House Appropriations Committee Approves Bill With 3.9 Percent Pay Raise, Contracting Restrictions


6/26/08: The House Appropriations Committee yesterday provided strong support for an NTEU-backed 3.9 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees next year in its markup of the fiscal 2009 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. This would match the 2009 raise for members of the military moving through Congress and continue the long tradition of military-civilian pay parity.

NTEU National President Colleen Kelley applauded the committee decision, calling it “a wise investment in providing high-quality government services to taxpayers.” The White House earlier this year proposed lower raises for both groups of federal workers in 2009 — a 3.4 percent raise for the military, and only a 2.9 percent increase for the federal civilian workforce.

President Kelley also welcomed action by the Appropriations Committee to include language providing for a one-year moratorium on new public-private competitions for federal work. These competitions are conducted under Office of Management and Budget rules, contained in a document known as Circular A-76, that favor unaccountable private contractors, often to the detriment of taxpayers.

“Under this administration,” President Kelley said, “the army of federal contractors has grown considerably, as agencies find themselves under pressure to put a variety of jobs — many of which previously have been considered inherently governmental — up for bid to the private sector.”

A week ago, when the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee included the moratorium on A-76 competitions in its markup, it chairman, Rep. Jose Serrano (D.-N.Y.), said the move would halt this administration’s detrimental program.

“We have seen a number of abuses in contracting out decisions, including competitions rerun because the employees ‘won.’ The second time, to no one’s surprise, the contractor wins,” said President Kelley. “This bill will put an end to runaway federal contracting.”

In terms of inherently governmental work, a third provision in the committee markup reflects another significant NTEU priority — an effort to end the costly use of private debt collectors by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

President Kelley has been leading the fight not only to rein in runaway federal contracting, but specifically to end the IRS private collection program, which resulted in a loss of some $50 million in its first year of operation even as it generated a large number of taxpayer complaints taxpayers of inappropriate behavior by the private companies.

“Given all the evidence to date,” she said, “there is simply no justification for continuing this ill-advised and costly program.” NTEU’s view is echoed with growing bipartisan concern in Congress about both the wisdom and cost-effectiveness of using private tax collectors.