Competitive Sourcing:

Challenges in Expanding A-76 Governmentwide

GAO-02-498T: Published: Mar 6, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 2002.

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Barry W. Holman
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The Department of Defense (DOD) has been at the forefront of federal agencies in using the OMB Circular A-76 process. In 1995, DOD made it a priority to reduce operating costs and free funds for other needs. DOD has also augmented the A-76 program with what it terms strategic sourcing--a broader array of reinvention and reengineering options that may not necessarily involve A-76 competitions. The number of positions--at one point 229,000--that DOD planned to study and the time frames for the studies have varied. Current plans are to study about 183,000 positions between fiscal years 1997 and 2007. Changes in the inventory of commercial activities and the current administration's sourcing initiatives could change the number of positions studied in the future. However, GAO has not evaluated the extent to which these changes might occur. DOD's A-76 program has faced several challenges that may provide valuable lessons learned for other federal agencies. These lessons include the following: (1) studies took longer than initially projected, (2) costs and resources required for the studies were underestimated, (3) selecting and grouping functions to compete can be difficult, and (4) determining and maintaining reliable estimates of savings were difficult. The Commercial Activities Panel is studying and has held public hearings about the policies and procedures, including the A-76 process, and the transfer of commercial activities from government personnel to contractors. The panel, comprised of federal and private sector experts, is required to report its findings and recommendations to Congress by May 2002.

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