White House opposes pay parity, job competition restrictions

The Bush administration announced Thursday that it opposes language in the House version of the fiscal 2004 defense authorization bill calling for pay parity for military service members and civilian federal employees.

"Civilian and military pay linkage is not necessary," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy on the House bill (H.R. 1588).

The administration also said it "strongly objects" to an effort to prohibit the use of goals for putting Defense jobs up for competition with the private sector.

The bill includes a 4.1 percent pay increase for uniformed military personnel next year. The administration backs that increase, but has proposed a 2 percent raise for civilian employees. The statement called the civilian raise "very generous at this time when many in the private sector are unemployed or are facing shrinking paychecks."

The OMB statement also voiced opposition to the section of the House bill that prohibits the use of goals for "competitive sourcing" initiatives, under which jobs held by federal employees are put up for competition with the private sector.

The section "severely impedes" OMB, the statement said, and "needlessly delays implementation of the soon-to-be-released revised OMB Circular A-76"-which sets the rules for public-private competitions-until Defense completes a report on such competitions. The Bush administration is pushing federal agencies to put 127,500 jobs up for competition by the end of 2003.

The statement said the administration also opposes:

  • A mandate in the bill that Defense cut its military and civilian acquisition workforce by 25 percent over five years.
  • A $1.7 billion cut in information technology-related programs.
  • A $161 million reduction in the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter jet program.
  • An increase in the size of the active-duty armed forces by 6,240 personnel more than what the administration requested.
Richard H.P. Sia contributed to this report.
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