Environmental Factor, August 2005, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
A-76: What is it?
By Colleen Chandler
The A-76 program, as it is commonly called, refers to the competitive sourcing activities outlined in the President's Management Agenda, Competitive Sourcing Initiative. One of the goals of the program is to outsource activities to the private sector when it is more economical to do so, according to the NIH A-76 web site.
The process begins with the Office of Management and Budget, which reviews activities and determines which ones can be provided by commercial sources. The OMB list is forwarded to Congress for additional reviews and public comment.
NIH 2003 and 2004 competitions included visual and medical arts, logistics-supply warehouse, clinical center materials management, NIEHS logistics, freight forwarding, information technology help desk operations, information technology telecommunications and extramural activity support.
Most of these activities were kept in-house. Areas under study so far to date in 2005 include: administrative support to environmental security, website development and maintenance, training functions, patient care unit clerks, library technicians and medical/dental equipment repairs.
So far, NIEHS officials said, only two studies of the 2005 activities have been completed.
The term 'streamlined' typically applies when the function is performed by no more than 65 people. In most cases, a comparison is made without a formal competitive acquisition to determine whether or not the service could be provided commercially at a lower cost than in-house. That process allows the government agency to revise, or streamline, its operation to reduce cost. A standard review involves the release of a statement of work and solicitation of bids from private enterprise and the government agency. In a standard review, the lowest bidder is selected to provide the service if the bid is 10 percent or $10 million less than the government bid.