This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) that would have suspended the implementation of Defense Department workforce management policies intended to improve efficiency until the Defense Secretary submits a review of those policies to Congress. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Andrews urged support for his amendment: “I think we've built a bipartisan consensus around the proposition that, on a case-by-case basis over time, we should collect evidence and decide whether or not a certain function is best performed by employees of the Department of Defense or whether it is best performed on a competitive contracted-out basis.…I don't think there's a member on this floor who would oppose an efficiency initiative. But efficiency is not something that presupposes that one answer is always better than the others. And I think the record shows that we're presently living under an initiative that presupposes that contracting out is better than having federal employees perform that function. Here's the evidence: Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2010, Department of Defense services performed by contracting agencies--that is to say companies--increased from $73 billion in fiscal 2001 to $181 billion in fiscal 2010. This is an increase of 147 percent, or about 15 percent per year. During the same period of time, the cost of compensating Department of Defense civilian employees grew from $41 billion in fiscal 2001 to $69 billion in fiscal 2010, a 68 percent increase, or just under 7 percent per year. Now, I am not prejudging as to whether the decisions that make up those aggregate numbers were all right or all wrong….But I think that kind of imbalance shows that we're not conducting the kind of careful, fact-driven, merit-driven evidentiary process that we ought to be following.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) opposed the amendment: “…It [the amendment] would suspend all the sourcing and workforce management policies based on all of DOD's efficiency initiatives, which is a wide gamut…. I think that, even though, as I mentioned before, I think oftentimes the Department of Defense has been wrong in some of its efficiencies, that doesn't mean they've been wrong in every situation. And one of the things that I think is a vital flaw in the gentleman's amendment is that there's no offset for the amendment to cover the reverse on the planned savings. In fact, according to the information I have been given, the cost of not implementing these efficiencies could be as much as $3 billion. That is off of the top line of the Defense budget. And I know the gentleman would agree with me that, at this particular point in time, such a huge hit to the Department of Defense would not be in the best interest of the national defense of the country.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 178-246. Voting “yea” were 175 Democrats and 3 Republicans. 233 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have suspended the implementation of Defense Department workforce management policies intended to improve efficiency until the Defense Secretary submits a review of those policies to Congress.