Frequently Asked Questions About A-76 Civilian Personnel Studies
July 18, 2001 at 8:39 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 3:00 AM
A76 FREQUENTLY ASKED CIVILIAN PERSONNEL QUESTIONS
Q1.What is an A-76 study and how does it work?
A1. An A-76 study is a competition of government-operated activities and the private sector to determine whether commercial activities can be done more economically and efficiently by contract or an in-house workforce. The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance, in a 1966 Congressional Circular by the same name, to govern cost competitions between government-operated commercial activities and the private sector. A-76 studies fall into two categories – direct conversion or cost comparison. In a direct conversion, an activity can be converted directly to contract once cost effectiveness is proven and the activity contains 10 or fewer civilians. Any function with more than 10 civilians must undergo a cost comparison – the second type of study. In a cost comparison, the government develops a most efficient organization (MEO) to compete against the private sector, as opposed to the direct conversion scenario where the government "bid" is the current operating cost of the function.
Q2.What is the purpose for making a tentative decision and is the tentative decision usually or in most cases ultimately the final decision?
A2. Making a tentative decision in the study is a process dictated by law. After the tentative decision, there is a period for appeals and for review of potential appeals.
Q3.The Air Force has decided to go with a contractor; what happens now?
A3. This is a tentative decision subject to review of any appeals that may be submitted by affected government employees and their unions. Interested parties who wish to appeal the decision must address costing issues and noncompliance with Office of Manpower and Budget Circular A-76. The appeals must reference the specific deviation from the established costing procedure and identify documentation to support the claim. All appeals must be submitted in writing to the contracting office at Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas. If appeals are denied and the decision is upheld, a contract will be awarded. If appeals are sustained and the decision is reversed, the government will implement its in-house civilian "most efficient organization."
Q4.The Air Force has decided to keep its in-house workforce; what happens now?
A4. This is a tentative decision subject to review of any appeals that may be submitted by competing contractors. Interested parties who wish to appeal the decision must address costing issues and noncompliance with Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76. The appeals must reference the specific deviation from the established costing procedure and identify documentation to support the claim. All appeals must be submitted in writing to the contracting office at HQ AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas. If appeals are denied and the decision is upheld, the government will implement its in-house civilian "most efficient organization." If appeals are sustained and the decision is reversed, a contract will be awarded.
Q5.What is the difference between "Competitive Sourcing" and "Privatization?"
A5. Competitive Sourcing is an initiative to maximize cost-effectiveness and efficiency, and enhance mission capability by taking advantage of services available through the commercial sector (commercial activities). A function that is competitively sourced and maintained in-house will be converted to a civilian (DoD) workforce. In either case, the government retains responsibility and control of the function, either through service contracts or the DoD civilian Most Efficient Organization (MEO).
Privatization is the transfer of control/ownership of a target business asset and/or the associated activity from the public to the private sector. In this case, the government gives up responsibility for and control of the function. Privatization is also characterized by the shift from public to private capital for the fundamental, long-term financial investment required to sustain theprivatized activity.
Q6.Is Competitive Sourcing an Air Force initiative, or is the entire DoD participating?
A6. Competitive Sourcing has been federal policy since the 1950s. The CS&P initiative is a DoD priority to allow us to become more efficient and effective in providing support. It also frees up military personnel and allows us to concentrate on core competencies; more "tooth-to-tail." It also frees up declining dollars to sustain readiness, fund force modernization, and improve quality of life.
Q7.Will CS&P result in a massive reduction in the number of Air Force people assigned to support career fields?
A7. No. The Air Force was already projected to drawdown 39% (since 1986) by FY03. The CS&P personnel losses only add another 5%. This includes reductions in support career fields as a result of CS&P. So while CS&P will result in personnel reductions, we do not anticipate losses comparable to those in the early '90s.
Q8.Does Competitive Sourcing equate to a reduction in end strength?
A8. Normally, yes. Historically, competitive sourcing results in at least a 20% reduction in strength required in the affected function. However, these reductions in strength are due to improvements in how the processes within the function are performed. It does not mean doing "more with less."
Q9. What is a most efficient organization (MEO)?
A9. During an A-76 study cost comparison study, the government has the opportunity to compete with commercial firms to provide a service. When a government activity develops a proposal to compete for a contract, it is called a most efficient organization (MEO). The MEO is the in-house plan to perform the work, including the organizational structure, resources required, work processes, etc. The objective of the MEO is to find new, innovative and creative ways to provide the required services in the most cost-effective manner.
Q10.Bottom-line, how many jobs, both military and civilian, will be replaced by contractors?
A10. The approximate number is the 472 military and 402 civilian positions.
Q11.Is Competitive Sourcing a means to save money for modernization?
A11. Yes, but that is not the only reason for CS&P. The competitive process allows the Air Force to identify the most efficient way to deliver support services. By identifying alternate and innovative support vehicles, we also improve effectiveness by enabling more Air Force personnel to focus on our core missions.
Q12.What are the considerations given to ensure competitive sourcing makes sense?
A12. CS&P makes sense only if it meets Air Force needs for the future force. Therefore, the number one CS&P goal is to sustain readiness, followed by: improving performance, quality, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of Air Force activities; generating savings for modernization; and focusing personnel and resources on core activities.
Q13.Can you define the steps used in determining whether Competitive Sourcing will be used?
A13. There is a decision tree process by which each function is evaluated to determine if CS&P is feasible. One of the first steps is to determine if the function is inherently governmental or a commercial activity (a recurring service that has the potential to be provided by a non-government source). The next major step is to exempt commercial activities required for national defense (i.e., military essential, wartime required). The last consideration is to determine if competitive sourcing the function is cost effective.
Q14.Will people in career fields that are competitively sourced be retrained and moved to other operational fields?
A14. As we grow into an Aerospace Force, we fully expect our best people to grow with us. For military, this may mean transfer and/or retraining, but it may also mean transition to new "leading edge" opportunities. For civilians, while it could mean loss of Federal Employment, it could, like the military, mean transfer, or it could result in conversion to part of the contractor workforce.
Q15.If my military position is competitively sourced, what will happen to me?
A15. Military members will be offered an opportunity to retrain or be reassigned, if there are no military positions open to them on their installation. Those who choose to leave the Air Force will receive ample time to plan, robust transition programs, and possibly, monetary incentives. Involuntary losses will be a last resort.
Q16.If the military presence in my unit is reduced to only warfighting UTC positions, will I be tapped for deployment so often that I will never see my family?
A16. No. We are carefully monitoring PERSTEMPO impacts by AFS. HQ USAF Personnel officials track the PERSTEMPO rates for all AFSCs closely, incorporating TDY data input. If we see a particular AFS with excessive PERSTEMPO we will take that career track off the table for competition.
Q17. What happens to civilians adversely affected by the conversion of an activity from in-house to contract performance?
A17. It’s Air Force policy to minimize both the adverse effect on employees and the disruption to the operation of the affected organization(s). Every effort will be made to find suitable employment for those permanent employees adversely affected by an activity’s conversion from in-house to contract performance (this includes positions outside the activity being cost compared).
Options include: 1) registering displaced employees in the DoD Priority Placement Program; 2) advocating training and relocating personnel when training and relocating contribute directly to placement; 3) consistent with post-employment restrictions, advising displaced employees they have the right of first refusal for employment with the contractor(s) for vacancies they are qualified for and assisting them in applying for such employment.
While it is Air Force policy to assist adversely affected employees to transition to future employment, each employees’ specific status depends upon the individual’s disposition, as determined by the Civilian Personnel Flight.
Q18. What are the advantages to the local community of competitive sourcing?
A18. There are a number of advantages to the local community of outsourcing. Generally in competitive sourcing the mission will remain at the present location, but it is determined "blue suiters" are not required to accomplish the mission. Whether the A-76 studies result in an in-house operation or contract operation, the result is manning by civilians. These employees, living in the community, can benefit the local economy.
Q19.Why are seemingly unsimilar jobs bundled together as one contract?
A19. Most contracts that do bundling are bid by contractors who specialize in base operating support (BOS)-type functions. Although not linked in Air Force terms, all BOS jobs have one thing in common: they are support functions. Normally, we realize greater savings with larger contracts. Additionally, having one contract to administer is simpler and more efficient for the Air Force.
Q20.Is CS&P another way to do more with less people or to give up some of our support structure?
A20. CS&P will enable us to perform our mission at a lower cost, using fewer military and civilian employees, but more contractors. In this sense, it is a true force multiplier. It also allows us to preserve our critical support capability at less cost. It does not result in a loss of capability, but simply shifts to the most efficient procurement of an existing capability. Don't forget that individuals will still be performing the missions that are competitively sourced or privatized, but those people may work for contractors or private business.
Q21.Units do a lot of "unauthorized" work. As we convert military spaces to either MEOs or private sector, is this work being factored in?
A21. Some of what you call "unauthorized" work, such as time required to perform additional duties, is already factored in to the manpower equation. If there is a valid need to have other specific functions performed, a manpower authorization study needs to be performed and the proper authorizations awarded; most likely such functions could be competitively sourced or privatized. There will be some jobs the Air Force simply can't do anymore, and senior Air Force leadership understands this.
Q22.Has anyone analyzed the amount of real savings from CS&P in past studies?
A22. Yes. Historically we save about 25-30% when we outsource. In the last 10 years, the number is actually about 34% by doing larger, multi-function studies.
Q23. Why was Maxwell chosen as the site for this study? Why not some other base?
A23. The Maxwell study is part of an Air Education and Training Command competitive sourcing plan. This particular study was announced to Congress in April 1998.
Q24. What can you do for people who don’t want to relocate from Montgomery and are also afraid of losing the government benefits they’ve built up as government employees?
A24. If they want to retain their benefits they may need to consider employment in other federal agencies in the Montgomery area.
Q25. After the study has been completed and its recommendations implemented, is it fair to say that there will be fewer jobs after?
A25. That depends, if the results of the decision for an in-house civilian MEO, there will actually be more civilian jobs.
Q26. What sort of an economic impact will this have on the Montgomery area?
A26. There are a number of advantages to the local community of outsourcing. Generally in competitive sourcing the mission will remain at the present location, but it is determined "blue suiters" are not required to accomplish the mission. Whether the A-76 studies result in an in-house operation or contract operation, the result is manning by civilians. These employees, living in the community, can benefit the local economy.
Q27. Will the people who go to work for the contractor be paid as well as they’re being paid now?
A27. The contractor will be required to pay competitive wages to fill the terms of the contract. Conceivably, some employees may earn more, some may earn less than what they currently receive. Also, the benefit package will be different.
Q28. There seems to me to be a danger in replacing military workers with contract workers. You can essentially "force" military people to get job done – they just stay until the mission is completed. But with a contractor, what if they don’t live up to the contract?
A28. One of the goals of this particular cost comparison study is to create a partnership with the contractor. The contractor will become an integral part of the Maxwell-Gunter community.
Q29. You’re building new houses on Maxwell and Gunter. Who’s going to live in them, if the military people are being outsourced? Why don’t all the military people just live in the local community? Wouldn’t that be the most economical thing for the Air Force overall?
A29. Only 402 military positions out of over 4,100 active duty military members at Maxwell and Gunter are affected by the study. There are a lot of military families living off base who are on a waiting list to move on base. Many of our active duty members do live in the local community because we don’t have enough units on Maxwell and Gunter to accommodate all of them. There are also a lot of single military members who are not eligible for housing living in our local communities. So, we won’t have a problem filling any of those units.
Q30. What happens between now and next August? Is it going to be difficult to keep people focused on their jobs, knowing that soon they won’t be in their current positions?
A30. This is a tough question, but let me say that all of our resources will be available to make this transition as painless as possible.
Q31. If outsourcing makes so much sense, why haven’t we heard and seen more about it? Why hasn’t the Air Force been doing this for years?
A31. Actually,competitive sourcing has been around DoD since the early 50s. And, the Air Force has been outsourcing at Maxwell AFB for the past 20 years. However, prior A-76 cost comparison studies have been of a much smaller magnitude, i.e., refuse removal, vehicle operations.
Q32. Over the past 10 years or so we’ve been through "downsizing," "rightsizing," whatever the politically correct term is and we’ve been through base closures. When is enough enough? When do you back off and let people do their jobs?
A32. Government will continue to be "reinvented" because of the sweeping changes in technology and trends in the private sector. The Air Force is simply adopting practices that have evolved in industry.
Q33. Who is the contractor the Air Force selected?
A33. This information will be available after the tentative decision is made by the cost comparison between the MEO and selected best value contractor on 27 Nov 00.
Q34. How did the people whose jobs are affected by this learn their fate?
A34. We are required by law to notify them in writing. As soon as we received notification of the tentative decision from Headquarters AETC we sent a basewide e-mail message to the entire Maxwell-Gunter community to ensure we reached all of the affected workforce. We also met with the affected workforce in one of our auditoriums to explain the implications of the decision and take their questions.
Q35.I understand that "guarantee" is a pretty strong word, buy can you guarantee that the people affected by this study will have jobs after the transition to contract support?
A35. The workforce will have the right of first refusal to contractor jobs that they qualify for. Employment with a contractor will be the employee’s choice.
Q36. Is this part of the base closure process?
Q37. Why doesn’t the military just close more bases? Everybody from Secretary of Defense Cohen on down says that’s the right thing to do.
A37. Base closures are a matter that is decided by Congress.
Q38. If I’m military, am I guaranteed to keep my job?
A38. Military personnel who are working in positions that are affected by the A-76 are either coded 36 or 54. Military personnel coded 54 are serving in an AFSC that can possibly be utilized elsewhere on the installation and therefore based on manning requirements at the time of implementation may be retained at Maxwell/Gunter. Military personnel coded 36 will be given an assignment and utilized at other installations as required.
Q39. If I’m civil service, what if I don’t want to leave Maxwell and don’t want to work for a contractor?
A39. If you want to maintain a civil service career you may need to be flexible and relocate, though some employees will be placed in positions throughout Maxwell-Gunter.
Q40. How is this going to affect my benefits package?
A40. "Benefits" will remain the same for employees who continue federal service.
Q41. Is the Air Force trying to say that weapons are more important than people?
A41. Again, the emphasis is on adopting best business practices of industry and focusing on our core mission.
Q42. What kind of wages will the contractor be paying?
A42. Competitive to the private sector in the Montgomery wage area.
Q43. Is there any way to guarantee that the level of my benefits remains constant?
A43. With the contractor, no. As a federal employee, they will remain the same.
Q44. Can the government guarantee that I can maintain my current standard of living?
Q45. I’m a military worker, but have less than three years left on my enlistment. If my job is outsourced, can I go directly to work for the contractor? In other words, will the final year of my service commitment be waived?
A45. There will be no automatic curtailment of military obligation in conjunction with the A-76.
Q46. What happens when the contractor fails to perform, like with the base housing maintenance contractor?
A46. If the contractor fails to perform satisfactorily, the government could elect not to exercise the next option year and reprocure. Also, if circumstances warrant it, the contract could be terminated for default prior to the end of a performance period and reprocured.
Q47. Can you give us some information about job prospects under the MEO?
A47. Majority of employees placed at their current grade
In some occupations new hires
Some promotion opportunities
Q48. Is length of service the only factor in determining who keeps their job?
A48. No--"Retention Standing" is based on:
LENGTH OF SERVICE (SCD)
PERFORMANCE RATINGS (Superior, Excellent or Fully Successful)
Q49. I have heard that as a retired military member I am not considered a veteran under RIF?
A49. Generally speaking retired military have the same retention status as non-veterans
A personnel specialist will explain to each military retiree their personal RIF standing at the appropriate time
Q50. If I am reduced in grade due to RIF, how long may I retain my present grade?
A50. Employees retain their grade for up to two years after being placed in a lower graded position. Thereafter, employees become eligible for pay retention.
Q51. Does the Priority Placement Program (PPP) ("Stopper List") apply only to positions within Air Force?
A51. No. The PPP applies to all DoD activities throughout the CONUS
Q52. If I receive a lower graded position offer under RIF can I still remain registered in the PPP for my current grade?
A52. Yes. You will remain registered during the remainder of your RIF notice period.
Q53. Is it true that registration in the PPP is limited to a distance of 500 miles?
A53. No. The area of registration can be to specific activities, states, regions, zones or to the whole of CONUS.
The CPF will assist each employee in determining the appropriate area of a referral.
Q54. Who is eligible for severance pay?
A54. Most employees separated by RIF are entitled to severance pay, provided they have twelve months of continuous service and are not eligible for an immediate annuity.
Retired military members are not eligible
There is a lifetime limit of 52 weeks of severance pay per employee
Q55. If separated by RIF, can I be re-employed by the government in the future?
A55. Individuals serving on permanent appointments are considered "reinstatement eligibles" and can apply for advertised vacancies throughout the federal government.
Q60. How can I get employment consideration at other Federal and Non-Federal agencies?
A60. Employees can register, at any time, in the Defense Outplacement Referral System (DORS).
Program is voluntary and is separate and distinct from the PPP rules
Q61. If my position is abolished will I be offered Discontinued Service Retirement?
A61. An employee identified for involuntary separation under RIF is eligible for DSR if they meet the age and years of service requirements and are not offered a position within two grades of their permanent position.
Age 50 and 20 years of service
Any age and 25 years of service
Q62. Will the people who go to work for the contractor be paid as well as they’re being paid now?
A62. The contractor will be required to pay competitive wages to fill the terms of the contract. Conceivably, some employees may earn more, some may earn less than what they currently receive. Also, the benefit packages will be different.
Q63. How will my benefits be affected?
A63. "Benefits" will remain the same for employees who continue working for federal government.
Q64. What kind of wages will the contractor pay?
A64. Competitive to the private sector in the Montgomery wage area.
Q65. On July 18, when the announcement is made, and Most Efficient Organization wins the final appeal, will announcements be made immediately on filling positions that are available?
A65. What the caller refers to as an appeal is actually a protest that was filed April 9.If the Government Accounting Office upholds the Most Efficient Organization as the best service provider, the Civilian Personnel Flight will staff MEO positions under reduction-in-force procedures using internal employees as first priority candidates. Internal permanent employees whose positions are eliminated to form the MEO have mandatory placement rights to positions for which they are qualified.
Next, qualified candidates registered on the DoD Priority Placement Program or “stopper list” must be considered.After these two sources of priority candidates are cleared, the remaining vacant positions will be filled using other sources and announcements, as necessary, to recruit qualified applicants.