Hundreds of thousands of Army employees could face outsourcing

In what would be the biggest privatization project ever attempted by a federal agency, the Army is planning to let private companies compete for the jobs of more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians.

In what would be the biggest privatization project ever attempted by a federal agency, the Army is planning to let private companies compete for the jobs of 213,637 of its personnel-including 154,910 civilians.

The initiative would dwarf previous rounds of outsourcing in the Army and would involve employees who up to now have been off-limits to privatization. It would sweep up accountants, attorneys, computer technicians and all Army employees performing work designated as "noncore."

More than 58,000 military personnel would also face job competitions under the initiative, but any soldiers who lose in the competitions would be transferred to meet other requirements within the Army. The Army has no plans to cut its fighting force, and the initiative could allow the Army to use more soldiers as warfighters, according to Pentagon sources. "We want to get military personnel into military functions," said one official. Officially, the Army would not comment on the initiative, which it termed "pre-decisional."

The initiative, outlined in a draft memorandum from Army Secretary Thomas White and other Army documents obtained by GovExec.com, reflects a strong belief in public-private competition as a method for transforming the Army. It envisions an Army where employees perform their core mission of warfighting and support functions are left to the private sector. "The Army must focus its energies and talents on functions we perform better than anyone else as core competencies, and seek to obtain other needed products or services from the private sector where it makes sense," White stated in his memo.

Additionally, the initiative would help the service meet targets for public-private competition set by the White House.

In size and scope, the Army project would be unprecedented. Since 1996, the entire Defense Department has competed about 220,000 jobs. The White House has set a governmentwide job competition target of 127,500 jobs by October 2003. The Army plan, by contrast, would subject well over 200,000 employees to public-private competition over a timeframe that has not been determined.

"That is a huge program," said Dale Warden, chief operating officer with Warden Associates, a Springfield, Va.-based company that helps agencies conduct job competition studies.

The initiative, which Army documents refer to as "The Third Wave" to distinguish it from two previous outsourcing efforts, is the outcome of a months-long effort to identify "core" and "noncore" jobs within the service. The other military services are conducting similar reviews in conjunction with the Business Initiatives Council, a Defense reform council established by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. White's letter directs Army commands to submit plans for competing all "noncore functions" within the Army by Dec. 20.

"Your plan will include 100 percent of spaces eligible for private sector performance (i.e. noncore) unless an exemption is approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs," White's memo states. The initiative will encompass more employees than previous rounds of outsourcing within the Army, which focused solely on base operations, according to the memo.

To meet the 100 percent target, Army commands could use the public-private competition process governed by Circular A-76, outright privatization, and a variety of "alternatives to A-76," according to the letter. Most of the alternatives, which include setting up "transitional benefit corporations"-in which outsourced employees would temporarily keep federal benefits-and establishing partnerships between cities and military bases, would require authorization from Congress, according to Army documents.

Federal employee unions immediately condemned the Army plan and vowed to lobby members of Congress to stop it. "Rather than save money, this Army privatization scheme is all about moving money-to politically well-connected contractors," said Bobby Harnage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "AFGE will work with Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike to defeat the Army's efforts to secure the necessary congressional authorization for this wholesale privatization."

Harnage also challenged Angela Styles, administrator of federal procurement policy and the lead Bush official on competitive sourcing, to repudiate the Army plan. But Styles refused. "It's quite an exaggeration to say it's a privatization effort," she said. "I compliment the Army and Defense Department for taking a very hard look at how they manage and what's core and noncore."

Styles had no reservations about the size of the Army plan. "It certainly is up to the departments and agencies to determine how they want to do it," she said.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an association of federal contractors, also praised the initiative. "White seems to be saying they're going to get serious about this and do it in a very strategic way," he said.

But the Army could be overwhelmed by the work entailed in holding so many public-private job competitions, said Warden, whose company is helping 12 federal departments hold A-76 competitions right now. "I'm concerned about their ability to actually do all these studies," he said. "The Army has never built up the organic capacity to pull this stuff off, and quite honestly the commercial industry is saturated with all the [A-76] work at civilian agencies."

"Noncore" Army employees
Function Military Civilian
Acquisition, Logistics and Technology 18,412 36,649
Civil Works 195 24,251
Financial Management and Comptroller 1,880 3,647
Installations and Environment 1,386 27,407
Manpower and Reserve Affairs 32,680 50,717
General Counsel 373 639
Chief Information Officer 3,060 9,807
TAG 297 1,072
CPA 444 721
Source: Army documents
X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.