It's interesting what you can find using "the Google." When the stories about the conditions at Walter Reed came out, the privatization
March 4, 2007

It's interesting what you can find using "the Google." When the stories about the conditions at Walter Reed came out, the privatization angle didn't surprise me, other than I didn't recall hearing about it earlier. But let's face it, there's so much news coming out of Washington, things like that have a tendency to fall through the cracks.

However, I did find this press release by Sen. Barbara Mikulski from September of last year that shows that Democrats were concerned about the privatization of Walter Reed and were brushed aside by the DoD and the Army. Remind me again, who is supporting our troops?

In a letter today, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) joined several of her Senate colleagues, including Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), to urge Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Ranking Member Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) to preserve language in the House Defense Appropriations bill that prohibits the U.S. Army from outsourcing 350 federal jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A similar provision, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes, was defeated by a close 50-48 vote, during the bill's consideration in the Senate last week.

"Our federal employees are on the front lines every day, working hard for America. These hardworking men and women deserve to be treated fairly and, at the very least, deserve to have the same rights that contractors do," said Senator Mikulski. "I will keep fighting to fix the competition process that is shamefully slanted in favor of private contractors."

The Walter Reed employees are scheduled to lose their jobs as a result of an outsourcing contract at the Medical Center. The House Defense Appropriations bill includes language that blocks the privatization on the grounds that the bidding process - known as an A-76 privatization review - was unfairly slanted against federal contractors. The contracting out review process not only took more than six years and $7 million to complete, but would cost taxpayers another $5 million to implement. In August, Senator Mikulski organized her colleagues to urge Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey to refrain from moving forward with the outsourcing, scheduled for the end of August, until Congress finished its consideration of the DOD spending bill. The Senate effort was successful, and the Secretary has postponed the move until after Congress completes its work. [..]

"I am not opposed to privatization, but if it occurs with federal jobs then it must be legal and fair. If this privatization effort really saved money, I would support it. But because it is so flawed and so unfair, I am duty-bound to oppose it," said Senator Mikulski. "This competition has wasted taxpayer money and is unfair to federal employees. It doesn't do justice to our heroes at Walter Reed."

Initially, federal employees at Walter Reed won the $120 million contract in 2004. However, the Army's privatization process and review were so lengthy in violation of the time allowed by law, and so costly, that the Army itself tried to cancel the privatization effort, but DOD officials refused its request. Earlier this year, over the objections of Walter Reed's Deputy Garrison Commander, the Army reversed its earlier decision for the employees and awarded the work to a contractor.

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