Executive Orders Reverse Course, Raise Interesting Questions

Three executive orders issued by President Barack Obama include provisions that could lead to some interesting outcomes for federal contractors.

The orders reverse Bush administration initiatives that Democrats consider inimical to labor unions. But some observers believe they now will hamper contractors will new requirements.

From a New York Times piece:

"The orders he signed, which union officials say will undo Bush administration policies that tilted toward employers, would require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and would make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage union activities."

Kausfiles.com, at Slate, had this to say:

"Obama has issued a late Friday executive order requiring that when a government service contract expires--and there's a new contract to perform the same services at the same location--the new contractor has to keep the old workers. Why?"

"'The Federal Government's procurement interests in economy and efficiency are served when the successor contractor hires the predecessor's employees. A carryover work force reduces disruption to the delivery of services during the period of transition between contractors and provides the Federal Government the benefits of an experienced and trained work force that is familiar with the Federal Government's personnel, facilities, and requirements.'

"But what if the contract got switched because the previous work force, you know, sucked?"

In a brief analysis, folks at the Venable law firm summarized the executive orders:

"-- The Non Displacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts Executive Order requires government contractors to offer jobs to the qualified employees of the predecessor contractor when a government contract changes hands.

"-- The Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws Executive Order reverses an Executive Order signed by President Bush requiring employers to post signs informing workers of their rights to limit financial support of unions serving as their collective bargaining representatives.

"-- The Economy in Government Contracting Executive Order prohibits government contractors from being reimbursed for expenses incurred when seeking to inform or influence workers regarding whether to form unions or engage in collective bargaining."

Venable, which has been involved in earlier "litigation and lobbying" efforts on behalf of contractors over these rules, efforts that date to the end of the Clinton administration, said this:

"While it is not possible to forecast the contracting community's response, it is likely that the Orders regarding the forced hire of predecessor employees and restrictions regarding the disbursement of funds relating to employer campaigns will give rise to preemptive litigation or lobbying efforts."

By Robert O'Harrow |  February 3, 2009; 12:32 PM ET Contract workers
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In the majority of cases, Federal Contractors already do hire the incumbent workforce, with input from the Federal customer. In some cases, the incumbent employees have overwhelming leverage if they know that the Federal customer wants to keep them, often extracting sign-on bonuses and salary increases. Some agencies have retained the same contractor employees for over 20 years, some have out of date skills or low motivation and may have "gone native", that is, have greater loyalty to the agency than the contractor's firm (while some Federal customers think that is a good thing, in truth such employees ignore management direction and manipulate the customer). This is unnecessary EO which will exacerbate the problem--sometimes you do need to "clean house" and get new blood.

Posted by: rubyslipperstwo | February 3, 2009 3:55 PM

As a Lean Six Sigma BlackBelt it has been my experience that there are rarely employees who are lazy or do not follow rules because they have "gone native," requiring a clean sweep when bringing in a new contractor. What is far more common are employees who are hobbled and restricted by poor policies and processes from the previous organization, and they can tell you exactly how to change those restrictions so that they can deliver more value to the customer, if only they are allowed to implement the changes. I see this so often in my projects, that I can almost copy and paste the business case from one project to the next. Penny wise and pound stupid would be an apt description of policies implemented by many contractors at the headquarters level that they believe will protect their bottom line, but in reality only cost them, their employees, and the government untold wasted resources and frustration.

Posted by: vincentcstamper1 | February 4, 2009 12:01 PM

And this is the Constitutional Republic guaranteed to the States when they signed the Constitution in the late 1700's???

EO and that form of law....how European

Adminstrative law....pitches the checks and balances and creates Executive domination...how European..

and this is "change"??????

Cheney will soon appear to be an amatuer when it comes to WHouse power moves...

Wielding the club of the Government..how bipartisan...

PS do some research on EO 11049 Nixons groundwork for martial law....

Posted by: ChrisBieber | February 6, 2009 10:54 AM

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