Washington The Army is considering contracting out nearly 214,000 military and civilian support jobs to the private sector in an ambitious plan to free money to fight terrorism and comply with President Bush's desire to trim the federal government through outsourcing.
Army Secretary Thomas E. White has directed his commanders to submit plans by Dec. 20 to privatize or outsource all functions not essential to fighting wars. If approved, the unprecedented government overhaul could begin this spring and affect two-thirds of the Army civilian work force. Military personnel would be reassigned.
"The Army must focus its energies and talents on our core competencies functions we perform better than anybody else ... and obtain other needed products or services from the private sector where it makes sense," White said in an Oct. 4 memo.
Targeted are 154,910 civilian workers and 58,727 military personnel that perform support functions such as financial, legal, communications and maintenance.
"We must transfer highly trained military personnel back into positions where their military competencies can be best used," said John Anderson, Army assistant deputy assistant secretary for manpower management. "The president, the Congress and the public require sound stewardship of the full mix of personnel resources, whether by military, civilian or contract."
Some functions could be contracted out to private companies in a bid process, while other functions might be eliminated altogether and moved to the private sector. Some jobs also could remain in the government.
Congress would have to approve some of the proposed changes.
Overall, about 850,000 federal government jobs have been identified as commercial meaning they also are performed in the private sector and are not limited to functions of government. President Bush has called for half of those jobs to be opened up to competition in the private sector.