Direct conversion of jobs won't be part of final A-76 policy

New procedures for public-private competition of government jobs likely will omit a provision for direct conversion of public-sector work to the private sector, Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said today.

Styles, in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on acquisition policy, said her office is still resolving myriad issues presented in about 700 comments to the new draft of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, which lays out procedures for public-private competition of government work.

The new circular will likely eliminate the provision for direct conversion "as it exists right now," Styles said.

"I do not anticipate a reference to direct conversions in the circular itself," Styles said. "We are even in the process of discussing ... eliminating direct conversions altogether. Our concern, and I emphasize this is not a final decision, is that those [direct conversion] decisions have been made without regard to cost, or without regard to best value or the effectiveness of the contractor."

The draft circular, published Nov. 14, included a provision that would have allowed direct conversion of work done by 50 or fewer federal employees. The draft differed from the recommendation of the Commercial Activities Panel, which spent a year studying ways to improve the A-76 process. The panel, on which Styles served, recommended allowing direct conversion of work done by 10 or fewer employees.

In place of direct conversion, Styles said the new circular would likely include a streamlined process that would allow some public-private competition on tasks done by either 65 or fewer or 50 or fewer federal employees. This process would not be as extensive as the public-private competitions for larger federal functions, Styles said.

Styles also said that barriers to bringing work back into the government will be eliminated in the new circular.

"I have made changes to eliminate all barriers to bringing work back in house and to holding a competition to bring work back in house. Those will remain in the final circular," Styles told committee members.

However, she added that the administration's focus with regard to public-private competitions has been on competing commercial work currently being done by federal employees.

"I think we made that decision because we have 850,000 jobs that have never been subject to the pressures of competition. At least when work goes out to a contractor it is subject to competition every three to five years," she said.

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