Bill Ups Biz Competition with Feds

March 15, 2018

Later this week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to mark-up the Freedom from Government Competition Act (H.R. 1339), legislation that would require federal agencies to rely on the private sector when providing goods and services that are readily available. Sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.), this measure would ensure private enterprises that provide services that are replicated by the federal government have the ability to compete for the opportunity to deliver those federally provided services.

Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) identified that the federal government has more than 1.2 million full-time equivalent employees who are involved in performing commercially available activities. Many of these activities that can be found in the “Yellow Pages” from private companies include small businesses. H.R. 1339 requires a “Yellow Pages” test for every commercial activity undertaken by the federal government.

Specifically, the Freedom from Government Competition Act requires a “Yellow Pages” test, applied by Mayors and Governors that says if you can find private sector firms in the Yellow Pages providing products or services that the government is also providing, then the service should be subject to market competition to break up the government monopoly and prove a better value to the taxpayer.

The measure does not mandate the privatization of any specific federal service and would protect those activities that are inherently governmental, such as certain national defense and homeland security functions, prosecutions, foreign policy, and activities to bind the United States to take or not to take some action by contract, policy, regulation, authorization, or order.

Use of a “Yellow Pages” test on the positions identified under the FAIR Act, if competed within five years, could reap annual savings totaling $20-$28 billion. This effort will improve opportunities for private sector firms to come into the Federal marketplace and pursue additional Federal contracting options. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.