OMB Watch Partners with CREDO Action to Stop Reckless Outsourcing
by Gary Therkildsen*, 5/17/2010
Last month, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed new "inherently governmental" guidelines, which determine how federal agencies outsource services to private contractors, and asked for feedback from the public on the proposed measures. OMB Watch has collaborated with CREDO Action to spur public participation in the comment process through a petition drive. In addition to advocating for a broader definition of inherently governmental, the comment we suggest for submission targets the outsourcing of certain functions to private security contractors.
With corporations like Blackwater/Xe, ArmorGroup, and KBR constantly in the news because of some new scandal about either ripping off the American taxpayer or harming our country's interests overseas, OMB Watch and CREDO Action chose to focus on the outsourcing of critical security functions to these profit-driven contractors.
We urge the public to call on the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) to add a specific list of security activities to the current list of functions deemed "inherently governmental."
The security activities include, "guard services, convoy security services, pass and identification services, plant protection services, the operation of prison or detention facilities, and any security operations that might reasonably require the use of deadly force."
Additionally, we suggest that the public appeal to OFPP to prevent security contractors from performing "support of intelligence activities (including covert operations), interrogation, military and police training, and the repair and maintenance of weapon systems."
Our proposed comment observes, "Given the resistance of contractors to effective oversight, and the costs and controversies associated with the contracting out of these functions, the government must in-source these services to provide the proper oversight and accountability."
We based our comment language on legislation pending before both the House and Senate that aims to prevent contractors from performing these very tasks. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) recently introduced the companion bills, both titled the Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act.
Sanders and Schakowsky had worked together during the 109th Congress to introduce similar legislation, but, unfortunately, it never progressed very far.
Public comments on the proposed "inherently governmental" guidelines are due by June 1.
Image by Flickr user johnsolid used under a Creative Commons license.