Outsourcing panel agrees to ground rules

The final recommendations of a new General Accounting Office panel studying federal outsourcing issues will likely require the approval of two-thirds of the panel, or eight of the panel's 12 members, according to Comptroller General David Walker. Members of the GAO Commercial Activities Panel agreed to a series of ground rules during their first meeting, held May 8 at GAO. The panel agreed that its final recommendations should require the approval of more than a simple majority of panel members and that the panel would issue one final report, Walker said. "We tentatively agreed to a two-thirds requirement in order [for a recommendation] to be deemed a panel recommendation," said Walker. "We also agreed there would not be any minority reports, but that individual members would have the right to include individual statements regarding the panel's findings and recommendations if they so desired." The panel will look at issues ranging from public-private competition to implementation of the 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act. GAO was directed to convene the panel and provide recommendations to Congress by May 2002 under a provision in the fiscal 2001 Defense Authorization Act. The two-thirds threshold is significant because the panel includes two representatives of contractors and five officials in the Bush administration, which has made increasing public-private competition a top federal management goal. Requiring eight of 12 members to approve the panel's findings improves the likelihood that the panel's recommendations will have the support of most groups with a stake in outsourcing issues, according to an official familiar with the situation. "If you can't get a supramajority, [the recommendations] won't have much weight," said the official. Board member Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, characterized the two-thirds requirement as a "working" guideline that could be revisited in the future. "If we repeatedly hit two-thirds on our votes, we would revisit the process, because then we have another problem," she said. Walker emphasized that the panel could produce meaningful recommendations without finding unanimous agreement on every issue. "We have to recognize that we'll never achieve perfection in this area, and reasonable people can and will disagree, but there is a significant opportunity to make meaningful progress in this important area," he said. The panel also decided to hold three public hearings on outsourcing issues in the next few months. The first hearing will be held June 11 in Washington. The panel plans to hold hearings in Indianapolis and San Antonio, Texas, in August, according to Kelley. Walker also mentioned that the panel would break into four working groups to explore specific outsourcing issues in greater detail. "Basically the way it works is that any panel member can participate in any working group they want to," he said. "We want to make sure the working groups have one representative from each of the major groups on the panel, to ensure proper checks and balances." Members described the first meeting as a productive exchange of information. "I thought it went quite well," said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an association representing contractors.

"I think it was really good for a first meeting, in large part because of the framework set out by David Walker," added Kelley. The time and location of the June 11 hearing in Washington will be posted on the GAO website and in the Federal Register.

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

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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