The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

EPA Looks to Accelerate Outsourcing

by Brendan Coyne

Oct. 4, 2005 – The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to dramatically increase the number of jobs it outsources to private companies.

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In total, the EPA is seeking to re-designate 850 positions – about 5 percent of all EPA jobs – for "competitive sourcing," according to plans obtained and made public by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Agency is seeking to save an unspecified sum of money through opening the positions to bidding by contractors and other agencies.

The decision came over the protests of public employee unions, EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson acknowledged in the document, "Long Term Competitive Sourcing Plan," summing-up the decision of an EPA council tasked with investigating agency cost-cutting through outsourcing.

Though laws vary by state, contract workers are generally paid at lower rates than employees and most jurisdictions allow employers using contract workers to bear less liability and financial responsibility than they would otherwise have to.

In a statement yesterday, PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch challenged the notion that dumping full-time workers is about efficacy of function.

"This outsourcing plan is not about making EPA more effective or protective of public health, it is about politics: giving more government work to contractors who will presumably be grateful to the president and his party for the lucrative opportunities," Ruch said. "In the Bush administration, protecting the public is always a job for the lowest bidder."

Most of the designation changes are in administrative positions, with 450 of those slots slated to be opened to contractors beginning in the 2008 fiscal year, according to the agency’s plans. The EPA intends to open the jobs of 325 information technology workers to competition this year and the next, and will do the same to 25 finance workers in 2007.

According to a report by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, over 300,000 federal employees have been fired since 1993, with the rate accelerating under the Bush administration.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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