PSC: Union Backed Contractor Cuts Misses Critical Consideration

Arlington, VA, February 11, 2013—Substantial reductions to federal contractor workforces could cause irreparable damage to the industrial base and economy and should not be the sole basis of sequestration savings, the Professional Services Council said in response to a public employee union report issued today. 

PSC Executive Vice President and Counsel Alan Chvotkin said: 

Far from being safe or appropriate, obtaining 70 to 90 percent of the sequestration cuts from the hundreds of thousands of federal contractor employees would cripple the government and devastate the economy. Indeed, many PSC members have already reported the actions Mr. Tiefer outlined in his “guidance” and are feeling the results in the forms of lost revenue and forced layoffs—not furloughs, but layoffs—of valued staff. 

Further, the AFGE statement from Mr. Tiefer addresses only “how” agencies could go about reducing federal services contracts. It does not add any new information to the debate. In fact, it is less information than agencies already have available and that PSC has already provided to our members over the past 12 months. It fails to address the consequences of agencies taking those actions—including the potential for increasing agency costs under certain scenarios. Furthermore, his commentary on the interpretation and operation of the 2011 Budget Control Act is not correct.

Even so, Mr. Tiefer acknowledges the need for agencies to communicate with its vendors to find appropriate alternatives to meeting agency needs, but he fails to discuss the key responsibility of agencies to first make strategic decisions about what work needs to be accomplished to meet its missions. Only by understanding “what” agencies must accomplish will they know how they could act to accomplish those objectives. 

Finally, while Mr. Tiefer laments the “bad news” that service contractors, like any other business (or federal employee unions speaking out on behalf of their members, for that matter), are not eager to voluntarily give up revenue, he ignores the reality that significant reductions have already occurred in the federal services market. 

All that said, PSC has long acknowledged that federal employees are critical to our nation and it is no wiser to take savings exclusively from the federal workforce than it is to take the savings exclusively from contractors.

This petty “us v. them” debate must end. Right now, both federal and contractors employees are feeling and will continue to feel the fiscal pinch. We must work together to help the government find the savings required. 

Read more about PSC’s position on “The Workforce Realities of Austerity” here.

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About PSC: PSC is the voice of the government professional and technical services industry. PSC’s more than 350 member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses that provide federal agencies with services of all kinds, including information technology, engineering, logistics, facilities management, operations and maintenance, consulting, international development, scientific, social, environmental services, and more. Together, the trade association’s members employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states. Follow PSC on Twitter @PSCSpeaks and @StanSoloway.