Forest Service Fires Up Outsourcing Studies
The U.S. Forest Service is initiating studies for contracting out its entire law enforcement, budgetary and human resources staff, as well as significant portions of its environmental, fire control and timber sale workforce, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The documents obtained by PEER show that the Forest Service is planning to look at replacing more than 10,000 of its approximately 44,000 person workforce with privately contracted employees by the end of FY 2007.
“Under this corporate quota plan, our national forests could be placed under operational control of timber companies best poised to low bid the jobs that are supposed to oversee their activities,” said Jeff Ruch, PEER executive director. “These schemes appear designed to produce a Georgia-Pacific National Forest patrolled by private rent-a-rangers.”
The studies are part of the Bush administration’s plan to review the potential for outsourcing as many as 850,000 federal jobs across the government.
PEER reports that the Forest Service plans to commission studies in fiscal year 2004 for all 650 of its law enforcement positions, 300 natural resource monitoring and data collection jobs, and 150 positions from its national fire center in Boise, Idaho.
The agency will study outsourcing of its entire 2,000 person financial management staff in fiscal year 2005, along with all 900 human resources positions.
In fiscal 2006, the agency plans to examine outsourcing between 5,000 and 10,000 fire fighters with private contractors.
Conservationists are also concerned about a mandate for the Park Service to study 1,700 jobs by next year.
“This massive contracting program is debilitating agencies, demolishing employee morale and convincing thousands that a future career in federal service is a bureaucratic crap shoot,” said Ruch.
There are signs that Congress is not as enthusiastic about outsourcing as the administration. The Republican controlled Appropriations Committee in the House reported out an Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would block further “competitive sourcing” in the Forest Service as well as in the Park Service and other Interior agencies.
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.