The United States Military Academy will outsource more than 300 public works jobs to the private sector, the university announced today.
Ginn Group, a Peachtree City, Ga. company, was selected to provide public works and maintenance services to the Army’s West Point, N.Y. campus.
The decision is tentative and will be subject to a 20-day review period during which losing bidders can protest to the Government Accountability Office. The estimated cost savings will be released following that 20-day period, a USMA spokesman said.
Col. Daniel Bruno, West Point’s garrison commander, gave the news to the employees today.Â He said:
I will work to ensure a smooth transition period and an environment in which all displaced federal employees receive the utmost support.
The contractor must give qualified displaced employees the right of first refusal for any openings it needsÂ to fill to carry out the work. In addition, the federal employees can register with the government’s priority placement program, according to a West Point news release.Â
The workers are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees. Don Hale, the local AFGE president, told Federal Times that the right of first refusal is not the same as guaranteed long-term employment. The contractor is not bound by federal employment rules and can fire a former federal employee for any reason after that person accepts a job, he said.
In addition, he noted there are few other federal opportunities in the area for those displaced under this decision. In many cases, those who decide not to accept early retirement or take a job with the contractor, will have to move if they wish to remain in federal service, he said.
The decision comes almost exactly 30-months to the day after it formally began in September 2006. The Army began preparations for the competition in 2002. When conducting a public-private competition agencies must make a decision within 30 months.
Last week, I reported members of Congress wrote to Secretary Robert Gates asking him to cancel the competition before a decision was announced.
Reps. John Hall, D-N.Y., and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., noted that both the WhiteÂ House and Congress agreed to provisions in the recently signed omnibus spending bill to shut down future competitive sourcing actions in response to long-standing concerns about how costs and savings are calculated.
The competition, not including the preparation costs, has cost the Army $3.8 million since 2006, said Queen Moore, the Army’s northeast regional chief of competitive sourcing for the Installation Management Command.
In a joint statement today, the two congressmen said:
Shifting government jobs at West Point to the private sector makes no sense financially, poses a potential security risk, and it has the potential to violate civil rights…Civilian government employees at West Point have done their jobs honorably and effectively for a long time and should not lose those jobs as the result of an ideologically driven study initiated by the previous president.Â
We strongly encourage President Obama and Secretary Gates to intervene and not let the misguided policies of the past result in misguided actions in the future.
Aides to Rep. Hinchey told Federal Times last week that he may try to halt any West Point privatization through the appropriations process.
A second competitive sourcing decision affecting more than 130 custodial jobs at West Point is expected to tomorrow, the last day before the Army is in violation of the 30-month deadline.