OMB releases final round of 2001 outsourcing lists

The Office of Management and Budget on Thursday released the third and final round of 2001 lists of agency jobs that could be performed in the private sector under the 1998 Federal Activities and Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act.

Seventeen agencies, including the Departments of Transportation and Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency, were included in the third round of 2001 FAIR Act lists published by OMB in Thursday's Federal Register. Thursday's list is the last round of 2001 FAIR Act job inventories, according to an OMB official.

The third round covers 556,084 federal jobs, of which 126,078, or about 22.7 percent, are eligible to be performed in the private sector under the FAIR Act's rules. To date, OMB has reviewed the outsourcing lists of 108 agencies. Of the more than 1 million jobs in those agencies, 428,341, or about 40 percent, are potential candidates for outsourcing, agencies reported.

The Defense Department has yet to list any jobs-except those in its inspector general office-on any of the 2001 job inventories, which OMB began publishing in September. Defense identified 260,000 jobs in 2000 as eligible for competition under the FAIR Act.

As of Thursday afternoon, neither Defense nor OMB officials could explain why the 2001 Defense inventory had not been issued.

The FAIR Act requires agencies to compile annual lists of jobs that are commercial in nature and could be performed by contractors. Every year, OMB reviews the lists and releases them to Congress and the public in three rounds. Agencies' FAIR Act inventories for 2001 were due to OMB on June 30.

Defense's absence from the 2001 inventories may signal a shift in the attitudes of agencies toward outsourcing, according to Brendan Danaher, a policy analyst at the American Federation of Government Employees.

"The Defense Department leads the way in government procurement and government contracting, so if they are backing away from arbitrary privatization, then other agencies need to think twice about arbitrary privatization," Danaher said. "We have heard through back channels that there are real concerns in the Pentagon over OMB's headlong rush to privatize."

OMB requires agencies to post their FAIR Act inventories on their Web sites. But the inventories can be difficult to find. Even though OMB provided a link for each agency, in many cases the link pointed to the agency's home page, with no reference to where the FAIR Act list is located on its Web site.

In March 2001, the Bush administration revitalized the FAIR Act by ordering agencies to directly outsource or perform public-private competitions on 5 percent of their 2000 FAIR Act inventories, or 42,500 federal jobs, by October of this year. In budget guidance for fiscal 2003, OMB directed agencies to outsource or perform public-private competitions on an additional 10 percent of all commercial jobs by October 2003, for a total of 15 percent.

Under the FAIR Act, contractors, unions and employees can challenge the lists if they think jobs should have been, or should not have been, included. In 1999, when the first FAIR Act lists were published, contractors and unions filed several challenges with agencies, but only about 6 percent of the challenges to the largest federal agencies' FAIR Act lists were successful.

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