Employees of federal hatcheries located in Michigan
were reportedly worried early this year about a Bush Administration plan to
"competitively source" the work they do in the Great Lakes State. Competitive
sourcing requires certain bureaucracies or federal agencies to compete with
private-sector rivals through the bidding process for the right to provide
The "President’s Management Agenda" was introduced in
the summer of 2001 and included proposals to use competition between government
agencies and the private sector to improve the cost-effectiveness of services
being provided to the public.
In late July of
this year, the administration issued an update on its previous report about the
results of Pres. Bush’s competitive sourcing initiatives. The report stated that
in fiscal year 2004 agencies underwent 217 competitions involving 12,500 federal
job positions that are expected to save taxpayers about $1.4 billion over three
to five years. The report also argued that an increase in fiscal 2004 savings is
largely attributable to competitions between larger bureaucracies and
private-sector rivals, and a better, more frequent use of a management process
that enables the agencies and businesses to compete on a more level playing
According to the
administration’s report it is competition that is the main driver of savings.
The authors found that if two or more bids were submitted by the private sector
to perform a service, savings of more than $30,000 per full-time federal
employee might be derived. By contrast, if no bids were submitted but the public
agency undertook a reform of its own practices to operate more efficiently, only
$18,000 in estimated savings per FTE was found.
that had been considered for competitive sourcing were here in Michigan and were
part of the federally owned and operated fish hatchery system. There are 70
national hatcheries with operations that may be competitively sourced, three of
which are located in Michigan: the Jordan River operation in Otsego County, and
the Sullivan hatchery and the Pendills Creek hatchery in Chippewa County.
Those involving animal husbandry were at one time up
for competitive sourcing but the Bush Administration has since withdrawn these
positions from the prospective outsourcing. Some administrative and maintenance
positions may still be put up for bid.
Not everyone is thrilled with the competitive
sourcing policies of the Bush Administration. In 2003, Paul Light of New York
University and the Brookings Institution testified before the U.S. Senate and
reported that competitions may "never be more than a minor lever in allocating
headcount constraints more systematically." Light considers competitive sourcing
to be a "blunt instrument" and suggests as an alternative a more
"performance-centered system" that would allow government bureaucracies to
"achieve the effects of competition more naturally."
In 2002 Michigan Privatization Report recommended in
its article, "Legislators Should Spawn Hatchery Privatization," that some type
of privatization occur for state-owned and run hatcheries, noting that private
companies were capable of doing the same work, and for less. The hatchery
privatization article can be accessed at