Agencies say most federal jobs not 'inherently governmental'

About 900,000 federal employees-more than half of the civilian workforce-do work that could be performed in the private sector, according to lists released by 115 agencies and compiled by

The first-ever governmentwide tally of jobs that could be outsourced, released under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act, indicates that fewer federal jobs are inherently governmental than are candidates to be contracted out. The 115 agencies that released inventories employ a total of 1.7 million workers, so only about 850,000 federal jobs are inherently governmental, according to the FAIR Act lists.

Under the FAIR Act, if a private sector company could perform the work, an employee's job must be included on the outsourcing list. The lists also indicate whether agencies plan to actually outsource the jobs or if they plan to keep the work in-house.

The Defense Department, which employs 662,900 civilian workers, listed 504,000 civilian jobs on its FAIR Act inventory that could be performed in the private sector. But the Pentagon is considering outsourcing only 304,000 of those jobs, and has designated only about 229,000 jobs as candidates to be contracted out.

Once DoD jobs are designated for outsourcing, workers undergo a public-private competition, which gives the in-house employees a chance to defend their jobs against private companies. About 50 percent of public-private competitions result in jobs being outsourced.

Private contractors are combing through the FAIR Act inventories to see if they think even more federal jobs should be included on the lists, while employees and unions are reviewing the lists to determine if jobs on the inventories should be re-classified as inherently governmental.

The FAIR Act inventories were released in three waves in 1999-one in September, one in October and one in December. Updated inventories will be released annually.

The FAIR Act lists are compiled in's FAIR Act Report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.