Depots could outsource more work under Defense proposal

Private contractors could perform more work at military depots under a Defense Department proposal now before Congress.

The measure would modify the so-called 50-50 rule, which prohibits depots from spending more than half of their maintenance dollars on contract repairs. Under the new proposal, the military services could shift more depot maintenance work to contractors, but would be required to perform at least half of all depot-style repairs at the depots themselves.

This means that contractors could handle more repairs so long as they performed the work at military depots.

The Pentagon believes the change would keep work at the depots, a concern of members of Congress with depots in their districts, while encouraging depots to form new partnerships with private companies to handle their workload.

"The proposed change . . . keeps half of the workload at government depots, but it encourages partnerships with the private sector by allowing some of that work to be performed on the depot by private sector partners," said spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Donald Sewell.

But the leaders of the House Depot Caucus oppose the measure. On Thursday, Caucus Co-Chairman Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas, accused Defense's leadership of "hubris" for trying to change the 50-50 rule.

"Some members of the Depot Caucus have voiced opposition to [the proposal] in that it is just more hubris to undermine the nation's in-house depot maintenance capacity by eliminating the 50-50 rule," said Ortiz, who is also the ranking member of the Military Readiness Subcommittee of the Housed Armed Services Committee. "We have that rule for a reason, so we have a ready source for repair. While the nation prosecutes a new war, that rule is all the more important," he said.

The Republican Co-Chairman of the Depot Caucus, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., endorsed Ortiz' comments, according to Lanier Swann, a spokeswoman for Jones.

Defense considered asking for broad new authority to manage its depots, including the outright elimination of the 50-50 rule and six other statutes that affect depot management, before opting to ask for more limited flexibilities.

The Depot Caucus is wary of any changes to depot rules because of this earlier proposal, an observer said. "It did a lot of damage," said one source. "I think a lot of members are convinced that [DoD leadership] is out to get them."

The current proposal is Section 324 in Defense's recommendations for the fiscal 2004 authorization bill.

The American Federation of Government Employees and 12 other labor groups also oppose Section 324. "[It] would lead to the destruction of any in-house depot maintenance capacity," said a March 19 letter from the groups to the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

Industry supports the proposal, according to Pete Steffes, vice president for government affairs at the National Defense Industrial Association.

Many military services have struggled to comply with the 50-50 rule in recent years. The Air Force in particular has struggled to meet the 50-50 restriction, and the General Accounting Office has questioned whether any of the military services are actually complying with the outsourcing rule.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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