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Commercial Services Management FAQs

  1. I want to know which Maryland Congress persons you notified. I am interested in their views concerning A76.
  2. What is the FEDERAL ACTIVITIES INVENTORY REFORM ACT OF 1998?
  3. What are the results of the RSPA Inventory?
  4. I am confused on how the competitive sourcing process works at PHMSA and the relationships between the Requirements Statement Team, Agency Tender Official, Most Efficient Organization, Contracting Officer, and Source Selection Authority. Is there a flow chart or diagram that describes processes that will be followed?
  5. Can contractors who currently work with us be a bidder during this competitive sourcing competition?
  6. I work with contractors every day who may eventually be bidders for the work we do. How should I relate to them now?
  7. Wouldn't it be inappropriate for contractors who might be potential bidders on this contract to be trying to gather information about our processes, procedures, and statistics before bids have been officially solicited?
  8. Is it appropriate to do a competitive sourcing study of positions where special rates apply?
  9. What happens if the study determines the function is awarded to the in-house organization (the Most Efficient Organization)?
  10. Can I lose my grade and pay if the MEO wins?
  11. If the MEO wins, can my function be studied again, and if so, how soon?
  12. What happens if the study determines the function is to be awarded to a private sector contractor?
  13. If private sector wins the bid, do I get priority consideration for employment with that firm, and if so, how does that work? Is this the same as Right of First Refusal?
  14. Is a contractor obligated to offer the same compensation and benefits package as RSPA?
  15. If the Government loses the competition, will A-76 team members be prohibited from accepting employment or consulting contracts with the successful bidder?
  16. If a contractor wins the bid for my function, when would that company actually start doing the work?
  17. What should employees do while the study is taking place?
  18. I still feel very stressed. Is there a way to seek help in managing my concerns?
  19. What are RSPA's soft landing alternatives?
  20. What are buyout and early out authorities?
  21. What is RIF (reduction in force)? How does it apply to competitive sourcing?
  22. How are Federal benefits affected in a RIF situation?
  23. Do severance pay and unemployment compensation apply in RIF?
  24. What programs are available to give affected employees priority in finding jobs?
  25. Will I get official time to participate in career transition activities?
  26. When is an employee whose job has been abolished eligible for discontinued service retirement?
  27. What if an employee is not separated through RIF but instead experiences a change to lower grade as a result of RIF procedures. Do grade and pay retention provisions apply?
  28. How long does grade retention last and how does it work?
  29. What is pay retention and how long does it last?
  30. If an employee chooses to take a deferred annuity, is he or she eligible for severance pay?
  31. What effect will the A-76 competition have on employees in term and temporary positions?
  32. Please provide a milestone schedule showing the steps in the CS process and the expected completion dates.
  33. The RSPA Human Capital Plan indicates that Female Black employees are overrepresented in the administrative professional and support occupations. Will White Males, Hispanics, and people with disabilities be requested when a Contractor supplies the administrative support?
  34. May 14 is the anticipated last day to get the Requirement Statement (RS) to the CO according to the official schedule. Will the affected employees get an opportunity to review the draft RS before the final RS is handed to the CO?
  35. I recently read the RSPA Diversity Plan for FY 03-05. I have difficulty understanding CS and achieving the goals outlined in the diversity plan.
  36. My question is about how RSPA was able to honor the challenge period for affected CS employees. When affected employees were informed on March 8, 2004, that they were incumbent in positions targeted for CS, more than 60 days had elapsed since the January 7, 2004 deadline for appeals to the inventory. Please explain how the rights of the affected employees were upheld in light of the dates major CS actions were accomplished by RSPA in the FAIR Act process.
  37. On the composite DOT CY2002 Commercial and Inherently Governmental FTE Inventory shown on the RSPA web site under Competitive Sourcing, RSPA uses the notation "LE10FTE" and "Core" in column K under "Status" - " Reason Sub." What do "LE10FTE" and "Core" mean? Also under the "Status" block, there is a column denoted "FCT" with notations such as "D100." What does "FCT" stand for and the notations such as "D100?"
  38. According to a discussion I had with the BTS CS point-of-contact, BTS took the proposal to create RITA as a new O/A into consideration in compiling its FAIR Act inventory. As a result, BTS coded all "C" commercial activities with an "E" (pending an agency approved restructuring decision) for approximately 150 FTEs in BTS. The passing reference to the RITA proposal in the RSPA CS Plan only provides a vague and unspecific reference to RITA that doesn't provide a satisfactory explanation. Why didn't RSPA take a similar approach to use the RITA proposal for a legitimate delay in the CS/A-76 process until the details on the RSPA/BTS reorganization/ merger into RITA were clearer?
  39. Please ensure the affected employees in the CS process are officially notified when the start date for the streamline 90 days process occurs.
  40. Please provide a web link to FedBizOpps and notification to CS affected employees where the RSPA announcement can be accessed on the day it is published.
  41. I see numerous references to the MEO and very often the reference includes the statement, "If a Most Efficient Organization (MEO) is developed." Why is this qualifier necessary? Why is the preparation of a MEO spoken to as if was an option? Isn't the MEO as critical as the Requirements Statement and the market research cost estimate? Under what conditions would a MEO not be prepared? What would be the consequence to CS targeted employees if a MEO wasn't prepared?
  42. The revised CS milestone schedule (May 18, 2004) states: May 28, 2004 - Prepare the Requirements Statement June 4, 2004 - CO accepts the Requirements Statement In what state of completion is the Requirements Statement in today? Draft? Shouldn't the May 28th Milestone be "Requirement Statement Preparation -- Completed." Between today and May 28th there are only six work days. Will the CS affected employees be given the opportunity to review a draft RS before May 28th? Between May 28th and June 4th when the RS is given to the CO, there are only three work days. This isn't a reasonably sufficient time for the employees (and the ATO?) to review the RS, if that is planned/allowed.
  43. Have the "targeted employees" been apprised of their options if the government wins or not? For example, if the government does not "win" its case through the Competitive Sourcing issue, what happens to a person's retirement monies -- does it carry over to what? And what happens to their other benefits, such as life insurance, health insurance, annual and sick leave totals, etc.???
  44. Is the Requirements Statement going to be presented to the CO today in accordance with the official CS milestone schedule?
  45. I have heard that employees in certain areas of RSPA that are directly effected by the A76 Out Sourcing situation have been placed in other positions in order to retain their tenure with the Federal Government. As far as I know they are no longer considered one of the targeted employees affected by this situation. Can you confirm rather or not this is true and if so what type of guidance can be given to the managers in my area so I will no longer be affected by this situation.
  46. Since some of the affected Federal Government workers live in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, was Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton notified along with the other Senators and Representatives for the surrounding Metropolitan area, of the Competitive Sourcing procedures RSPA and DOT were undertaking, and apprised as to how their constituents could possibly be targeted?
  47. In the past when hiring contractors to perform administrative duties, there were limitations on what contractors were able to perform as part of their job duties. Two of the limitations that come to mind, are time cards and visa card usage. Contractors were not allow to input T&A data nor were they allowed to handle gov't credit cards for the office in purchasing items for the office. Is this limitation lifted under the competitive sourcing criteria or is this still a standard regulation that limits them in performing these duties.
  48. I assume there is no prohibition for me to forward official replies on CS questions or any other information included under the CS link to outsiders that appear on the RSPA web site since the information is available to the public. This would also include the media, Congress, and the Federal judiciary. Am I correct?
  49. What is the official Scope of Services/Work and cost for the BAE, Inc. contract support to RSPA for competitive sourcing?
  50. These dates were on the RSPA web page: November 21, 2003 - Federal Register notice published December 2003 - OMB approves 2003 RSPA FAIR Act inventory January 7, 2004 - Last day to appear FAIR Act 2003 inventory February 18, 2004 - OST approves RSPA FY 2004 Competitive Sourcing Plan and Inventory March 8, 2004 - RSPA notifies employees to be affected by CS process Since the RSPA employees were not informed until after the appeal date had passed and after OST had approved the RSPA FY 2004 Competitive Sourcing Plan and Inventory, that really does not seem to be fair to any of the targeted employees. Their voices were not allowed to be heard. Were the Congressional Representatives (Senators and Congresspersons) for Maryland, D.C., and Virginia notified of this fact? Are the Congressional Representatives also being apprised of the milestone dates for the HQ A-76 competition (May 28, June 4, June 18, Aug. 19, Sept. 5, Sept. 12, and Sept. 19)???
  51. I read the official answer to question 36 but the answer prompts me to ask: Any affected employee who reacted to the Deputy Administrator's email notice on November 23, 2004, wouldn't have been able to tell from the generic function descriptions that they were an incumbent in a position targeted for CS. Between November 24, 2003 and March 8, 2004, the affected CS employees were unaware of potential effect to them from CS. No appeals could be made after January 7, 2004 and this fact wasn't made known to affected employee until the Competitive Sourcing link was made available on March 8, 2004 nor did RSPA attempt to make a good faith effort to keep employees informed about the CS process and the potential effect it could have on their positions. Please explain.
  52. Relating to the A-76 Circular states on page A-4:"2. Submission of an Inventory Challenge." Did RSPA follow the letter or spirit of this provision? I don't think it did. Your reference to when (time) a Commercial position is competed isn't the issue. The manner in which RSPA handle the A-76/ FAIR Act in this present round is abysmal and I feel I know who is responsible and should be held accountable. They should have the integrity to admit the error and cancel this faulted competition.
  53. What is the BAE work order performance period? The affected employees were first informed that a RS and a MEO would need to be developed on March 8, 2004. What is the source of funding?
  54. In the May 29, 2003, OMB Circular A-76 (Revised), Attachment B, Section (A)(8)(e) on page B-3, it specifies the SSA "be independent of the ATO, HRA, and the MEO team." The RSPA SSA (Ed Brigham) supervises the HRA and some of the MEO team. And he supervises the CO and staff who are responsible for the contract with the MEO support firm. Is this allowed in view of the A-76 specification in letter and spirit?
  55. I recall at the initial CS meeting on March 8, 2004, it was announced that the CS web link was available on the RSPA web site. Was March 8, 2004, the first day the RSPA CS web link was made available with pertinent information on the CS process?
  56. At the May 27 CS meeting, Linda Rhoads said regulations covering early out/buy out authority in connection with the FAIR Act/A-76 CS process specifically require that the CS process must be followed to the end before any authority can be requested or granted and that pre-approved authority for early outs/buy-outs can't be done. What is the source citation and text of this regulation?
  57. It appears from the FY 2003 inventory for HQ, 13.7 FTEs (coded C-B) first appeared on the inventory in 2001. Only one Regulatory Activities Support FTE was added on the 2003 inventory bringing the number to 14.7 FTEs.
  58. I only found this morning from Pat Burke that (name) was excused from the CS process. Please tell me why this was done.
  59. In the event the CS process outcome allows buy outs, is RSPA in a financial position to afford any buy outs as might be required to pay entitled CS employees the requisite sums from FY04 and/or FY05 funds?
  60. Please explain how the RSPA HQ reorganization under the Mineta Bill will affect the MEO/AMS since six positions in the RSPA MEO/AMS are positions that are slated to support DPS and DHM and the AMS is to be organized under DMA's Office of Administration. Please be very specific by explaining how the MEO/AMS will or will not be affected.
  61. Who will take care of time and attendance?
  62. Who pays for training?
  63. Who pays for/provides AMS/MEO staff supplies and equipment?
  64. Who makes the final decision concerning staff selection?
  65. Who approves leave?
  66. How are salaries covered?
  67. Will the Administrative and Management Support (AMS) office have its own budget, accounting string, routing symbol, etc? If so, what budget requirements are to be met with the funding afforded? What accounting string has been assigned? What's the routing symbol?
  68. If it is determined that an employee in the AMS should be given an award, which office funds it?

  1. I want to know which Maryland Congress persons you notified. I am interested in their views concerning A76.

    In Maryland, Senators Sarbanes and Mikulski, and Representatives Wynn and Van Hollen were notified. The names of directly affected PHMSA employees were not provided in order to protect their privacy.

    If you are a directly affected PHMSA Headquarters employee, please let us know at A76@dot.gov if you would like us to provide your name to your Representative and/or Senators.

  2. What is the FEDERAL ACTIVITIES INVENTORY REFORM ACT OF 1998?

    The Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-270) is often referred to as the "FAIR Act." It requires the publication by OMB of a notice of public availability of each agency's inventory of activities that are not inherently governmental, and of activities that are inherently governmental. 

  3. What are the results of the RSPA Inventory?

    PHMSA established a working group, with members from each program office, to develop its 2003 inventory. In summary, PHMSA identified 983.8 FTE of which 520.2 FTE were coded Inherently Governmental, and 463.6 FTE were coded Commercial. Of the Commercial functions, 88.1 FTE were submitted with reason code B - which means they are suitable for competition. 

  4. I am confused on how the competitive sourcing process works at PHMSA and the relationships between the Requirements Statement Team, Agency Tender Official, Most Efficient Organization, Contracting Officer, and Source Selection Authority. Is there a flow chart or diagram that describes processes that will be followed?

    Yes. Flow diagrams have been developed that describe the PHMSA HQ streamlined competition process, and the Volpe streamlined competition process.

  5. Can contractors who currently work with us be a bidder during this competitive sourcing competition?

    The current competitions at Headquarters and the Volpe Center are being conducted as streamlined competitions using market research. While the ATO is preparing the government's proposal, the Contracting Officer will be developing an estimated cost for the private sector to perform the Requirement Statement. This process will be conducted using documented market research to determine the estimated cost. There will be no opportunity for the private sector to develop a More Efficient Organization, or to submit a proposal.

  6. I work with contractors every day who may eventually be bidders for the work we do. How should I relate to them now?

    Continue performing your job as always. Interact with contractor personnel the way you always have. You should not discuss the planned A-76 competition with those employees, or answer any questions they may have about the competition.

    Once PHMSA develops the Requirement Statement/Statement of Work, it will be provided to the Agency Tender Official - ATO who will work with you in preparing a proposal for submission to the Contracting Officer in a sealed envelope. The ATO is encouraged to develop a new "Most Efficient Organization" as part of the proposal. It is possible that the ATO, in attempting to submit a proposal with the best chance of winning, may develop a new "Most Efficient Organization" with some of the work (for example where there are current vacancies) planned to be subcontracted to the private sector. If that occurs, the proposal will consist of a certain amount of work proposed to be performed by Government employees, and a portion by contractor employees. To prepare that type of a proposal the ATO may be in contact with management personnel of private sector companies. It is important that you stay in touch with, work closely with, and share information with, the ATO during the critical proposal preparation process. (See Question 7).

  7. Wouldn't it be inappropriate for contractors who might be potential bidders on this contract to be trying to gather information about our processes, procedures, and statistics before bids have been officially solicited?

    Contractors who are potential bidders on a commercial function under study should not contact employees working in the functional area. However, in the event that you are contacted, please do not disclose any information about the operations of the functional area. Please refer the requestor to the Competitive Sourcing Coordinator (Tom Scott), who will in turn refer the matter to the assigned contracting officer.

  8. Is it appropriate to do a competitive sourcing study of positions where special rates apply?

    The fact that a special rate has been authorized for a position does not preclude including that position as part of competitive sourcing. The reasons for establishing a special rate and for conducting a competition are different. Special rates are established for positions when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) determines that the higher rates are necessary to assist Federal agencies to fill the positions. Special rates are usually defined by geographic area, series and grade. Thus, all the positions in a geographic area in a designated series and at the designated grade(s) are covered by the special rate regardless of the particular situation at an agency.

    The Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998 requires functions performed by Federal employees to be designated either as inherently governmental or commercial. This designation is based solely on the nature of the function, not on the individual positions that are required to perform the function. The fact that a position is covered by a special rate has no bearing as to whether it is part of an inherently governmental or a commercial function.

    If a function is determined to be commercial and the agency conducts a competition for that function, the key determination will be whether the Federal government or a contractor can perform the function in a more cost effective manner. The salaries paid to special rate employees will be considered as part of the Federal government's costs during the competition process versus the contractor's costs for performing the same functions.

  9. What happens if the study determines the function is awarded to the in-house organization (the Most Efficient Organization)?

    If the government wins, RSPA will be required to implement the Most Efficient Organization (MEO) as it was proposed by the Agency Tender Official. If the MEO proposal calls for fewer full time equivalents (FTE) than the current number of FTEs performing the function, management will look at its options to meet the MEO, while minimizing adverse effects on RSPA employees

    RSPA is committed to working hard to help affected employees and minimize personal impact. First, RSPA will assertively pursue voluntary actions and the full range of services to "soften the landing" of affected employees. (See Question 19). It is also RSPA's goal to either avoid or minimize the need for a reduction-in-force. (See Question 21.)

  10. Can I lose my grade and pay if the MEO wins?

    Yes. If the MEO establishes positions at lower grades than currently exist, and your position is abolished, RIF (see Question 21) procedures may allow you to be placed in a lower graded position. If this is the case, grade and pay retention regulations apply. (See Question 27.)

  11. If the MEO wins, can my function be studied again, and if so, how soon?

    Yes. If the MEO wins the competition a Letter of Obligation (LOO) (similar to a contract with a commercial organization) is executed between the MEO (signed by the ATO) and the agency (signed by the CO). The LOO will contain a specified period of performance (e.g. five (5) years) for performance of the activity by the MEO. At the end of the LOO period of performance the agency is required to evaluate whether another competition of those functions is warranted.

  12. What happens if the study determines the function is to be awarded to a private sector contractor?

    First, RSPA will actively pursue "soft landing" alternatives for employees. (See Question 19.) It is also RSPA's goal to either avoid or minimize the need for a reduction-in-force. (See Question 21.) Employees whose functions undergo competition and subsequently are converted to a private sector contractor are also eligible for Right of First Refusal (ROFR). (See Question 13.) Federal Acquisition Regulations provide for the ROFR that requires the successful contractor to offer affected employees first consideration for open positions available under the contract for which they qualify. A standard clause indicating this is included in the Requirement Statement and the resulting contract.

  13. If private sector wins the bid, do I get priority consideration for employment with that firm, and if so, how does that work? Is this the same as Right of First Refusal?

    If the contractor has vacancies under the new contract containing the functions that were awarded under the A-76 competition and the displaced employees are qualified, they have the Right of First Refusal. The Right of First Refusal does not guarantee employment by the contractor. The contract clause "Right of First Refusal of Employment" is from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.207-3. The full text of that clause appears below:

    52.207-3 Right of First Refusal of Employment.

    Right of First Refusal of Employment (Nov 1991)

    (a) The Contractor shall give Government employees who have been or will be adversely affected or separated as a result of award of this contract the right of first refusal for employment openings under the contract in positions for which they are qualified, if that employment is consistent with post-Government employment conflict of interest standards.

    (b) Within 10 days after contract award, the Contracting Officer will provide to the Contractor a list of all Government employees who have been or will be adversely affected or separated as a result of award of this contract.

    (c) The Contractor shall report to the Contracting Officer the names of individuals identified on the list who are hired within 90 days after contract performance begins. This report shall be forwarded within 120 days after contract performance begins.

    (End of clause)
  14. Is a contractor obligated to offer the same compensation and benefits package as RSPA?

    A contractor must pay wages based on the Department of Labor Service Contract Act (SCA) wage determinations specified in the solicitation. Except for bona fide executive, administrative and professional positions exempt from SCA wage determination coverage, any employee must be paid the minimum wage determined by the Federal Labor Standards Act. Contractors do not have to pay the same as the government does and there is no requirement that the selected contractor be obligated to include any benefits not included in a SCA wage determination. However, there are contractors who have employee benefit packages that offer higher salaries and benefits than the government.

  15. If the Government loses the competition, will A-76 team members be prohibited from accepting employment or consulting contracts with the successful bidder?

    Post-Employment (18 U.S.C. 207), Representation (18 U.S.C. 203 and 205) and Procurement Integrity Act (41 U.S.C. 423) restrictions may apply to some A-76 team participants involved in the acquisition process (e.g., source evaluation or selection). Employees should check with their RSPA Ethics Counselor for specific guidance.

  16. If a contractor wins the bid for my function, when would that company actually start doing the work?

    Time frames for start dates at the company would be determined by a Transition Plan and Memo of Understanding with the contractor which will be developed.

  17. What should employees do while the study is taking place?

    While the study is taking place, employees are expected to continue performing their work assignments in the same manner as before the study was announced. They are also given the opportunity to participate in the development of the statement of work that will be used and the design of RSPA's proposal to meet that statement of work. Until the study is completed and a decision made, it is impossible to predict the outcome or degree of impact. While feelings of uncertainty, stress, and/or anxiety are natural, RSPA is committed to providing a supportive atmosphere to help employees be pro-active in dealing with these emotions. Employees are free to explore other career options. However, we would encourage employees not to make hasty decisions with so many unknowns.

  18. I still feel very stressed. Is there a way to seek help in managing my concerns?

    Human Resources staff is available to provide you information about your particular situation. If you feel you would like to meet with someone for a confidential counseling session, the employee assistance program is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. RSPA HQ and field employees, other than the Volpe Center, call 1-800-222-0364 for a private appointment. RSPA/Volpe Center employees call 617-565-6533 or 1-800-869-8867. Volpe Center bargaining unit employees represented by NAGE Local R1-195 may also want to confer with their union representatives.

  19. What are RSPA's soft landing alternatives?

    RSPA will assertively seek local reassignment opportunities within RSPA and DOT for employees and also work with the Department to request early retirement authority, as well as requesting authority to offer separation incentives (buy outs). (See Question 20.) Employees will be provided career transition services, e.g., training in resume writing and interviewing skills, and given certificates entitling them to priority consideration for positions inside and outside of RSPA. (See Question 24.) Retraining may also be provided to help employees close skill gaps or to equip the employees for transition to a new occupation. Retraining may consist of existing mechanisms such as cross-training, mentoring, and rotational assignments. Grade and pay retention will be provided within the regulations covering those benefits. (See Question 27.) If separated from the Federal service, employees will continue to receive placement assistance for a period of time and if eligible, severance pay and unemployment compensation. (See Question 23.) Numerous benefits are also provided through State employment services.

  20. What are buyout and early out authorities?

    Voluntary Early Out Authority (VERA) enables employees with at least 20 years of service and age 50, or 25 years of service and at any age to retire during a period established by the agency. Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees under age 55 will have their annuities reduced by 2% a year for every year under 55, but there is no reduction for Federal Employee Retirement Service (FERS) employees. Those employees who transferred fromCSRS to FERS receive an annuity comprised of a FERS component and a CSRS component. The CSRS component will be subject to the reduction. The authority must be granted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). 

    Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) authority - commonly known as buyouts - generally enables people to get the lesser of what their severance pay would be if they were separated by RIF or $25,000, if they voluntarily leave by resignation or retirement. This authority must be granted by OPM and the Office of Management and Budget

  21. What is RIF (reduction in force)? How does it apply to competitive sourcing?

    Reduction-in-Force (RIF) refers to the statutory and regulatory procedures Federal agencies must follow when it is necessary to lay off employees, furlough them for more than 30 days, reassign them when doing so would displace another employee, or demote them because of lack of funds, reorganization, changes in program or decreases in work. Any of these situations might arise when a function previously performed in-house is converted to contract or the MEO implementation results in fewer positions. In all RIF actions, RSPA will provide AT LEAST a 60-day notice to all adversely impacted employees. For more information, see the "OPM Employee's Guide to RIF".

  22. How are Federal benefits affected in a RIF situation?

    The "Office of Personnel Management's Employee's Guide to Benefits for Those Affected by Reduction in Force" covers how an employee's retirement, health, life insurance and the Thrift Savings Plan are affected when the employee is separated under RIF regulations. A copy may be obtained online at http://www.opm.gov/rif/general/egrifben.htm.

  23. Do severance pay and unemployment compensation apply in RIF?

    Yes. If employees are separated under a RIF (see Question 21), employees are entitled to severance pay unless they are eligible to retire. Eligibility for unemployment compensation is dependent upon individual state rules. Human Resources can provide employees with severance pay estimates. Employees can also estimate the amount of their severance pay using the "OPM Employee's Guide to Benefits" for those affected by RIF. Human Resources can also provide information about unemployment benefits.

  24. What programs are available to give affected employees priority in finding jobs?

    There are several programs that provide placement priority to employees who are expected to be separated by a RIF. (See Question 21.) All have specific eligibility requirements so you should consult with Human Resources if you need further information.

    • Employees who are identified as surplus can be given a Certification that entitles them to special placement privileges even before they get a specific RIF notice. If they apply for a DOT job in their same commuting area and are well qualified, they must be placed in the position. After they get a specific RIF notice saying they will be displaced, they get the same special treatment outside DOT as well. These privileges are part of the Career Transition Assistance Program - CTAP - (before the RIF notice is issued) and the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program - ICTAP - (after a specific RIF notice). This priority remains for up to one year after separation unless the employee turns down an equivalent offer or gets an equivalent Federal position.
    • Employees separated by Reduction in Force can apply to be on the DOT-wide Reemployment Priority List (RPL). When these employees qualify for a specific vacant position that is in a DOT organization in the local commuting area and at the same grade level as the job from which they have separated, that position cannot be filled from outside DOT without first offering the job to the qualified RPL registrant. In specific circumstances, this benefit may be available before employees are separated. Employees must register to be considered and can also choose to be considered for lower graded positions. The benefit is in effect for up to two years for career employees and one year for career conditional employees unless they turn down an equivalent offer or accept a permanent Federal position.
       
  25. Will I get official time to participate in career transition activities?

    If you receive a certification of surplus status (see question 24) or a RIF notice (see question 21), you will receive official time to pursue career transition activities.

  26. When is an employee whose job has been abolished eligible for discontinued service retirement?

    An employee is eligible for discontinued service retirement under both CSRS and FERS only if the employee is adversely impacted by an involuntary action (such as job abolishment or reassignment to a position in a different commuting area), and does not receive an offer from his or her agency of another position in the same local commuting area that is within two grades of the employee's present position.

    1. The employee must be at least age 50 and have completed 20 or more years of total creditable service, or
    2. The employee may be any age, but must have completed a minimum of 25 years of total creditable service.

    Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the gross annual annuity of an employee who retires before age 55 on a discontinued service retirement is reduced by 2% a year (or the month fraction thereof) for each year the employee is under 55. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), there is no annuity reduction for employees who retire on a discontinued service annuity under the age of 55. Those employees who transferred from CSRS to FERS receive an annuity comprised of a FERS component and a CSRS component. The CSRS component will be subject to the reduction.

  27. What if an employee is not separated through RIF but instead experiences a change to lower grade as a result of RIF procedures. Do grade and pay retention provisions apply?

    Grade and pay retention apply in certain situations when an employee is demoted through no fault of his/her own. For example, if an employee's position is abolished by virtue of being converted to a private sector contractor or an MEO that is not "status quo" (i.e. the MEO proposes changes to the existing organization and positions to make the organization more efficient and more competitive), and that employee is placed in a lower graded position through RIF procedures, (see Question 21) then grade retention would apply as long as the employee had served 52 consecutive weeks (or more) at a grade level higher than the grade to which the employee was demoted.

  28. How long does grade retention last and how does it work?

    Eligible employees may receive grade retention for two years commencing on the date in which the employee is placed in the lower graded position. During the two-year period, an employee's retained grade is considered the employee's grade for pay administration purposes, retirement, life insurance, eligibility for training, and noncompetitive promotion. The employee is entitled to receive within grade increases and comparability (cost of living) increases at the retained grade level.

  29. What is pay retention and how long does it last?

    Pay retention comes into play when the two-year grade retention period expires for employees who were changed to a lower grade due to RIF procedures (see Question 21) or when employees are not eligible for grade retention (see Question 27). If an employee whose job was converted to a private sector contractor or to a non-"status quo" MEO had been changed to a lower grade and was unable to find a job at his or her original grade during the two-year grade retention period, then at the end of the two-year grade retention period, he or she is reclassified to the lower grade but is placed on pay retention. The employee is then entitled to retain his/her rate of basic pay earned before the expiration of grade retention. Pay retention continues until the maximum rate for the grade the employee is occupying equals or exceeds the employee's retained pay rate, unless one of the conditions under Title 5, CFR 536.209 is met. Under pay retention, an employee receives the full locality adjustment and only 50 percent of the general pay increase. Thus, each year the gap between the employee's retained pay rate and the rate of pay for the position occupied gets smaller.

    For example: Sam Jones was downgraded from a GS-13 to a GS-11 position. At the end of the two-year grade retention period Sam is reclassified to the GS-11, however his pay is set at his current rate of pay (which exceeds the GS-11, step 10). While in a pay retention status (indicated on his SF-50 as, GS-11 step 00), he will receive 50 percent of the Federal Government's annual pay adjustment. This will cause the pay gap between his rate of pay and the GS-11 step 10 to narrow. Over time Sam's rate of pay will equal the rate of pay for a GS-11 step 10, his pay retention will terminate, and he will be entitled to the government's full annual pay adjustment.

  30. If an employee chooses to take a deferred annuity, is he or she eligible for severance pay?

    If an employee who is not on a time limited appointment has been on the rolls for at least the preceding 12 months prior to separation by RIF (see Question 21) and is not entitled to an immediate retirement annuity as a Federal employee or member of the uniformed services, he or she is eligible for severance pay. Regardless of whether an employee elects retirement, if he or she is entitled to an immediate annuity (Discontinued Service Retirement, Optional Retirement or retired military), an employee is not entitled to severance pay. Specific questions about severance pay should be addressed to the Human Resources.

  31. What effect will the A-76 competition have on employees in term and temporary positions?

    If the government is successful in the A-76 competition, the Most Efficient Organization will determine the number and types of positions retained to accomplish the work. Regardless of the outcome (either government or private sector), any adversely affected term or temporary employees will be afforded "soft landing services" to the extent stipulated in the regulations for those categories of employees. (See Question 19.) If the last resort of a Reduction In Force (RIF) (see Question 21) is necessary, temporary employees do not have assignment rights, term employees have limited assignment rights. See your Human Resources Advisor or Competitive Sourcing Coordinator for further information.

  32. Please provide a milestone schedule showing the steps in the CS process and the expected completion dates.

    The flowchart depicts the steps in the RSPA Headquarters Competitive Sourcing process for the Administrative Services streamlined competition. The flowchart does not contain estimated completion dates. The estimated completion dates for the major events in the process are as follows:

    • April 23, 2004 - Prepare the Requirements Statement
    • April 30, 2004 - Contracting Officer accepts the Requirements Statement
    • May 15, 2004 - Contracting Officer announces the competition in FedBizOpps. Requirements statement is provide to the Agency tender Official. This starts the 90-day clock (OMB requires that a performance decision be made in streamlined competitions within 90 days of the announcement in FedBizOpps).
    • July 15, 2004 - Agency Tender Official submits signed proposal to the Contracting Officer. If a Most Efficient Organization (MEO) is developed it is submitted as part of the proposal.
    • July 15, 2004 - Contracting Officer completes the private sector cost estimate, using documented market research.
    • July 30, 2004 - Contracting Officer evaluates the Agency Tender Official's proposal vs. the private sector cost estimate.
    • August 6, 2004 - Performance decision (in-house vs. private sector) made by Source Selection Authority. This stops the 90-day clock.
    • August 13, 2004 - Contracting Officer publishes performance decision in FedBizOpps.

    If the in-house proposal is selected, then a Letter of Obligation is issued by the Contracting Officer to the in-house team, a transition plan is developed, and the in-house proposal is implemented.

    If the private sector cost estimate is selected, then an Acquisition Strategy is developed and implemented, as well as a transition plan. Once a selection decision is made, a contract is awarded to a private sector firm, and the transition plan (from in-house to private sector) is implemented.

  33. The RSPA Human Capital Plan indicates that Female Black employees are overrepresented in the administrative professional and support occupations. Will White Males, Hispanics, and people with disabilities be requested when a Contractor supplies the administrative support?

    The determination of functions that are commercial, and available for competition, was based on the definitions of "inherently governmental" and "commercial" as stated in OMB Circular A-76. The incumbents performing the functions did not affect the designation. In fact, some of the functions subject to competition are currently vacant. Further, in a few cases, part of the functions performed by a given individual are subject to competition but the rest are not being competed. If a performance decision is made, by the Source Selection Authority (SSA), to convert the functions to the private sector, RSPA will issue a solicitation and award a contract/delivery order to a private sector firm to provide the services. The private contractor is solely responsible for all employee staffing decisions regarding who will provide services under the contract. The contract/delivery order will contain the Right of First Refusal clause which states "The Contractor shall give Government employees who have been or will be adversely affected or separated as a result of award of this contract the right of first refusal for employment openings under the contract in positions for which they are qualified, if that employment is consistent with post-Government employment conflict of interest standards," and the contractor will also be bound by an Equal Opportunity clause which states, in part, "The Contractor shall not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."

  34. May 14 is the anticipated last day to get the Requirement Statement (RS) to the CO according to the official schedule. Will the affected employees get an opportunity to review the draft RS before the final RS is handed to the CO?

    The Requirements Statement is now tentatively scheduled to be provided to the Contracting Officer on May 28, 2004. I will ensure that all affected employees and their supervisors have reviewed the portion of the requirements statement pertaining to the functions that they perform. This will occur prior to the Requirements Statement being submitted to the Contracting Officer. [NOTE: As of June 2, 2004 the planned date for providing the Requirements Statement to the Contracting Officer is June 18, 2004.]
     
  35. I recently read the RSPA Diversity Plan for FY 03-05. I have difficulty understanding CS and achieving the goals outlined in the diversity plan.

    It is important to note that the determination of functions that are commercial, and available for competition, was based on the definitions of "inherently governmental" and "commercial" as stated in OMB Circular A-76. The incumbents performing the functions did not affect the designation. In fact, some of the functions subject to competition are currently vacant. Further, the fact that a position is identified as commercial and suitable for competition does not automatically indicate that any current incumbents will leave the agency - data on many recently run competitions indicate that in the vast majority of cases, the government employees have won.

    That having been said, we recognize that there is a delicate balance to be achieved between the varying goals and initiatives of the agency, particularly when the functions that are defined by outside standards as commercial are also in occupations where we have heretofore successfully attracted more diversity than in other occupations. We will continue to seek to attract and retain diversity in all kinds of positions, most especially where diversity is severely lacking, and we will also seek to run the organization in the most efficient and effective way possible as the best value for the tax payer. The two goals are not mutually exclusive, and neither is more important than the other.

  36. My question is about how RSPA was able to honor the challenge period for affected CS employees. When affected employees were informed on March 8, 2004, that they were incumbent in positions targeted for CS, more than 60 days had elapsed since the January 7, 2004 deadline for appeals to the inventory. Please explain how the rights of the affected employees were upheld in light of the dates major CS actions were accomplished by RSPA in the FAIR Act process.

    In an email from the Deputy Administrator to all RSPA employees dated November 24, 2003, employees were advised that the RSPA FY2003 FAIR Act Inventory had been approved by OMB and was available for public review. At that time a challenge period of 30 working days after publication (November 21, 2003) of OMB's Federal Register notice was available to all employees, and the public to question: (a) the reclassification of an activity as inherently governmental or commercial, or (b) the application of reason codes. Function codes are not subject to the inventory challenge process. No formal challenges were submitted regarding the RSPA inventory. This process complied with OMB Circular A-76.

  37. On the composite DOT CY2002 Commercial and Inherently Governmental FTE Inventory shown on the RSPA web site under Competitive Sourcing, RSPA uses the notation "LE10FTE" and "Core" in column K under "Status" - " Reason Sub." What do "LE10FTE" and "Core" mean? Also under the "Status" block, there is a column denoted "FCT" with notations such as "D100." What does "FCT" stand for and the notations such as "D100?"

    The notation "LE10FTE" means "less than 10 full time equivalents." The term "Core" was used in the 2002 DOT inventory (as directed by OMB), to identify a Commercial function for which a cost comparison was not required to convert from in-house to contract because the decision as to who should perform the work is not primarily a cost-based decision. For functions classified in that manner, in 2002, no A-76 cost comparison was to be conducted. The acronym "FCT" stood for "Function Code" in 2002. For example D100 is a function code which stands for "Regulatory Activities Support" according to OMB Circular A-76.

  38. According to a discussion I had with the BTS CS point-of-contact, BTS took the proposal to create RITA as a new O/A into consideration in compiling its FAIR Act inventory. As a result, BTS coded all "C" commercial activities with an "E" (pending an agency approved restructuring decision) for approximately 150 FTEs in BTS. The passing reference to the RITA proposal in the RSPA CS Plan only provides a vague and unspecific reference to RITA that doesn't provide a satisfactory explanation. Why didn't RSPA take a similar approach to use the RITA proposal for a legitimate delay in the CS/A-76 process until the details on the RSPA/BTS reorganization/ merger into RITA were clearer?

    Neither RSPA or BTS are viewing RITA as an "agency approved restructuring." BTS coded their functions as "E" based on a pending internal reorganization completely separate from RITA. This has been confirmed with the BTS competitive sourcing coordinator and BTS legal.

  39. Please ensure the affected employees in the CS process are officially notified when the start date for the streamline 90 days process occurs.

    I will ensure that all affected employees are notified when the start date for the HQ competition is officially announced in FedBizOpps.

  40. Please provide a web link to FedBizOpps and notification to CS affected employees where the RSPA announcement can be accessed on the day it is published.

    The web site is: www.fedbizopps.gov. When it is announced we will provide a copy directly to all affected employees.

  41. I see numerous references to the MEO and very often the reference includes the statement, "If a Most Efficient Organization (MEO) is developed." Why is this qualifier necessary? Why is the preparation of a MEO spoken to as if was an option? Isn't the MEO as critical as the Requirements Statement and the market research cost estimate? Under what conditions would a MEO not be prepared? What would be the consequence to CS targeted employees if a MEO wasn't prepared?

    The term "Most Efficient Organization" is an official term directly out of the A-76 Circular. It defines an MEO as "The staffing plan of the agency tender, developed to represent the agency's most efficient and cost-effective organization." While the A-76 Circular does not require that an MEO be developed in some kinds of competitions (so agencies will not develop them), for DOT agencies, the MEO is not an option. The recently enacted OMNIBUS funding bill requires all DOT agencies to develop an MEO as part of their competitive sourcing competition process. Pat Burke as the ATO will be forming an MEO Team to assist her in the development of the agency tender. Pat Burke has scheduled a training session for all affected employees on the ATO/MEO process for June 3, 2004.

  42. The revised CS milestone schedule (May 18, 2004) states: May 28, 2004 - Prepare the Requirements Statement June 4, 2004 - CO accepts the Requirements Statement In what state of completion is the Requirements Statement in today? Draft? Shouldn't the May 28th Milestone be "Requirement Statement Preparation -- Completed." Between today and May 28th there are only six work days. Will the CS affected employees be given the opportunity to review a draft RS before May 28th? Between May 28th and June 4th when the RS is given to the CO, there are only three work days. This isn't a reasonably sufficient time for the employees (and the ATO?) to review the RS, if that is planned/allowed.

    The affected employees will be given sufficient time to review the sections of the Requirements Statement that are applicable to their own functions prior to it being provided to the Contracting Officer. The above milestone dates are based on our best estimates at any given point in time. The Requirements Statement is not officially completed until it is officially approved and accepted by the Contracting Officer. There may be some additional revisions needed to the Requirements Statement based on the preliminary review by the Contracting Officer. These milestone dates may be subject to further revisions if additional time is needed to ensure that the requirements statement accurately reflects the functions being performed by the affected employees.

  43. Have the "targeted employees" been apprised of their options if the government wins or not? For example, if the government does not "win" its case through the Competitive Sourcing issue, what happens to a person's retirement monies -- does it carry over to what? And what happens to their other benefits, such as life insurance, health insurance, annual and sick leave totals, etc.?

    Affected employees have been apprised personally of their options should the Government proposal not be selected for award. Scroll down to Questions 10 through 16, and 19 through 30 which address this subject.

  44. Is the Requirements Statement going to be presented to the CO today in accordance with the official CS milestone schedule?

    Answer: Please refer to question 34.

  45. I have heard that employees in certain areas of RSPA that are directly effected by the A76 Out Sourcing situation have been placed in other positions in order to retain their tenure with the Federal Government. As far as I know they are no longer considered one of the targeted employees affected by this situation. Can you confirm rather or not this is true and if so what type of guidance can be given to the managers in my area so I will no longer be affected by this situation.

    One (1) RSPA employee who performs functions subject to the current Competitive Sourcing (CS) competition at Headquarters has been appointed to a new position as a result of completion of the Student Career Experience Program. Such placement occurs if a position is available and is the expected outcome of successful completion of the program.

    Employees who perform functions included in a CS competition retain all of their prerogatives as Federal employees, which include the right to apply and compete for any position for which they are qualified (through experience, training, and/or education). When an employee moves to a new position, the functions he or she previously performed remain part of the CS competition. The position (FTE) is just vacant at the moment. The moving employee is no longer directly affected by the CS competition, however, the FTE is. Turnover is commonplace because of retirements, promotions, geographic moves, and changes in careers or family situations. A vacancy does not affect the status of a function under CS.

    The responsibility of managers for achieving the mission of their offices also is unaffected by CS. That includes the ability to fill vacancies with appropriately qualified candidates. RSPA managers may (and indeed are encouraged to) train and develop staff to assume larger responsibility and select those staff for vacancies for which they are qualified when it is in the interests of the agency mission. Any selection would be subject to rules and regulations appropriate to the circumstances (such as completion of a Co-Op program or selection under merit promotion for a higher graded job or one with more promotion potential).

  46. Since some of the affected Federal Government workers live in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, was Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton notified along with the other Senators and Representatives for the surrounding Metropolitan area, of the Competitive Sourcing procedures RSPA and DOT were undertaking, and apprised as to how their constituents could possibly be targeted?

    Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton's staff (Mr. Christopher Hicks) was notified on March 8, 2004 of the upcoming RSPA HQ A-76 competition, and the fact that constituents in her Congressional district are affected.

  47. In the past when hiring contractors to perform administrative duties, there were limitations on what contractors were able to perform as part of their job duties. Two of the limitations that come to mind, are time cards and visa card usage. Contractors were not allow to input T&A data nor were they allowed to handle gov't credit cards for the office in purchasing items for the office. Is this limitation lifted under the competitive sourcing criteria or is this still a standard regulation that limits them in performing these duties.

    Per the RSPA Human Resources staff, there are no known DOT policies that would prohibit contractor support staff from inputting time and attendance data into the T&A database. Final approval and overall management responsibility of RSPA employee's time cards within each RSPA office however must be performed by government personnel. Contractors are prohibited from being issued purchase cards or from placing orders under purchase cards on behalf of a government card holder. This restriction is not waived in any way by the competitive sourcing process.

  48. I assume there is no prohibition for me to forward official replies on CS questions or any other information included under the CS link to outsiders that appear on the RSPA web site since the information is available to the public. This would also include the media, Congress, and the Federal judiciary. Am I correct?

    The Competitive Sourcing information that has been posted on the RSPA internet web site is publicly available. Note, however, per RSPA policy, when acting in one's official capacity as a RSPA employee, all media and Congressional requests and correspondence must be coordinated with RSPA's Office of Government and Public Affairs (DPP).

  49. What is the official Scope of Services/Work and cost for the BAE, Inc. contract support to RSPA for competitive sourcing?

    The BAE delivery order statement of work is to provide technical support services on behalf of the 2004 RSPA HQ competitive sourcing competition. The contractor will provide support to the RSPA Agency Tender Official (ATO) in developing a most efficient organization (MEO) and the agency tender. Support is also being provided to the Requirements Statement (RS) Team Leader in developing the RS document. The value of the BAE delivery order is $70,000.

  50. These dates were on the RSPA web page: November 21, 2003 - Federal Register notice published December 2003 - OMB approves 2003 RSPA FAIR Act inventory January 7, 2004 - Last day to appear FAIR Act 2003 inventory February 18, 2004 - OST approves RSPA FY 2004 Competitive Sourcing Plan and Inventory March 8, 2004 - RSPA notifies employees to be affected by CS process Since the RSPA employees were not informed until after the appeal date had passed and after OST had approved the RSPA FY 2004 Competitive Sourcing Plan and Inventory, that really does not seem to be fair to any of the targeted employees. Their voices were not allowed to be heard. Were the Congressional Representatives (Senators and Congresspersons) for Maryland, D.C., and Virginia notified of this fact? Are the Congressional Representatives also being apprised of the milestone dates for the HQ A-76 competition (May 28, June 4, June 18, Aug. 19, Sept. 5, Sept. 12, and Sept. 19)?

    Please note that the challenge period relates to whether a position is commercial or inherently governmental, not to whether or not a commercial position is to be competed at a particular time. It is now recognized that communications to employees regarding the 2003 inventory process could have been much better. For 2004 all managers and supervisors have been directed to share with their employees the classification of functions performed by employees and all supporting documentation in the proposed 2004 FAIR Act inventory. Members of Congress representing districts and states where affected employee live were notified to inform them that RSPA was starting a process for an A-76 competition and that constituents in the district/state may be affected. The FY03 inventory has been made available to the public and to Congress as required by A-76. Following DOT and OMB final approvals, the FY04 inventory will also be made available to the pubic and Congress. The milestone dates (are updated periodically) are available on the RSPA competitive sourcing website and to the general public.

  51. I read the official answer to question 36 but the answer prompts me to ask: Any affected employee who reacted to the Deputy Administrator's email notice on November 23, 2004, wouldn't have been able to tell from the generic function descriptions that they were an incumbent in a position targeted for CS. Between November 24, 2003 and March 8, 2004, the affected CS employees were unaware of potential effect to them from CS. No appeals could be made after January 7, 2004 and this fact wasn't made known to affected employee until the Competitive Sourcing link was made available on March 8, 2004 nor did RSPA attempt to make a good faith effort to keep employees informed about the CS process and the potential effect it could have on their positions. Please explain.

    The Administrator's email notice of November 24, 2004 contained a link to the DOT competitive sourcing website. This site contained links to "CY03 FAIR Act Inventory Challenge Period" and "Challenge and Appeal Process". Please note that the challenge period relates to whether a position is commercial or inherently governmental, not to whether or not a commercial position is to be competed at a particular time. It is now recognized that communications to employees regarding the 2003 inventory process could have been much better. For 2004 all managers and supervisors have been directed to share with their employees the classification of functions performed by employees and all supporting documentation in the proposed 2004 FAIR Act inventory.

  52. Relating to the A-76 Circular states on page A-4:"2. Submission of an Inventory Challenge." Did RSPA follow the letter or spirit of this provision? I don't think it did. Your reference to when (time) a Commercial position is competed isn't the issue. The manner in which RSPA handle the A-76/ FAIR Act in this present round is abysmal and I feel I know who is responsible and should be held accountable. They should have the integrity to admit the error and cancel this faulted competition.

    Please refer to questions #'s 36, 51 and 52.

  53. What is the BAE work order performance period? The affected employees were first informed that a RS and a MEO would need to be developed on March 8, 2004. What is the source of funding?

    The period of performance for the RSPA HQ competitive sourcing competition support services delivery order is April 8, 2004 to September 30, 2004. Funding for the delivery order is being provided by the Offices of: Pipeline Safety, Hazardous Materials Safety, and Administration.

  54. In the May 29, 2003, OMB Circular A-76 (Revised), Attachment B, Section (A)(8)(e) on page B-3, it specifies the SSA "be independent of the ATO, HRA, and the MEO team." The RSPA SSA (Ed Brigham) supervises the HRA and some of the MEO team. And he supervises the CO and staff who are responsible for the contract with the MEO support firm. Is this allowed in view of the A-76 specification in letter and spirit?

    The phrase "be independent of the ATO, HRA, and the MEO team" means that the SSA cannot be the ATO or the HRA or be a member of the MEO team - in other words, the SSA cannot participate in putting together and making decisions regarding the formulation of the agency's tender, and then make a decision on whether to accept it or not. For that purpose RSPA has established a firewall that will go into effect once the competition is formally announced at www.FedBizOpps.gov. At that time, the ATO, HRA, and MEO team members will act independently, and in private, from the SSA in preparing a proposal for submission to the Contracting Officer. The ATO, HRA, and MEO team members will be fire-walled from the SSA and instructed not to share any information, regarding the proposal they are preparing, with the SSA. In addition, the ATO, CO, CSC, HRA, SSA and MEO team members will be required to sign non disclosure statements.

  55. I recall at the initial CS meeting on March 8, 2004, it was announced that the CS web link was available on the RSPA web site. Was March 8, 2004, the first day the RSPA CS web link was made available with pertinent information on the CS process?

    The RSPA competitive sourcing website went live on March 18, 2004.

  56. At the May 27 CS meeting, Linda Rhoads said regulations covering early out/buy out authority in connection with the FAIR Act/A-76 CS process specifically require that the CS process must be followed to the end before any authority can be requested or granted and that pre-approved authority for early outs/buy-outs can't be done. What is the source citation and text of this regulation?

    The OPM regulations do not specifically reference competitive sourcing. 5 CFR 831.114(c)(2)(v) (CSRS) and 5CFR 842.213(c)(2)(v) (FERS) require that agency requests for early retirement authority contain (among other things) "The total number of non-temporary employees in the agency who will be involuntarily separated or downgraded because of reduction in force or relocation during a major reduction in force, major reorganization, or major transfer of function". This determination cannot be made until decisions regarding the outcome of the competition are made.

    Section 663 of PL 104-208, the law granting authority for Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (buyouts) , requires agencies to submit a strategic plan that indicates:

    (A) the positions and functions to be reduced or eliminated, identified by organizational unit, geographic location, occupational category and grade level;

    (B) the number and amounts of voluntary separation incentive payments to be offered; and

    (C) a description of how the agency will operate without the eliminated positions and functions.

    Parts A and C of this requirement cannot be determined until a decision is made on the outcome of a competitive sourcing competition.

  57. It appears from the FY 2003 inventory for HQ, 13.7 FTEs (coded C-B) first appeared on the inventory in 2001. Only one Regulatory Activities Support FTE was added on the 2003 inventory bringing the number to 14.7 FTEs.

    1. What happened between when the FY 2001 inventory was completed and November 24, 2003?

    There weren't any notifications issued that the FY 2001 inventory was complete. Each fiscal year, RSPA's Associate Administrators/Office Directors review the functions being performed in their offices and determine if the activities are Commercial or Inherently Governmental. This "coding" has been performed throughout the Government for many years.

    Each year RSPA developed the Inventory in accordance with the version of OMB Circular A-76 that was in effect at the time. The latest revision to OMB Circular A-76 was published on May 29, 2003. The public availability of DOT's FY2002 inventory was announced in the Federal Register on 2/6/03 and FY2001 on 1/3/02.

    The DOT FAIR Act Inventory, of which RSPA is a part, is published each year on the DOT web site. 

    After OMB review and consultation, an agency is required by OMB Circular A-76 dated May 29, 2003, to make its inventory available to Congress and the public. RSPA has complied with that requirement. In addition OMB, as required, published a notice of availability of agencies' inventories in the Federal Register. There is no requirement to directly notify employees.

    2. What happened in FY 2002 in the CS process?

    RSPA did not conduct any competitions in FY 2002. During FY 2002 all Government departments/agencies developed their annual FAIR Act inventories in accordance with the FAIR Act, OMB Circular A-76, and guidance from OMB. Based on the FY 2002 inventory, RSPA management decided to study, in FY 2003, a number of commercial functions at the Volpe Center.

    3. The way the Deputy Administrator's November 24, 2003, email linked to the inventory was deceptive in the way in which it took readers directly to the inventory and not to the top of the link. It should have started the reader at the top of the page that contained critical information under the headings:

    • FY 03 FAIR Act Inventory Challenge Period
    • List of CY 03 Function Codes
    • Reason Codes and Definitions for Commercial
    • Activities Inventory
    • DOT FAIR Act Inventory - CY00-CY 03 (Final Inventory)
    • List of Points of Contact within DOT
    • Challenge and Appeal Process
    • Address for Challenges
    • Address for Appeals
    • FAIR Act and Circular A-76 OMB Web Site
    • A-76 Resources

    There was no mention of this critical information in the November 24, 2003, email as part of the link. Please let us know why this important information was not specifically pointed out or referenced knowing how critical it is. Without an explanation, I'm suspicious there was a desire to say as little as possible to assist the employees you knew were going to be affected by CS.

    At the time, it was determined that the easiest navigation to the inventory, was to provide a link directly to the inventory. In addition, the Deputy Administrator's e-mail to all employees stated, in part, "Of the Commercial functions, 88.1 FTE were submitted with reason code B - which means they are suitable for competition. If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact Keith O'Neill at 202.366.4429." Although encouraged to contact Keith O'Neill (RSPA's Competitive Sourcing Coordinator at that time) with any questions, no employees availed themselves of that opportunity.

    RSPA made the inventory available to Congress and the public as required by OMB Circular A-76. There is no requirement to directly notify employees.

  58. I only found this morning from Pat Burke that (name) was excused from the CS process. Please tell me why this was done.

    The Deputy Administrator, in his role as RSPA's Competitive Sourcing Official (CSO), made a management decision that functions performed by employees in formal student programs (what we have traditionally called Co-Op and Stay-in-School program participants) should not be part of a Competitive Sourcing competition. The functions were removed from the competition because including them would be contrary to the Department's goal of developing a pipeline for future permanent DOT employees.

  59. In the event the CS process outcome allows buy outs, is RSPA in a financial position to afford any buy outs as might be required to pay entitled CS employees the requisite sums from FY04 and/or FY05 funds?

    Yes, RSPA is in a financial position to fund buyouts that might be offered and approved as a result of competitive sourcing.

  60. Please explain how the RSPA HQ reorganization under the Mineta Bill will affect the MEO/AMS since six positions in the RSPA MEO/AMS are positions that are slated to support DPS and DHM and the AMS is to be organized under DMA's Office of Administration. Please be very specific by explaining how the MEO/AMS will or will not be affected.

    The implementation of the MEO is not affected by the new RSPA reorganization law. PHMSA is required to complete the implementation of the MEO when it succeeds RSPA.

  61. Who will take care of time and attendance?

    AMS/MEO Staff will complete a time and attendance worksheet and submit to their respective functional lead. The lead will review and submit to AMS/MEO Manager. As the supervisor, the AMS Manager will approve.

  62. Who pays for training?

    The staff currently recruited for AMS/MEO positions should require little to no training outside that needed to address the nuances of working for DOT/PHMSA. Any training required by an AMS employee will be paid for by the office receiving the support of that employee.

  63. Who pays for/provides AMS/MEO staff supplies and equipment?

    The office receiving the support of that AMS/MEO employee.

  64. Who makes the final decision concerning staff selection?

    The AMS/MEO Manager makes the final decision; however, it will be weighted heavily on the input of the Functional Lead.

  65. Who approves leave?

    The AMS/MEO Manager approves leave; however, it will be approved after consideration of workload/mission as described by the Functional Lead.

  66. How are salaries covered?

    The salaries of MEO/AMS employees are reflected in the budgets of the offices for which they provide support. The salary of the MEO/AMS Manager is reflected in the budget of PHA.

  67. Will the Administrative and Management Support (AMS) office have its own budget, accounting string, routing symbol, etc? If so, what budget requirements are to be met with the funding afforded? What accounting string has been assigned? What's the routing symbol?

    The routing symbol for the AMS is "PHA-12." The AMS will not have its own budget or accounting string.

  68. If it is determined that an employee in the AMS should be given an award, which office funds it?

    Awards are paid from the same allocation as the employee's salary. However, no award would be approved for an MEO employee without the input and concurrence of the office receiving support.

Updated: Wednesday, June 28, 2017