Service contracts go under House microscope

Appropriations Committee wants to know what was outsourced, to whom and how well the work was done

The House Appropriations Committee wants all agencies to take an inventory of their services contracts and consider letting federal employees perform that work.

The fiscal 2010 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act would require civilian agencies to create an annual inventory of services they’ve outsourced to the private sector and review whether to return the work to government employees.

In the inventories, the committee wants to know what services were outsourced, when a contract began, whether a contract was awarded competitively, and if the contractor’s work was done poorly. The committee is also interested in how closely contractors are coming to performing inherently governmental functions, or work that only a government employee can do.

The committee approved the bill July 7, but the full House has not debated it. The panel said it expects a lot of savings from those reviews, and the Army has saved $50 million from going through that process.

The new provision copies what the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act wanted from the Defense Department. However, the department has yet to submit its inventory to Congress even two years later.

The House Armed Services Committee acknowledged that such a task takes time, but it’s concerned because DOD hasn’t submitted any information or even a plan of how it will take on the job. The fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act directs DOD to tell the committee how it plans to get started on the work, according to the committee’s report on the legislation. The House passed the bill in June.

The Army has an inventory of its services contracts, but it began the counting in 2002. The Navy and Air Force departments are expected to turn in a sample inventory this fiscal year. However, the committee is concerned that those samples won’t be as detailed as lawmakers had wanted.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Fri, Jul 10, 2009

It would be great to see government employees consistently perform at a level of high productivty. However, they are frequently not accountable and work does not get accomplished. Frequently, you see contractors come close to crossing the line of taking on inherently government roles because the government staff is unskilled, understaffed or it takes the government staff forever to make a decision. I think the government and union need to analyze productivity of their own staff and also the incredibly arduous process a person has to go through to even apply for a government job, much less get one.

Fri, Jul 10, 2009 m Reston, VA

Comrades! The great day of victory is near. The capitalists will be pushed down! This is just. Because as we all know, the private sector simply doesn't work. Only the government can provide. Let the new Soviet era begin!

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