Halt the Outsourcing, For Now

That’s the sentiment in March 26 letters sent to heads of DOD and OMB by two key lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee, chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and readiness panel chairman Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.). The two veteran Congressmen point out that the A-76 process, originally designed to find the “most competitive and efficient source” for handling commercial services, has become “almost a mandate” to push “more and more work into the private sector, even work that is closely associated with inherently governmental functions” to meet “arbitrary competition goals.” They point to a March 4 memo by President Obama in which he states the lines between activities should not be outsourced and those that may “has been blurred and inadequately defined. … Agencies must operate under clear rules prescribing when outsourcing is and is not appropriate.” The A-76 process has generated problems throughout DOD, raising union hackles in many cases and prompting the DOD Inspector General to note that Air Force officials have felt pressure to conduct A-76 studies to meet tighter budgets. Skelton and Ortiz ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to “immediately halt any pending A-76 studies as well as the initiation or announcement of any A-76 study” to provide the Administration and Congress time to review DOD’s program and determine “the best course forward.” They ask OMB Director Peter Orszag to “undertake a comprehensive review” of DOD’s A-76 program. (Letter to Gates; letter to Orszag)