OMB weighs changes to job competition process

The Bush administration is contemplating wide-ranging changes to rules that allow federal jobs to be directly outsourced to private companies, Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Angela Styles told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

Amid concerns that agencies may be misusing the rules, which govern streamlined job competitions and direct conversions, Styles said the Office of Management and Budget is considering changing how the government competes the jobs of small groups of federal employees.

"Our concern has been that over the past two years, agencies have made decisions to directly convert that have not been in the best interest of the taxpayer," Styles told the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We do not want that to continue."

Under current rules, agencies may directly outsource work involving 10 or fewer federal employees to the private sector. Agencies may also hold streamlined competitions on functions performed by 65 or fewer federal employees. In streamlined competitions, in-house employees do not form a "most effective organization" as they do in larger job competitions. The competition simply pits the current unit-which has not restructured itself to be more competitive-against private firms. Some observers believe this puts federal employees at a disadvantage.

OMB is also acting to counter a perception that its rewrite of OMB Circular A-76-the rulebook of federal outsourcing-is intended to encourage direct conversions. In response to questions from Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Styles said direct conversions would not be mentioned in the new circular itself, a change from the draft circular issued by OMB in November. "We are even in the process of discussing. . . eliminating direct conversions altogether," she told Levin.

After the hearing, Styles told reporters that OMB is studying whether to eliminate direct conversions "as they exist right now." She said OMB is looking at a variety of alternatives, including a process designed by the Interior Department that allows agencies to hold competitions on work involving 10 or fewer employees. Under the Interior process, federal employees can keep their jobs if they could perform the work at a lower cost than private firms. OMB already has allowed the Treasury, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services departments to use Interior's method for credit toward their competitive sourcing goals.

Revamping the direct conversion process is just one issue that OMB is wrestling with as it finalizes the new A-76 process, Styles said after the hearing. "We still have direct conversions, we still have appeal issues that we are considering," she said, adding that any changes to the direct conversion process would have to be approved by OMB Director Mitch Daniels.

When asked if the new circular would be released by late April, she said, "We're going to try."

During the hearing, Styles said the new circular would contain "very aggressive deadlines" for finishing public-private competitions, although she did not endorse the 12-month time limit contained in the draft circular. At Wednesday's hearing, Comptroller General David Walker repeated his view that most competitions cannot be finished within 12 months.

Styles also said OMB would work to provide agencies with training and resources when they start using the new A-76 process.

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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