Murray Blasts Bush Administration’s Back-Room Dealing to Fire Thousands of Federal Workers

Nov 25 2003

Senator accuses White House of relentless effort to undermine a bipartisan compromise that assured fairness for workers and real cost savings for taxpayers.

(Washington, D.C.) In Senate remarks this morning, Senator Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and General Government, blasted the Bush Administration for its secretive efforts to insert loopholes in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill allowing the Administration to push thousands of federal employees on to the unemployment line. The Administration’s efforts could result in federal jobs being contracted out even if it costs taxpayers more.

“The White House is actively working behind the scenes to reverse a bipartisan agreement,” Murray charged. “If the White House gets everything it wants, federal workers could actually lose their jobs and see that work shipped oversees.”

On November 12, a House-Senate conference committee on the Transportation/Treasury Appropriations bill reached a bipartisan agreement to impose a balanced set of rules that would apply to the Bush Administrations so-called “competitive sourcing initiative.”

These bipartisan compromise rules:

  • applied to all federal agencies,
  • ensured that jobs would be contracted out only when the there were taxpayer savings, and
  • ensured that federal employees would have the same appeal rights that private contractors currently have if they believe a decision to contract out work was made in error.

Furthermore, important elements of the rules were identical to language President Bush signed into law weeks earlier for the Defense Department as part of the Defense Appropriations Act.

But since then, the White House has worked behind closed doors through the Republican leadership to gut the compromise. The Administration’s new proposal would:

  • Establish that rules included in the Transportation/Treasury bill no longer apply to all federal agencies,
  • Deny federal employees the legal standing to appeal a wrongful decision to contract out work, and
  • Eliminate any requirement that contractors do the work at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Murray emphasized that the Bush Administration – and not her Congressional colleagues – were driving these unfair rule changes.

“I want to emphasize that it is not the fault of Chairmen Istook, Shelby, Stevens, Young or any other members of the Transportation/Treasury Conference,” said Murray. “This attack on federal workers, on fairness, and on taxpayers has only one source – the Bush Administration.

In her statement, Sen. Murray cited the case of federal employees of the Defense Finance Accounting Service in Ohio, whose work was contracted out to a Dallas, Texas company in January 2002. The Pentagon’s Inspector General has found that the move saved no money and actually cost taxpayers an additional $20 million. Now, the work is being shipped to yet another contractor.

“I have been increasingly appalled by the disrespect and disdain that the Bush Administration holds for the thousands of Americans that come to work for our government every day,” Murray continued.

The complete text of Senator Murray’s remarks | original bipartisan compromise reached during the Transportation/Treasury conference.