Washington, DC – Bush Administration plans to replace up to 425,000 federal employees with private contractors could weaken administration of an array of environmental laws, according to comments filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Approximately one month ago, the President’s Office of Management & Budget (OMB) proposed a substantial rewrite of procedures for contracting out federal jobs to make it easier for agencies to replace civil servants. The PEER comments note that the OMB proposals –
Allow replacement of federal scientists by private consultants who would have clear financial incentives to give agency managers predetermined results;
Provide no bar to companies with records of safety, labor, environmental and fraud violations from securing federal work;
Eliminate whistleblower protection for the workers performing the “outsourced” function.
“We already are seeing cases where agencies are contracting out environmental assessments in order to whitewash problems,” commented PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer, whose organization is currently litigating against outsourcing of natural resource positions on military bases.”Placing science up for sale promises a host of negative environmental consequences as willing participants provide policy support in exchange for a paycheck.”
Under the proposed rules all “line” scientists in regulatory agencies such as EPA, wildlife protection entities, such as National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and land management agencies, such as the Bureau of Land management and the US Forest Service, may be subject to replacement by private contractors. The new OMB rules will become effective as soon as they are adopted, which could be as soon as the end of this year.