Proposed bill would ban some gov't outsourcing

FRAMINGHAM (02/20/2004) - A bill proposed by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) would prohibit taxpayer money from being used for outsourcing some forms of government work now being done in the U.S.

In an announcement earlier this week, Dodd said his proposed United States Workers Protection Act would focus on the outsourcing of federal work, federal procurement of goods and services and state government procurement when federal funds are used. Under the bill, state governments wouldn't be eligible to receive federal funds unless they certify each year that the money for the services won't go offshore.

In a statement, Dodd said the measure comes in response to Bush administration policies, which he said wrongly conclude that sending U.S. jobs overseas will benefit the country's ailing economy.

Last week, Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, argued in testimony before the Senate's Joint Economic Committee that outsourcing helps the U.S. to be more productive. The White House's top economic adviser compared service-sector offshore outsourcing to manufacturing and said they both produce economic gains.

A summary of Dodd's bill, Senate Bill 2094, says that an existing one-year restriction prohibiting private companies from using offshore labor when bidding for government contract work would become permanent. The restriction is set to expire Sept. 30.

The bill would also stop federal agencies from awarding procurement contracts to companies that use overseas workers either on their own payroll or through foreign subcontractors, though there would be a presidential waiver for such occurrences on national security grounds.

"This is a huge issue in Connecticut and nationwide" because a continuing loss of American jobs to foreign countries is at stake, said Dodd spokeswoman Ryan McGinn.

Last week, Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would require companies to publicly disclose when they intend to move jobs offshore. That proposed legislation, from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), came after Mankiw's comments.

Daschle's bill would require any company that plans to lay off 15 or more workers and send those jobs overseas to disclose how many jobs are affected, where the jobs are going and why the action is being taken.

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