New Executive Order Seeks to Reduce Worker Turnover on Service Contracts
President Biden issued an executive order on Thursday, November 18, with the intent to reduce worker turnover on service contracts with the government. This order is not entirely new, as something similar was in effect during the Obama administration, but then revoked under the Trump administration. According to a fact sheet provided by the white house, there are about 2 million service contract workers providing important federal functions. These jobs range from maintenance on military bases to call centers to transportation to research and development.
The fact sheet states that “the executive order extends the right of first refusal to qualified workers when a service contract changes hands and the jobs on the new contract are similar,” as turnover can be timely and costly. “Taxpayer-funded services [will] benefit from an experienced workforce that is already familiar with federal facilities, personnel and other requirements of the job” and this order will “provide firms that secure new federal contracts with a ready, skilled pool of workers.”
The fact sheet continued, “this executive order will also remove the requirement that the new contract remain in the same location for the job continuity policy to take effect. This change in policy updates the administration’s approach to account for the flexible nature of service sector work in today’s economy.”
The executive order also directs the department of Labor to issue final regulations within 180 days and then within 60 days of that the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council must amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation so that this can be included in contracts and the solicitations. The executive order will also “apply to solicitations issued on or after the effective date of the final regulations issued by the FAR Council.” For the solicitations that are already issued, federal agencies are being encouraged to apply the provisions.
Unfortunately, the executive order does not apply to contracts under the simplified acquisition threshold. “These are contracts that are capped at $250,000, but can go higher for certain items, as well as employees hired to work on a federal service contract and at least one non-federal service contract as part of a single job “provided that the employees were not deployed in a manner that was designed to avoid the purposes of this order,” said the executive order. It also outlines how senior agency officials can make exceptions to this policy as well as authorizes the Labor secretary to investigate potential violations.” (Buble 21)
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers, which has almost 40,000 service contract workers, was especially thankful for the order. Robert Martinez Jr., association president, praised the president stating, “President Biden is a champion for working families and continues to put them at the top of his agenda, thousands of [International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers] members and other service contract workers can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their jobs won’t be displaced when government service contracts change hands from one employer to another.”
By: Beth Gray