Army grants first A-76 outsourcing waiver

For the first time ever, the Army this week issued a waiver of the requirements of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, meaning the service will contract out hundreds of jobs without giving employees a chance to compete against private contractors to keep the work.

On Thursday, the Army's Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., asked private contractors to submit proposals for a logistics modernization contract. The modernization will displace up to 500 Army employees at software centers in Chambersburg, Pa., and St. Louis, Mo.

Circular A-76 gives federal employees the chance to defend their jobs in competition against private firms before an agency can outsource their work. However, on Wednesday, Army headquarters granted CECOM a waiver from the A-76 process, allowing the command to directly contract out the work at the two software centers.

Under the contract, officially announced Thursday, a private company will run the Army's wholesale supply operation, managing computer systems to procure and oversee stores of equipment, spare parts and supplies worldwide. CECOM is requiring contractors to provide a "soft landing" to the hundreds of employees who stand to lose their jobs in the privatization process. Contractors must offer the Army employees jobs in the same locations. CECOM is further encouraging the contractors to offer employees retraining or guaranteed employment for more than one year.

But the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents many of the affected employees, has vowed to fight the Army's outsourcing efforts.

"We are reviewing our legal options," said union spokeswoman Tiffany Coffey. "We plan to move ahead with great vigor to stop this non-compliance with Circular A-76."

Options include appealing to the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense.

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