Biden aims to limit turnover among federal contract workers

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President Joe Biden speaks before signing into law S. 1511, the "Protecting America's First Responders Act of 2021," S. 1502, the "Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support Counseling Act or the COPS Counseling Act," and S. 921, the "Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act," in the State Dining Room of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, look on. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed an executive order Thursday aimed at limiting turnover for federal service contract workers by offering them right of first refusal when a contract changes hands. 

Under the order, when a federal service contract is transferred from one contractor to another, employees from the previous contract who performed their jobs well must be offered the opportunity to keep their job working for the new contractor. The order covers more than 2 million federal contractors, who do everything from fulfill building maintenance roles to operate technical equipment. 

The White House said the order will reduce turnover among workers who fulfill critical roles supporting federal operations. It's aimed at preventing disruptions and the expense of recruiting and training workers to fill jobs that existing contractors do well. The administration says the order also protects experienced, well-performing workers by giving them job opportunities that outlast the lifetime of a single government contract and avoiding unnecessary transitions.

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Administration officials said it could cost as much as 20% of a worker's salary to recruit, hire and train replacement personnel, and that the order would bring significant cost savings to the federal government. Officials did not immediately provide an estimate of the cost saving.

According to the White House, federal service contract workers are disproportionately women and people of color, and that the order would further the administration's equity goals.

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