Final round of outsourcing lists released

Nearly one-half of civilian jobs in the federal government could be outsourced to private firms under the 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act, according to the final year 2000 list of jobs released by the Office of Management and Budget Friday.

The FAIR Act requires agencies to review their workforces each year and come up with lists of federal jobs that could be performed by contractors. OMB reviews the lists, which are released each year in three rounds, before they go to Congress and the public.

The final list for year 2000 inventories covers tens of thousands of commercial jobs at 49 agencies, including the departments of Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Treasury and Transportation, and a number of smaller agencies. The first round of 2000 FAIR Act lists was released in July and the second in December.

Overall, 115 federal agencies submitted lists of 1.7 million federal positions. Of those jobs, 849,389, or roughly 50 percent, were identified as 'commercial in nature', meaning the work could be performed in the private sector. The list has not changed much from last year, when about 850,000 jobs were listed as being candidates for contracting out.

The Defense Department listed 452,807 civilian jobs that could be performed in the private sector on its FAIR Act inventory. But only 178,771 of those jobs are truly candidates to be contracted out. Most of the other positions are exempt from commercial competition for various reasons.

The Energy Department listed 9,941 jobs that could be contracted out, while the Interior Department identified about 18,000. For a complete list of FAIR Act inventories, see GovExec.com's FAIR Act Report.

The law does not require agencies to outsource any of these jobs and unions and contractors can challenge jobs left on or off the lists. Wiley Pearson, a policy analyst for the American Federation of Federal Employees said the union was reviewing the lists and would challenge all jobs it believes cannot be contracted out.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council and former deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition reform said the association will challenge some positions, but isn't inclined to be exhaustive in its challenges because the process is time-consuming and often fruitless.

Still, Soloway considers the FAIR Act a useful tool for offering a broad picture of the amount of work the government does that could be done elsewhere. "On some levels it isn't taken seriously enough," he said. But, the FAIR Act provides "a base to discuss what the government should be doing. It's not an end in itself," he said.

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