OMB will not cut jobs at agencies that don’t meet competition targets

The Office of Management and Budget will not cut personnel at agencies that fail to comply with the Bush administration's competitive sourcing initiative, an OMB official said Thursday.

This statement rebuts a claim allegedly made by OMB representatives at a competitive sourcing conference in Washington earlier this year. The representatives reportedly said that OMB slashed personnel levels at two agencies for failing to meet competitive sourcing goals, according to Coast Guard documents obtained by Government Executive.

"OMB representatives noted that two agencies received forced reductions in FTE [full-time equivalents] during the latest round of budget submissions. These reductions were directly linked to agency noncompliance with the president's competitive sourcing goals," states the document, which is part of a Coast Guard desk reference for completing the 2002 inventory of commercial activities and inherently governmental functions.

But this statement is simply wrong, said Jack Kalavritinos, OMB's associate administrator for procurement. "[Office of Federal Procurement Policy Director] Angela Styles has said publicly that that is not what we intend to do," he said, denying that OMB had cut FTEs at two agencies. "Cutting FTE because of noncompliance with competitive sourcing is not our policy."

A union official questioned why the Coast Guard would make this claim if OMB didn't threaten FTE cuts during the conference. "The [Coast Guard's] leadership that produced the document has no reason to misinterpret OMB's position," said Brian DeWyngaert, executive assistant to Bobby Harnage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Kalavritinos could not say why the Coast Guard made this claim in its internal documents. The Coast Guard did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Coast Guard cited the OMB warning as a sign the Bush administration was serious about competitive sourcing. "The environment has changed significantly and we must change our approach accordingly," the documents said. "To avoid similar [cuts], we must move smartly and deliberately towards compliance." The service has identified 374 jobs that could be shifted to the private sector, including 99 jobs at the National Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, W.Va., which could be converted into a government corporation.

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