Tech community rallies against anti-privatization bill

Legislation introduced this spring by Rep. Albert Wynn, D-M.D., would, if passed, "likely bring the entire government to a halt," according to a recent report by a Virgina market research company.

In a newsletter sent this week to hundreds of clients, author Albert Nekimken of Chantilly-based INPUT sounded the alarm about H.R. 3766, the Truthfulness, Responsibility and Accountability (TRAC) Act. INPUT's clients include federal information technology vendors.

The bill, for which Wynn and allies in the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) have recruited 193 co-sponsors, would temporarily prohibit outsourcing of federal jobs unless a waiver was granted by the Office of Management and Budget. Once the temporary ban was lifted, all future contracting would first require a public-private award competition.

The bill also includes a mandatory cost-savings analysis of current contracts, along with tacit instruction to cancel any pacts that do not show a ten percent savings over the cost of performing the service in-house. The INPUT brief contends the reviews alone would be enough to grind government to a halt.

The INPUT alert warned that the labor involved in reviewing all federal outsourcing pacts would be enough to bring the entire government to a halt. Moreover, the anti-privatization bill would leave the federal government woefully short of the personnel it needs to operate, leaving the government susceptible to terrorist intrusions, among other threats, Nekimken said.

"Not only is the government stuck with islands of computing that can't communicate, but the pool of people who understand how to make them talk is steadily shrinking," says the bulletin. "Accordingly, the threat of a successful cyberattack rises in parallel."

Nekimken acknowledged that, despite widespread support for the bill, it stands virtually no chance of passing a GOP-controlled Congress. However, he said that a swing to the Democrats in the fall elections could be enough to pass next year's version of H.R. 3766. If that's the case, then federal information technology vendors should be concerned, he said.

"Both the ITAA (the Information Technology Association of America) and its members feel themselves on the edge of an abyss and believe strongly that the proposed legislation is deeply flawed and overly broad," Nekimken said.

AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage signaled his group's support for the proposal at a rally to announce its filing this spring.

"Vital public services should not be turned over to big corporations whose first priority is their bottom line, not the public interest," Harnage said. During the rally, he also stressed the need for agencies to track costs and purported savings resulting from contracting out. "This is about accountability."

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