While some of the President's Management Agenda initiatives, such as e-government, move forward impressively, others are struggling. The President's Competitive Sourcing initiative is awash in a sea of fear, mythology and parochial political assaults that ignore the reality of the process and the proven benefits of competition. And strategic human capital planning -- which involves some real civil service reform and is inextricably linked to the rest of the agenda -- is stuck in first gear.
The Navy is seriously considering a new policy that would limit sharply its ability to use General Services Administration schedules for support services. The policy would explicitly prohibit using non-Navy contracting vehicles unless the head of the contracting agency approves it. A similar policy is reportedly being discussed among Air Force officials.
Using sound-bite rhetoric and deliberate misinformation, opponents of competitive sourcing are simultaneously assaulting the Office of Management and Budget's May 29 revisions to Circular A-76 and engaging in guerrilla campaign tactics to ban competition, agency by agency, through legislation.
For the first time, the House Armed Services Committee has given a single subcommittee jurisdiction over Defense Department information technology policies and spending. This subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., deserves credit for its focus on the department's IT strategies and management.
The House Government Reform Committee has taken another important step in improving the government's acquisition system and practices: It approved May 7 the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003, sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va.
In a recent letter to Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget, a group of senators sharply criticized the administration's proposal to allow best-value contracting on a small portion of public-private competitions. Instead, the senators argued, public-private competitions should be based on "a combination of cost and quality."
As the administration rolls out its final revisions to the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76, the warfare over competitive sourcing is certain to intensify.