ffice of Management and Budget to release new rules Thursday that will put private companies on equal footing with government agencies.

WASHINGTON – The government\’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the executive branch\’s accounting and administrative hub, will announce on Thursday new rules for competitive bidding to provide government services to the American people. OMB officials say the changes will result in better services provided at a lower cost to taxpayers, and will create jobs in the process.

Under current law, the government must seek bids from private companies to perform certain services that are deemed "commercial" in nature. If the private companies can perform the service more efficiently than government agencies, the firm is awarded the contract. But critics say existing rules stack the deck against private bidders.

"Finally, private companies will be on equal footing with government agencies in providing commercial services," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "When Congress told the government to allow competitive sourcing for government services, government insiders wrote the rules of the competition process. Of course, they skewed the rules to favor government agencies. Private companies were virtually shut out of competition, even though some of these services were commercial, non-governmental in nature. These new rules should let private companies compete on a level playing field."

Some government services, such as military and police protection, are services that most Americans believe should be provided by the public sector. But other government services, such as cafeteria service in government buildings, are quite different. They advance no general public good, are commercial in nature, and actually take business way from private companies, such as the restaurants that may surround government buildings.

"If a private company can provide these government services at a higher quality or at a cheaper cost than keeping the services in-house, those companies should provide the services," continued Norquist. "Taxpayers save money, citizens and government employees get better service, and more private sector jobs will be created."