White House: Appropriations bill language would impede management agenda

The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto the House version of the fiscal 2006 Transportation-Treasury appropriations bill over language that could hinder the President's Management Agenda.

The bill, (H.R. 3058), under debate in the House Thursday, includes provisions that could dampen plans to implement e-government initiatives and personnel reforms, the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a policy statement. Lawmakers also plan to offer amendments that could unravel progress on competitive sourcing, one of the more controversial management agenda items.

"The administration will continue to work closely with the House on finding the best way to implement the President's Management Agenda," OMB stated. "However, if the final version of the bill were to significantly erode the PMA, the president's senior advisers would recommend he veto the bill."

Language in preliminary versions of the House bill would limit agency contributions to e-government initiatives and would cut funds for the Office of Personnel Management's "efforts to develop better performance measures and conduct program evaluations" by $3 million, the White House stated. The bill passed at the committee level also prohibits OPM from implementing civil service reform, the White House stated.

The White House also objected to the 3.1 percent civilian pay raise proposed in the legislation. Such a raise would exceed President Bush's request by about $1 billion. By applying the raise across government, Congress would limit the Homeland Security and Defense departments' ability to "design and implement a modern personnel and pay system that best fits their needs," OMB stated.

"Any recruitment or retention problems facing the government are limited to a few areas and occupations, and do not warrant such an arbitrary across-the-board increase," the policy statement argued.

Amendments expected to be offered during House debate over the bill would bar agencies from running public-private job competitions using a May 2003 version of Circular A-76, the document containing rules on competitive sourcing, and would prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from transferring federal flight service jobs to Lockheed Martin. FAA officials decided to transfer the work in February, after conducting a public-private competition.

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