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Coast Guard Plan to Outsource Work Performed by Federal Employees Violates Law, Union Leader Says

Companies mentioned in this article: The American Federation of Government Employees

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coast Guard's plan to hire contract workers for functions currently performed by federal employees violates a federal outsourcing ban and must be stopped, the head of the American Federation of Government Employees wrote in a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The work in question is at the Coast Guard's National Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, West Virginia. The recreational portion of the center is funded solely by use fees collected from recreational vessel owners. The center cannot spend more than is collected or it will be in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act.

In a June 26 letter to AFGE Council 120 President Demetrios Stroubakis, center director Timothy Skuby said he intends to hire contract employees to perform work related to collecting a new annual user fee that is being implemented to address a drop in user fee collections.

However, the collection of user fees is a task that has historically been performed by federal employees. Converting this work to contract employees is a violation of a longstanding ban on outsourcing work performed by federal employees, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a July 17 letter to OMB Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert.

"An annual renewal user fee is just another user fee, not new work," Cox wrote.

Even more troubling, Skuby attempts to justify the hiring of contractors rather than federal employees by claiming that in doing so, the agency would not be in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act.

"Why would the NVDC be able to spend money to pay contractors but not federal employees, whether permanent or temporary, to perform the same function?" Cox asked in the letter.

Skuby also disclosed that the center had been considering contracting out the mailroom functions, which AFGE's Coast Guard Council was unaware of prior to Skuby's disclosure.

Cox urged OMB to provide guidance to the center on existing laws and policies preventing federal agencies from contracting out federal work and establishing arbitrary caps on the size of the civilian workforce. Such instructions should be extended to all agencies, Cox said, considering that a similar issue recently was discovered at the National Park Service.

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.

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SOURCE The American Federation of Government Employees