Job competition measure could complicate debate on pay raise bill

Debate over a proposal to curb the Bush administration's effort to put federal jobs up for competition with private firms could complicate debate in the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday on the fiscal 2003 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill, which also includes funding for next year's federal pay raise.

The Office of Management and Budget has directed agencies to put 15 percent of their jobs up for possible outsourcing by the end of fiscal 2003.

Some House Democrats say the threshold is arbitrary, and that many agencies lack the expertise to determine whether private contractors could handle their functions better and more cheaply.

Rep. James Moran, D-Va., plans to offer an amendment prohibiting agencies from following through with the order, according to a spokesman.

"A federal employee workforce needs to be just that--a federal workforce," said the Moran spokesman.

In late June, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government voted to provide a 4.1 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees next year, bringing their raise into line with that of the military. President Bush had proposed a 2.6 percent pay raise for civilians.

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