PSC voices concerns over Hill Defense bills

Tuesday - 6/22/2010, 6:29am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas with PSC president Stan Soloway

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By Max Cacas
Reporter
Federal News Radio

A trade group representing companies that provide goods and services to the federal government says it has concerns about provisions found in House and Senate versions of the Defense Authorization Bill.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, told Federal News Radio yesterday that his organization's concerns about the House measure H.R. 5136, which was approved by the entire House on May 28th, can be described this way:

One would be around the topic of insourcing, which has been a hot topic for years. It reemerged as a hot topic again this year. The House-passed version of the Defense Authorization Bill has three insourcing provisions. One is actually a reasonably okay provision. It would essentially prohibit DoD (the Defense Department) from establishing quotas for insourcing, and there is some evidence that is happening now within DoD as a result of budget and personnel requirements. Really, not focused on strategic management of either budgets or people.

Soloway dismissed as "strictly political" two other provisions added to the House Defense Appropriations Bill, offered by Rep. John Sarbanes (D.-Md.) and Rep. Tom Perriello (D.-Va.). He says the Sarbanes amendment would make permanent what he called a "strong preference to insource" any new work within the Department of Defense.

Soloway went on to say that the Perriello amendment to the Defense authorization bill is an "interesting one in that it says that in considering the relative cost between public sector and private sector performance, the government can't consider the cost for health care and other benefits."

He calls that amendment, "absurd, because number one, it's a significant cost element, but secondly, the amendment doesn't talk to the quality of benefits, doesn't talk to the quality of health care, doesn't talk to the quality of other benefits that might be available on a menu that employees choose from."

Soloway also criticizes the fact that neither the Sarbanes or Perriello amendments were subjected to a hearing in a House committee, and instead were added as part of the House Rules Committee's proceedings in considering the Defense Authorization Bill before it went to the floor.

The PSC president has fewer problems with the Senate version of the Pentagon authorization measure S. 3454, which was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

There is a provision in the Senate bill that would allow the Secretary of Defense, in looking at the performance of companies operating overseas, to make a determination if a company defaults, or if a company faults if working for a company in which an individual might be injured or killed in the course of performing their work. Obviously that's a significant thing if it does happen, but it would be completely inappropriate for the Secretary of Defense making those kinds of determinations when we have a judicative process and an investigative process that should lead us to due process.

The Senate version of the Defense Authorization bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate before the month-long August recess. If approved, the bills would then then go to a House-Senate conference in September, where lawmakers would work to resolve differences between the versions of the Defense Authorization Bills passed by each body.

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