portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

environment | government

EPA employment opportunities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to outsource nearly five percent of its workforce...
 http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2005/2005-10-05-09.asp#anchor2

AmeriScan: October 5, 2005
EPA to Contract Out Hundreds of Staff Positions

WASHINGTON, DC, October 5, 2005 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided

to outsource nearly five percent of its workforce according to agency memos released by Public

Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national organization of government employees

in natural resources agencies.
Employees in the areas of information technology, financial services, and administrative support will

be outsourced under the newly approced EPA plan. For the first time, enforcement positions will be

offered for bid to private companies.

The agency's enforcement laboratory, called the National Enforcement Investigations Center, could

lose as many as 78 specialists to corporate labs, according to EPA employees contacting PEER. This

center is the nation's leading forensic lab for environmental measurement and pollution compliance

testing.

As described in a Decision Paper signed by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on September 22, the

agency has struggled over the past few years to meet its assigned goal of putting 850 full time

equivalent positions - five percent of its total - out to bid for possible replacement by private

providers by 2008.

This latest plan increases four-fold the number of employees potentially outsourced from the agency's

last published plan in 2004.

The Decision Paper describes a Competitive Sourcing Council under the chairmanship of the Assistant

Administrator for Administration and Resources Management Luis Luna.

Luna is responsible for the agency's hiring and personnel policies affecting 18,000 federal employees

nationwide, facilities management, a $1.2 billion procurement program, and the administration of

EPA's grants totaling $4 billion annually.

The Council selected functions for competitive sourcing thought to be "the most commercial in

nature," and directed all offices and regions to participate in the outsourcing exercise.

EPA employees contacting PEER expressed concern that the new outsourcing targets will affect

enforcement and contractor oversight.

In the financial area, the EPA plans to outsource 25 full time positions. These financial analysts now

review reports and invoices from the billions of dollars in research grants, toxic cleanup projects and

other contracts administered by EPA.

Both the Government Accountability Office and the agency's own Inspector General have issued

numerous critical reports about the agency's insufficient oversight of its current contracts.

EPA's outsourcing plan may result in one set of contractors overseeing the work of another set of

contractors.

The Decision Paper states that 325 full time positions in information technology and 450

administrative support positions will be contracted out. The paper acknowledges that this shift will

"heavily impact minority employees and employees who might lack the skills to be mobile and be placed

in other positions around the agency."

Following the June Council meeting, EPA's unions were provided the opportunity to review and

comment on the "short list" of functions. A considerable number of written comments were submitted.

On July 6, the heads of EPA's five unions, along with representatives from the national organizations

of NTEU and AFGE, met with Luna, the Decision Paper states.

Union concerns covered three categories: philosophical disagreement with the competitive sourcing

initiative, disagreement with the agency's interpretation of inherently governmental, and concerns

about how the initiative would hurt the fabric of EPA's workforce and adversely impact its ability to

remain flexible and maintain public trust.

There were many references to the criticism the agency received in the late 1980s and early 1990s

about being too dependent on contractors and having contracted out inherently governmental work.

But the Decision Paper states, "While the union discussions were healthy and served to emphasize the

importance of managing the competitions carefully to protect the rights and well being of EPA

employees, they did not provide a reason for altering the recommendations of the Council."

The Council's outsourcing recommendations were adopted on September 22.

"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," said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "In

the Bush administration, protecting the public is always a job for the lowest bidder."

Agencies are graded by the President's Office of Management and Budget on the percentage of their

workforces that are made available for contractor competition.

Read the Decision Paper on Competitive Sourcing at:

 link to www.peer.org

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All Rights Reserved.