In passing a spending bill for fiscal 2018 (HR-3354) covering most of the government last week, the House once again moved to prevent agencies from comparing in-house costs to private sector bids under the OMB Circular A-76 process.
The House position likely will settle for at least this budget cycle the issue of whether to continue or end the years-long ban on conducting such studies, which in the past resulted in the privatization of many thousands of federal jobs. In many prior years, the House initially had been neutral on the ban but ultimately agreed to Senate language to continue it.
The House earlier had voted to continue the ban as part of a separate bill tying together four of the regular appropriations bills–the most recent one consolidated the other eight–and as part of its version of the annual authorization bill for DoD, which has most of the jobs that at least in theory could be put up for bid.
The Trump administration had proposed reinstating the A-76 process as a way for agencies to comply with its directive to restructure for greater efficiency, without setting goals for conducting the comparison studies such as those the Bush administration had ordered.
Although passage of the two bills means the House has cleared all the regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year starting October 1, the budgetary path ahead is uncertain. The Senate has not moved any of its 12 bills to a floor vote and already a temporary extension of current spending authority is in place through December 8.