Publication Date



[Excerpt] On March 31, 2010, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a proposed policy letter on inherently governmental functions and other “work reserved for performance by federal government employees.” While not final, the policy letter represents the Obama Administration’s proposed guidance for agencies determining (1) whether particular functions are inherently governmental and (2) when functions closely associated with the performance of inherently governmental functions and critical functions should be performed by government personnel. The proposed policy letter was, in part, issued under the authority of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY2009 (NDAA'09) and President Obama’s memorandum of March 4, 2009, on government contracting. Section 321 of NDAA'09 tasked OMB with (1) reviewing existing definitions of “inherently governmental function” to determine whether such definitions are “sufficiently focused” to ensure that only government personnel perform inherently governmental functions or “other critical functions necessary for the mission of a Federal department or agency;” (2) developing a “single consistent definition” of “inherently governmental function” that would address any deficiencies in the existing definitions, reasonably apply to all agencies, and ensure that agency personnel can identify positions that perform inherently governmental functions; (3) developing criteria for identifying critical functions” that should be performed by government personnel; and (4) developing criteria for identifying positions that government personnel should perform in order to ensure that agencies develop and maintain “sufficient organic expertise and technical capacity” to perform their missions and oversee contractors’ work. President Obama’s March 4, 2009, memorandum similarly charged OMB with clarifying when outsourcing is “appropriate.”


Suggested Citation
Halchin, L. E., Manuel, K. M., Reese, S. & Schwartz, M. (2010). Inherently governmental functions and other work reserved for performance by federal government employees: The Obama Administration’s proposed policy letter. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.