OMB issues guidance for A-76 reports

By Nov. 12, agencies must send annual reports on their competitive sourcing efforts to the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB will review the reports before preparing a consolidated document for Congress as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004. Under OMB Circular A-76, federal employees compete against the private sector for government work that is considered commercial in nature.

Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management, last week issued a memo to agency executives describing the process for preparing the reports.

OMB added four new data requirements to those established in 2003, the memo said. These include:

* Savings achieved and/or quantifiable performance improvements on competitions completed in fiscal 2003

* Fixed costs for fiscal 2004

* Number of offers and tenders received in public-private competitions

* Acquisition strategy used.

Johnson said the new reporting elements will "improve the usefulness of the data and the transparency of the competitive sourcing initiative overall."

In addition to the four new data requirements, OMB also wants agencies to describe the steps it took to identify human resources and skill gaps, and how it reduced organizational redundancies.

Johnson said OMB will include in its narrative details about successful competitions and practices used to achieve them, as well as corrective steps agencies have taken to address competition shortcomings.

These reports may get easier next year. OMB plans to launch a competitive sourcing database over the next five months, which would compile the information more simply.

Agencies send information to OMB on a Microsoft Corp. Access spreadsheet. The information includes how many commercial activities vs. inherently governmental activities each agency has and the number of total positions by bureau. OMB stores the information on a DB2 database from IBM Corp., an OMB official said.

In its 2003 report, OMB found that agencies completed 650 competitions that reduced federal operating costs by $1 billion and increased efficiency by roughly 15 percent.

The administration also found that taxpayers saved $12,000 annually per position studied, and federal employees offered the best service 89 percent of the time.

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