substantial success of efforts to identify wrongly outsourced jobs and bring them back to performance by Federal Employees. The Army has announced savings of $300 million through the in-sourcing of 1,400 contractor jobs. Secretary of Defense Gates plans to expand this program to bring 30,000 jobs back to performance by federal employees over the next five years. Secretary Gates is committed to this effort for the same reason I am — it saves money for the taxpayers and allows the Department he leads to better fulfill its critical mission. My legislation builds on Secretary Gates’ success and Â takes it government wide.