Inherently Governmental Functions and Department of Defense Operations: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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An inherently governmental function is one that, as a matter of law and policy, must be performed by federal government employees and cannot be contracted out because it is intimately related to the public interest. Concerned that the existence of multiple andor inconsistent definitions of inherently governmental functions might be partly responsible for the alleged contracting out of inherently governmental functions by the Department of Defense DOD and other agencies, the 110th Congress enacted legislation P.L. 110-417 requiring the Office of Management and Budget OMB to develop a single consistent definition of inherently governmental functions. This definition is to ensure that the head of each ... agency is able to identify each position within that department or agency that exercises an inherently governmental function. By statute, OMB is to report on its definition by October 14, 2009. The current debate over which functions are inherently governmental is part of a larger debate about the proper role of the federal government vis-a-vis the private sector. This debate is as old as the Constitution, which prohibits privatization of certain functions e.g., Congresss legislative function, a prohibition courts enforce under various judicial tests e.g., nondelegation, functions affected with the public interest, etc.. Since the 1920s, federal contracting has been a primary arena for the publicprivate debate, with the executive and legislative branches contesting 1 which functions the government must perform because they are inherently governmental 2 which functions the government should perform because they are closely related to inherently governmental functions or for some policy reason and 3 which functions should be left to the private sector.
- Government and Political Science