WASHINGTON- Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, wants to stop any new outside contracting by federal agencies until contractors can prove they are doing the job cheaper and more efficiently than federal employees.
Wynn, who said his 4th District has the highest concentration of federal workers in the nation, has nearly 60 co-sponsors on the bill that he introduced Tuesday. He said the bill is needed because many contractors have been profiting at the expense of federal workers, by hiring cheap labor and doing botched jobs.
Contracting federal work out to the private sector was supposed to save money, Wynn said, but there is no evidence that privatization has accomplished that goal.
“There’s lots of evidence of waste and abuse,” said Wynn. “You have situations [where jobs] could have been done cheaper with federal employees.”
Calls to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Office of Personnel Management for comment on the bill were not returned Tuesday.
But Wynn said no one has said anything to him against the bill. “It’s very hard to say, ‘OK, we’re going to keep wasting money,'” he said.
Scores of advocates and federal workers rallied on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday in support of the bill, saying contractors should be held accountable for their work, good and bad.
“People are hired out and we don’t know how many there are, what they’re being paid, or how much work they’re doing,” said David Schlein, national vice president in the Washington area for the American Federation of Government Employees. All of that information is closely tracked for federal workers, he said.
Schlein, who represents federal workers from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, said the AFL-CIO is demanding the moratorium on hiring new contractors until a fairer process is established.
He and Wynn want a system where federal workers would be able to bid on jobs in competition with private contractors. In the long run, private contractors “are not working at a savings,” Schlein said. Federal workers should have a chance to do the same work, which often they are already trained to do, he said.
Jim Beckstrom, who works at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, said agency administrators often create a situation that is favorable to privatization by cutting back on the number of federal workers.
“Then we’re forced to contract work out … people who really know the work are career employees,” said Beckstrom, adding that hiring contractors has not worked out in the systems computer department where he is employed.
“The general image of government workers is lazy and incompetent,” Beckstrom said. “But there are plenty of great federal workers.”