Army abandons plans to privatize a portion of its public affairs posts

WASHINGTON: The Army has abandoned plans to outsource nearly one in six of its jobs to the private sector, a move that could have resulted in the loss of thousands of public affairs positions worldwide and a windfall of contracts for private PR firms.

WASHINGTON: The Army has abandoned plans to outsource nearly one in six of its jobs to the private sector, a move that could have resulted in the loss of thousands of public affairs positions worldwide and a windfall of contracts for private PR firms.

The outsourcing plan, first announced in late 2002, was part of President Bush's directive to trim the government by farming out all work not "inherently governmental." The Army also cited an interest in directing more of its resources to national security and the war on terrorism.

The public affairs office had submitted a request that most of its positions be spared on the grounds that "telling [the Army's] story" is something only an Army officer could do, said a spokesman last year. Nonetheless, it was considered likely that jobs involving the production of publications and other materials would not be exempt.

The initiative was pronounced all but dead last month when Army spokeswoman Jennifer Gunn said, "It has been put on hold, and nothing has been done or sent up to the Army leadership about it."

Gunn pointed to the departure last year of Secretary of the Army Thomas White, who had spearheaded the initiative. His replacement, James Roche, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, but he has given no indication that he will pursue privatization.

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