IRS drops public-private contest for computer services

The Internal Revenue Service last week announced that it will not proceed with a planned public-private competition for computer service jobs.

According to an information bulletin, the IRS will work with the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget to find an alternative to the contest, which was going to be conducted under the rules in Circular A-76 and could have encompassed more than 2,000 federal jobs.

Alternatives could include business process reengineering, a broad term for implementing industry best practices to make the existing workforce more efficient. A study outlining the agency's next steps for addressing computer services needs is expected to be completed by the end of December.

An IRS spokesman said the agency has not ruled out outsourcing portions of the work; rather, outsourcing will not be the solution for the entire program.

"The IRS remains committed to the original goal of the project -- improving performance -- but is changing its approach to reduce risk and obtain business results more quickly," agency officials said in a statement.

The seat management work that was going to be placed up for competition consists of providing services for desktop and laptop computers, peripherals and networks; managing the agency's information technology help desk; procuring hardware and software; and securing IT equipment. The Reston, Va., market research firm INPUT had estimated that the maximum value of a contract would be $1 billion over its lifetime.

In late September, the IRS announced that the first draft of a request for proposals for the seat management work would be delayed from its anticipated release on Oct. 18. But the IRS maintained earlier this month that a competitive sourcing study was moving forward.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said she is glad the IRS canceled the competition, but remains concerned about the course agency officials plan to take.

"Unfortunately, the agency wasted countless dollars and employee hours to come to the conclusion that the competition should be canceled," Kelley said. "NTEU has always believed that the best way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any agency operation is to draw on the knowledge and experience of frontline employees."

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