Federal Manager's Daily Report

Washington DC - June 2019: Federal employee unions join to protest a proposal to merge OPM and GSA, which would include a non-confirmed political appointee being in charge of civil service policies affecting the entire federal workforce. (AFGE photo)

The general government appropriations bill approved this week in a House subcommittee would continue several long-running provisions of that measure affecting federal workplace policies, as well as more recent language regarding the administration’s proposed merger of OPM and GSA.

The measure for example continues a decade-long moratorium on conducting studies under OMB A-76 comparing the costs of commercial-type federal operations with bids by contractors. That program previously had resulted in the contracting-out of tens of thousands of federal jobs but was stopped by concerns about escalating costs by contractors after they received the work, loss of control by federal agencies, and the conversion of some work that is inherently governmental in nature.

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The measure further bars spending money for any further steps to have GSA take over OPM’s operating functions and have the remainder of OPM become a sub-office of OMB. That ban first was imposed last year pending the results of a detailed outside study—which is underway but is not likely to be finished in the near future.

Since then, further controversies have arisen over the information administration officials provided to Congress before that ban was enacted.

The measure also contains language considered by Congress last year but ultimately dropped to bar the administration from imposing contract provisions that were not reached in negotiations with unions or imposed by an outside arbitrator. That is a reaction to agencies’ use of broadened authorities under the administration’s 2018 executive orders strengthening management’s hand in labor relations.

Also continued were several long-running policies, including ones generally requiring that FEHB plans cover prescription contraceptives but generally barring them from covering abortions.

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