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Bush Hails Military Outsourcing

November 25, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Monday praised an Air Force base with a history of outsourcing work to the private sector, something he wants to do with nearly half the nation’s federal civilian jobs.

Bush saluted Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where he stopped during his zigzagging odyssey back to Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

The president addressed federal managers at an awards ceremony 11 days after the White House unveiled a plan to let private companies compete for federal jobs. He spoke at the 2003 President’s Quality Award Program, which recognizes excellence in the public sector.

The administration has identified 850,000 federal jobs _ nearly half of the government’s civilian work force of 1.8 million _ that it says could be performed by the private sector.

Bush made no mention of the proposal Monday.

But he went out of his way to praise the 55th Wing at Offutt for ``recognizing that outsourcing is an important part of efficiency in our government.″

``They identified the best and most cost-effective approaches for hundreds of different tasks on the base,″ Bush said. ``They worked closely with contractors, opened the process to employee feedback and concerns and have saved our taxpayers millions of dollars.″

The other two winners were the National Imagery and Mapping Agency in Bethesda, Md., and the FAA Logistics Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Though he is looking to shed nearly 1 million federal jobs, Bush noted how hard it is to attract and retain federal workers, singling out the mapping agency for its efforts on that front.

``It’s hard to keep a work force in the government,″ Bush said. ``It’s a lot of competition for good and skilled federal workers.″

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