Senate bill would suspend competitive sourcing

Federal agencies would be required to review their service contracts and to bring some types of previously contracted work in-house under new legislation authored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Mikulski (D-Md.) introduced on April 29 the Clean-Up Act, also known as the Correction of Longstanding Errors in Agencies Unsustainable Procurements Act, or S. 924. The bill would indefinitely suspend the Bush administration’s competitive-sourcing competitions under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 and would make permanent changes to those rules.

The legislation builds on several provisions restricting competitive sourcing that were inserted into the recent fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which put a hold on the A-76 privatization process.

Under the competitive-sourcing rules, agencies hold competitions to consider bids to contract work previously performed by federal employees. Under Mikulski’s bill, those public-private competitions would be delayed indefinitely until the OMB and inspectors general put new policies in place and ensure there is a level playing field for federal employees.

“Federal employees deserve to be treated fairly,” Mikulski said in a statement. “This bill will be a major step toward cleaning up the contracting abuses of the last eight years and bringing jobs that were wrongly awarded to private contractors back to where they belong: with our first-rate federal employees.”

The legislation would require agencies to return in-house all inherently governmental work that had been wrongly contracted out. It also includes those instructions for work that is closely related to inherently governmental work and to mission essential work.

Agencies must determine where they are experiencing workforce shortages and develop strategies to reduce those shortages. They also must keep inventories of service contracts.