House panel orders reports on costs of job competitions

Agencies would have to tell Congress how much they are paying outside consultants to help run public-private job competitions under legislation approved by the House Appropriations Committee Thursday.

The committee adopted an amendment from Rep. James Moran, D-Va., to the Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies appropriations bill that would require agencies to file yearly reports on the size and cost of their competitive sourcing programs.

"I just want to make sure that the Congress, and particularly appropriators, have a handle on the extent to which we are outsourcing and [know] what the cost is," said Moran.

Agencies would have to include in the reports the amount spent on consultant support, as well as the costs of using agency personnel to conduct job competitions. They would also have to detail how many employees had been subjected to competition, and include estimates for any savings generated by competitions.

Most agencies do not track the cost of using their own personnel to help stage competitive sourcing studies.

A federal employee union applauded the committee's action. "Thanks to Rep. Moran, the House Appropriations Committee has taken an impressive first step towards holding [the Office of Management and Budget] accountable for the costs to taxpayers of its privatization quota," said John Threlkeld, a lobbyist with the American Federation of Government Employees.

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