Forest Service IT workers win outsourcing competition

Forest Service IT workers win outsourcing competition

Technology employees at the Agriculture Department's Forest Service this week received final notice that the government had chosen their reorganization plan over an outsourcing proposal submitted by a vendor under an Office of Management and the Budget Circular A-76 competition.

Spokeswoman Heidi Valetkevich said the employee group would implement a $295 million project over five years and that their plan would generate about $100 million in savings over the period.

The project will cover about 2,500 employees, many of whom have other duties in addition to IT services, Valetkevich said. The work involved now is equal to the tasks of about 830 employees, but efficiencies generated by the employee-designed reorganization plan will reduce the number of full-time equivalent employees to 650.

As a result, about 180 Forest Service employees will be effectively displaced by the reorganization. Valetkevich said those employees would receive career counseling and possibly get other jobs in the agency or qualify for early buyouts.

'We are going to try to minimize the impact to them,' Valetkevich said of the displaced employees.

Forest Service officials have been conducting the A-76 competition for about 17 months. They advised the employees several days ago that their proposal had been chosen but that the final award would depend on the result of any protest. No company protested the award decision, which became final this week.

Employees covered by the competition maintain the infrastructure of IT operations and operate radio communication systems. They are located in 43 states, Valetkevich said. Part of the reorganization will involve consolidating some IT operations across the 155 national forests.

The covered employees do not carry out software development work, Valetkevich said. She said the name of the company competing for the work was not immediately available.

'When we started the competition, we looked at the industry standards and realized that we were not up to the industry standards' of efficiency, Valetkevich said. 'We made changes to gain efficiency.'

The Forest Service employees will reorganize themselves into a group called the Information Solutions Organization. Their director, whose title has not yet been determined, will be Grant Dekker, who now is the Forest Service's assistant director of information resources management. Dekker will report to Forest Service CIO Keith Jackson. About five sixths of the service's IT workforce will join the new organization, Heerwagen said.


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