TSA Contracts Agency HR Office – To the State of California?

The Transportation Security Administration awards two new contracts to run the HR function for the agency–one to a California state agency and one to a New York firm.

What do most people remember about the initiative to reinvent government under the Clinton administration? Perhaps the press conference called to dump the Federal Personnel Manual outside the OPM offices on E Street in Washington. Most federal HR officials scoffed knowing that they still had to administer the HR system under title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations-the guts of the FPM. In other words, it was a good show but didn’t change very much. Still, people assigned to the project continually talked about “thinking outside the box” in trying to make their mark on changing how the federal government works.

For real change, it took a Republican administration. When former California governor Ronald Reagan became president, he wanted to shift power and money to the states. It probably never occurred to him to have a state government run what may be the largest HR office in the federal government. He wasn’t thinking outside the box.

While you may be thinking this author has been smoking pot in Haight Ashbury while listening to the Mamas and Papas crooning “California Dreamin'” in the background, check out the link on the side of this article. It is an official government document announcing the award of $554 million to CPS Human Resource Services, a State of California government agency.

This contract could lead to real reinvention of the federal government. We can assume the State of California has different rules and regulations than the Federal Government so they may not be too worried about how the current system works.

But the big contract is actually for recruiting and hiring of new federal employees for the Transportation Security Administration-not all of the HR administrative function.

The other daily HR administrative functions will be performed by a New York firm, Accenture. That contract is for $214 million over five years.

Running a human resources office for a federal agency has traditionally been done by federal employees. While there has been a trend to contract out some functions during the past few years, this may be the first time an entire HR office will be run by a private (or at least non-federal) organization.

And, for those readers who follow these things, you may be thinking, “what about the union issue?” Since TSA has just announced that it will not allow federal employee unions to represent all those baggage screeners, the new contractor may have an interesting legal wrangle staring it in the face.

We don’t know how the new contractors will organize their offices to run the TSA human resources function. But retired HR officials, especially those with a strong labor law background interested in keeping TSA a union-free environment, may want to think about forwarding your resume to the newest and largest HR offices in government (with main offices in California and New York).

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47