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President George W. Bush meets with Dan Bartlett, center, and Josh Bolten in the Oval Office Jan. 9, 2003.  White House photo by Eric Draper.
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Angela Styles Responds to Concerns Expressed by Federal Employees About the Competitive Sourcing Initiative

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Question: We've heard from some Federal employees that have some concerns about the new process for conduction public/private competition. So, here to discuss those questions is Angela Styles, Administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Angela why have we increased focus on competitive sourcing?

Angela Styles: We're trying to improve service to the tax payers, to lower costs, and to find a better value in our department's agencies. About half of the Federal employees we have right now are performing activities that are commercial in nature. Whether that's hanging dry-wall, or serving food, or doing engineering services or being attorneys, we're trying to figure out how we can provide a better value to our taxpayers and how we can manage the Government better through competitive sourcing.

Q: If competitive sourcing is such a good idea then how come the Federal Government hasn't done more of it in the past?

AS: It's been a cumbersome, lengthy process in the past. It's been difficult for people to understand. We've taken a lot of time, improving the process, making it short, making it easy to understand and streamlined and fair to everyone that's involved whether you're a Federal employee, whether you're a private sector company bidding on this, whether you're a manager in a Federal agency that's trying to determine how to provide the best value to the taxpayers.

Q: I want to tell you one of the Federal employees asked the following question: "I'm all for better Government giving the taxpayers more for their money but their doesn't seem to be any guarantee that giving inside work to an outside company is going to ensure the taxpayer is better off. It's one thing for a company to contract to do good work for less but it's another thing to manage them to ensure it really happens. What are we doing to make sure we get what is promised?"

AS: Federal Employee Unions representing our Federal employees have phrased similar, and I think valid, concerns. We need to do a better job managing our Federal contractors. We need to make sure that they're held accountable and I think our new process for public/private competition does a good job of that. We also need to make sure in implementation that we're training people, we're putting them in the right place and we know how to manage these federal contractors.

Q: Federal Employee Unions have concerns that this initiative is about getting rid of them. Does the President want to get rid of federal employees and isn't this process one that makes it easier and quicker to get rid of them?

AS: Absolutely not. This is not an outsourcing initiative. This is not about getting rid of Federal employees. Federal employees are the backbone of our Federal Government. They are the people that make sure we get our job done everyday in our departments and agencies and that we deliver service to our citizens. The initiative is really about bringing better value to the Federal Government, better value for out taxpayer, and doing a better job of managing out Federal Government.

Q: What do you tell the Federal employee who's got 15 to 20 years of experience, who suddenly realizes he has to compete to keep his place?

AS: We want our Federal Managers to do a better job managing our Federal Government. This is the opportunity for them to come to you and ask how do you do your job better. You're the one that has been performing it for a long time. Rarely if ever in the past have we had our Federal managers come to the people that are performing the job and ask them how they can do it better, faster and cheaper for the taxpayers.

Q: Let's talk about managers who have to confront employees who are afraid they're going to lose their job and are coming to them for guidance. What would you suggest they tell them?

AS: Whether the public sector wins or the private sector wins, our Federal employees land on their feet for public/private competition, as do the taxpayers. For a good manager, you can make this a rewarding and positive experience. A majority of the time our Federal employees actually win these competitions. They beat the private sector, an incredible morale boost for the organization. And it's a morale boost because we're doing a better job of serving our citizens for a lower cost.

Q: In many cases the inside employees are competing against large companies with seemingly insurmountable advantages. What do you tell a group of employees who believe they're going to lose the competition no matter what just because the odds are stacked against them?

AS: They can and often do win these competitions. We're also committed to providing the resources and the training so that they can provide a competitive bid and we can determine who really is the best sector to provide these services to our citizens.

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