Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will explore
outsourcing nearly five percent of its workforce over the next three years,
according to agency memos released today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). For the first time, enforcement-related positions will
be offered for bid to private companies.

As described in a “Decision Paper” signed by EPA Administrator
Stephen Johnson on September 22, 2005, the agency has struggled over the past
few years to meet its assigned goal of putting 850 full time equivalent positions
— 5 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.

According to Johnson, the positions that will be offered for contract replacement
are administrative in nature, including financial and information technology
slots. EPA employees contacting PEER express concern that the new outsourcing
targets affect—

  • Enforcement. The agency’s enforcement laboratory, called the National
    Enforcement Investigations Center, could lose as many as 78 specialists to
    corporate labs. The NEIC is the nation’s leading forensic lab for environmental
    measurement and pollution compliance testing;
  • Contractor Oversight. The agency’s 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, however, may result
    in one set of contractors overseeing the work of another set of contractors;
  • Workplace Diversity. Johnson’s decision memo admits that plans to
    contract out administrative positions “will heavily impact minority
    employees.” By way of mitigation, Johnson pledges to explore outplacement,
    training and “early outs and buyouts” for affected minority staff.
    Nonetheless, EPA will become less ethnically diverse even if these steps are

“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,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “In the
Bush administration, protecting the public is always a job for the lowest bidder.”

While the aggressive drive by the Bush administration to replace as much as
one-quarter of all federal civil servants with private firms has foundered,
agencies are still graded by the President’s Office of Management &
Budget on the percentage of their workforces that are made available for contractor


the Stephen Johnson Decision Paper on “Competitive Sourcing”

Look at the agency competitive sourcing report for 2004

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