Lieberman Seeks Explanation for “Clear Evidence” of Use of Arbitrary Quotas in Competing Federal Jobs

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday asked Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten to explain “clear evidence” that the Administration has violated a Congressional prohibition on the use of arbitrary numerical quotas in its drive to privatize work performed by federal employees. In a letter dated July 24, 2004, Lieberman documents a series of statements and internal memoranda that add up to “clear evidence that the OMB and federal agencies have been violating the law in pursuit of the Administration’s pre-established numerical quotas for outsourcing.”

“When managed properly, equitable competition for new and existing federal government work is one of several tools that can help agencies reduce costs and become more responsive to customers and taxpayers,” Lieberman wrote. “The Administration’s arbitrary quantitative targets, however, chill other more creative means of achieving costs savings, overtax agencies already struggling to monitor work performed by contractors, and undermine the civil service through procedures biased against federal employees.” The Bush Administration has set a goal of opening to private sector competition 50% of the 850,000 job jobs listed on agencies’ FAIR Act inventories. And it has repeatedly made clear that all federal agencies were expected to open to private sector competition 15% of the listed jobs by the end of FY ‘03. Yet, in appropriations legislation enacted this past February, Congress expressed its opposition to the Administration’s use of arbitrary numerical quotas for outsourcing federal jobs, and precluded agencies from using appropriated funds to “establish, apply, or enforce” a numerical quota unless the quota was “based on considered research and sound analysis” of the agency’s past activities and was consistent with the agency’s mission. OMB was directed to report to Congress within thirty days of the development of any such quota. Congress has yet to receive that report. “The Administration’s outsourcing policies have never been based on considered research and sound analysis, and they have never been based on the circumstances of individual agencies,” Lieberman wrote. “Rather, they have been driven by an untested ideological assumption that contractors should be doing much more of the work that is currently performed by federal employees.” Lieberman outlined numerous instances in which OMB and agency officials referred to the pre-existing Administration outsourcing quota of 15% of listed jobs and requested that Bolten update him on the status of the Administration’s compliance with the law and “what will be done to reverse job competitions illegally based” on these quotas.