In Some Cases, Statutory Challenges Hamper Use of Shared Services Authority

In Some Cases, Statutory Challenges Hamper Use of Shared Services Authority

While the new authority allowing installations to negotiate intergovernmental support agreements (IGSAs) with local and state governments has generated significant benefits since 2013, Congress may need to update the statute to eliminate several difficulties the military services have encountered while attempting to take advantage of it. In two cases, the statutory term limit on IGSAs — which was originally five years but now is 10 years — thwarted an installation from reaching an agreement with its host community to construct a joint use firing range, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The local governments planned to fund construction costs with municipal bonds with repayment periods that exceeded the IGSA limit, preventing officials at Buckley AFB, Colo., and Fairchild AFB, Wash., from signing a deal covering the entire term of the municipalities’ repayment period.

Two Army posts — Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. — opted not to use IGSAs for grounds maintenance due to concerns over the statute’s prohibition on using the agreements to circumvent the requirements of the A-76 process for conducting competitions between agency civilians and the private sector. The A-76 process, named for the Office of Management and Budget circular which defines how the competitions are performed, requires a public-private competition to be conducted to determine if government personnel should perform commercial activities required by an agency. In addition, an existing federal statute bars DOD from contracting out a function performed by civilian workers unless it is based on a public-private competition. DOD, however, is prevented from conducting such competitions.

Because temporary civilian employees has been performing grounds maintenance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Army did not approved the installation’s proposed IGSA, which was projected to save $1 million annually, according to GAO. In the case of Fort Leonard Wood, which had been using military personnel for grounds maintenance because it had unfilled civilian positions, installation officials decided against submitting an IGSA proposal because they did not think it would be approved.

In response to the Army’s concerns, DOD officials included language in a May 2018 memo stating the prohibition on conducting A-76 competitions does not preclude the use of an IGSA as long as is not used to circumvent A-76 requirements.

GAO identified several non-statutory challenges to the use of IGSAs as well, including the length of time to review and approve the agreements, and the lack of a financial incentive to take advantage of the new authority in cases in which an installation isn’t allowed to retain any realized cost savings.

Army photo by Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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