NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Competitive Bids for Federal Jobs

September 9, 2003

President Bush has proposed opening hundreds of thousands of jobs in the federal work force to private-sector competition. One agency that has made a modest beginning in this effort is the Federal Aviation Administration, which is allowing private companies to run Air Traffic Control operations at a number of small airports. But the ATC union is opposed, and is trying to get Congress to kill the plan.

  • The FAA's Contract Towers Program allows private (FAA-certified) controllers to man more than 200 smaller airport towers.
  • So far the program has saved taxpayers an estimated $54 million a year, or about $900,000 per tower.
  • The Contract Towers safety records are four times better than similar FAA-staffed towers, according to a Department of Transportation Inspector General's report.
  • As it happens, federal workers who already do the job win a competitively bid contract six out of 10 times.
  • But even when federal workers keep the contract, the government saves an average of 20 percent, according to a study by the General Accounting Office and the Center for Naval Analysis.

Earlier this year, for example, the White House opened Bush's annual budget document for bid; the Government Printing Office still won the contract but at a price 25 percent lower than the $500,000 GPO had originally estimated.

Source: Editorial, "Union Libel," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106306662243356500,00.html


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