Washington, DC -The National Park Service is racing to finalize a plan for replacing thousands of its employees with private contractors, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).NPS is preparing its first phase of contracting reviews involving some 1800 positions. Later phases entail potential replacement of 11,000 employees, more than two thirds of the Park Service's permanent workforce.
Under the "Competitive Sourcing" program, announced by President Bush and overseen by his Office of Management & Budget, civil service positions will be subject to outsourcing with private firms. Overall, OMB is targeting 425,000 federal government jobs for outsourcing.
The Park Service has had to rely on a private contractor to design the plan, awarding a blanket $5,000,000 purchase order to the Denver-based engineering/management firm CH2MHill to develop an outsourcing plan at a cost of approximately $3,000 per job studied. The CH2MHILL "Competitive Sourcing" contract -
Was awarded without competitive bidding, despite the program's stated purpose of promoting competition;
Is being financed out of parks operations and maintenance budgets; and
Does not prohibit CH2MHILL from bidding itself on jobs it packages for outsourcing. CH2MHILL, a multi-billion dollar business, offers a range of environmental and natural resource services and has operating contracts for managing military and other federal facilities.
Positions subject to contracting include not only operations and maintenance staff but also park biologists, archeologists, environmental specialists and interpretive park rangers. In its haste to move the controversial program forward, NPS have yet to assess its impacts on park operations, scientific integrity and workforce diversity. There has been no consultation with unions or other employee groups about the plan.
"In its blind rush to curry favor inside the Bush Administration, the Department of Interior is auctioning away the professional underpinning essential to the protection of the nation's natural and cultural heritage," stated PEER Board member Frank Buono, a retired Park Service manager. "Those pushing this program see no difference between Disney World and Yosemite or the Everglades; they believe the world's premier park system should be run like a conglomerate, guided by corporate rather than public values."
Learn more about CH2MHILL at www.ch2m.com