Park Service Union Leader Urges White House Review of Illegal Outsourcing
Independence Hall Official Admits Agency Hired Contractors for Jobs Held by Federal Workers
WASHINGTON – The head of the union representing National Park Service employees is calling on the White House to review the illegal outsourcing of federal employee jobs at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. detailed the illegal outsourcing in a July 16 letter to Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
B.J. Dunn, acting superintendent at Independence National Historical Park, acknowledged the outsourcing in a June 27 letter to Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania. According to Dunn’s own account, the National Park Service hired contractors for custodial and grounds-keeping work last performed by federal employees.
“A portion of the needed funds for these contracts is coming from budget sources previously used to fund a small number (less than 5) of park positions that became vacant through retirements and attrition,” Dunn wrote.
Federal law forbids agencies from converting to contractor performance functions designated for performance by federal employees.
“By the agency’s own words, I believe NPS has converted custodial and grounds-keeping functions from federal employee to contractor performance in defiance of law and OMB’s implementing guidance,” Cox wrote.
The Park Service official defended the outsourcing by claiming that no federal employees had lost their jobs due to the hiring of contract workers, even though the prohibition against directly converting federal jobs to contractors does not include any such exception. The official also claimed that the agency has had to rely on contractors because of a cap on the size of the civilian workforce, even though OMB denies such personnel ceilings exist.
President Cox is asking OMB to cancel the custodial and grounds-keeping contracts that were illegally issued and to bring the work back in house. In addition, Cox wants OMB to review other service contracts NPS has issued during the past five years to determine if they were illegally issued.
AFGE also wants OMB to provide NPS and all other agencies with guidance explaining the statutory prohibitions on illegal privatization and to clarify that agencies should be managed based on budgets and workloads, not personnel ceilings.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.