The federal floodgates should open later this year when government agencies begin bidding out at least 40,000 previously in-house jobs. In March, President Bush directed federal agencies to give private companies the opportunity to compete for at least 5 percent of all commercial jobs being performed by federal employees.
The 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act requires all federal agencies to list any "inherently commercial" jobs currently done by federal employees. For 2000, 115 agencies listed about 850,000 such jobs. (For a list of agencies' Web sites, go to: www.govexec.com/outsourcing and look under "The FAIR Act Report.") At press time, it was impossible to know, but available jobs will likely be heavy with computer and information-processing services, custodial and delivery jobs, and jobs involved with federal procurement.
Small-business groups applauded OSHA's decision to hold workshops around the country in July to get public input on its next step on ergonomics. Randel Johnson, vice president of labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says he expects a "fair and balanced" approach from Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Last March, Congress passed a resolution canceling the ergonomics rule finalized by the Clinton administration.
The SBA has developed a database of the 3,000 certified HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) companies to help federal contracting officers find them online. If you're a HUBZone business, check to see if you're on the list at www.sba.gov/hubzone.
Stephen Barlas is a freelance business reporter who covers the Washington beat for 15 magazines.