Davis foresees an end to A-76

A program encouraging the private sector to compete with federal employees for work that is considered commercial is essentially dead for now, according to Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), an advocate for the program.

Speaking at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show Government Conference this month, Davis said a Senate provision likely sunk the competitive-sourcing program, which is governed under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76.

The provision, in this year's Defense Authorization bill, would forbid companies to try to get a cost advantage over the government by offering their employees health insurance that requires a lower employer cost than what the Defense Department pays to insure its civilian employees. The provision would give companies that do provide lower-cost insurance less of an incentive to compete, he said.

The end of the program would put an end to some opportunities for contractors to take work that previously had been done by agency employees. Federal labor unions have generally opposed A-76 competitions for just that reason.

"It is strange to many of us who look at government issues why this would even be controversial," Davis said. "If the Defense Authorization Bill this year gets enacted, I think you'll see no more A-76 for the next year."

The Virginia Republican said many members of Congress do not fully understand federal contracting or procurement. He suggested companies should invite members of Congress to their corporate offices to show them what they do and explain how federal contracting works.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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