WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) issued the below letter to General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Dan Tangherlini regarding recent reports that the Obama Administration made a policy change to ship jobs overseas which resulted in blind and disabled American workers being laid off.
In his letter to the GSA, Rep. Scalise called on the Obama Administration to reverse this policy in order to restore the American jobs that have been lost as a result of the new procurement rules, and also raised questions about the transparency of the new contracts.
October 10, 2014
Honorable Dan Tangherlini
Administrator, General Services Administration
1800 F. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20405
Dear Administrator Tangherlini:
I read with concern an article that appeared today in the Washington Times that described how the implementation of a program to provide supplies to our troops in Central Asia was resulting in over 40 jobs lost at the Lighthouse for the Blind in New Orleans. For over 75 years, AbilityOne agencies, such as Lighthouse for the Blind, have helped to support our troops and provide meaningful jobs and income to individuals who are legally blind or have severe disabilities. At a time when our economy is still struggling to provide jobs, we need to make sure we are not shipping jobs overseas at the expense of the most underemployed sector of our workforce.
While the safety and security of our men and women overseas is the top priority, I have several questions about whether this program is being administered in a fashion that also protects jobs for the disadvantaged here at home. Specifically, I would like a response on what steps the Administration has taken to protect jobs being disproportionally lost at organizations for the blind and disabled.
Additionally, the underlying statute requires that products purchased overseas be: “ from a country along a major route of supply to Afghanistan if it is mined, produced, or manufactured in a covered country.” There have been significant questions raised as to whether all products purchased under this program have been “mined, produced, or manufactured” in an eligible country. I request all information on steps the GSA has taken to document this requirement is being met. A government program that chooses to ship jobs overseas must be completely transparent and fully audit suppliers to ensure the law is being followed.
I ask that you, in consultation with the Department of Defense, review and reconsider the program's operations to protect the jobs of the blind and disabled. I look forward to your response on how we can best protect both men and women in uniform and, at the same time, those back home who are among the most disadvantaged.
Member of Congress