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
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
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.