Senators seek to protect Justice employees from competition

In the latest congressional challenge to President Bush's drive to open up more government work to competition from the private sector, Senate appropriators are trying to protect hundreds of Justice Department employees from possible outsourcing.

Senators have added language to the spending bill for the Commerce, Justice and State departments that would limit job competitions at Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which distributes almost $4 billion in grants to state and local governments. Employees who monitor grants and programs and handle statistics would be off-limits for competition under the measure, which is section 108 in the spending bill, S. 1585.

"The committee didn't agree with the administration's plan for competitive sourcing with OJP, specifically the notion that contractors could provide grants better than government workers," said Tim Boulay, a spokesman for the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee approved the $38.4 billion bill on Sept. 4.

Stu Smith, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2830 at OJP, said the provision would protect almost all workers in the 700-person office from competitive sourcing. "Ninety-five percent of the people in this agency are covered by that language," he said.

The office has not begun any job competitions, but Deborah Daniels, the assistant attorney general for OJP, has told employees that the office planned to launch its competitive sourcing effort this fall. The office put competitive sourcing on hold from April to June while it conducted an activity-based costing study to determine the costs associated with OJP functions. But the study failed to yield enough data for use in job competitions, Daniels told employees in an Aug. 27 e-mail obtained by Government Executive.

"The [activity-based costing] survey was voluntary, and, simply put, we didn't have enough people volunteer to give us complete and usable information," she wrote. "Although this is quite disappointing, we must move forward."

Smith hailed the Senate provision as validation of his view that federal employees should perform grant management and oversight work. "We have great concerns about the constitutionality of the executive branch delegating away its authority to private firms," he said.

The Senate bill also requires OJP to notify Congress 15 days before it outsources any federal jobs.

Neither OJP nor the Office of Management and Budget responded to requests for comment on the Senate provision.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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