Army issues new round of marching orders for Serco Inc.

It wasn't until he was about to retire from the Army four years ago that Earl Simms started to think about getting a job in the civilian world.

The now-retired brigadier general whose military career spanned 32 years readily took advantage of the Army Career and Alumni Program, which offers transition and job assistance services for soldiers returning to civilian life.

Simms, 60, used the ACAP program to learn how to write a resume, sharpen his interview skills and develop networking skills. The training he received was so good that he ended up working for the company that provided it, Serco Inc. of Vienna, Va.

'I believe it prepared me very well for life outside of the Army,' said Simms, who is Serco's vice president of Army programs.

Known as Resource Consultants Inc. when Simms joined the company, Serco has provided job preparation services for servicemen and women, their families and civilian Army personnel for the last 15 years. It recently won a recompete for a $48 million contract from the Army to continue performing ACAP services.

ACAP was established by a congressional mandate to help soldiers leaving active duty find jobs by providing job-assistance training, counseling and resources.

The contract, which is for one year with two one-year options, is part of a $1.5 billion Army personnel services and support contract awarded in September 2004 to Resource Consultants, SI International Inc. of Reston, Va., and Strategic Resources Inc. of McLean, Va. The three companies compete with each other for work under the contract.

Serco assists soldiers who are leaving the Army for college, private-sector careers, self-employment or retirement. The Labor and Veterans Affairs departments assist Serco in offering ACAP services, said Simms, who is also the program manager for the company's human resources contract.

The Army outsources this work to contractors such as Serco because it saves money and avoids using uniformed personnel to provide the services, Simms added.

More than 200 Serco staffers administer the ACAP services at 53 centers in the United States, Europe and Korea. The company hosts workshops and counseling on benefits and entitlements for which former Army personnel are eligible, as well as job search and salary negotiation skills.

Approximately 195,000 active-duty soldiers, their families and civilian Army employees annually use the program, Simms said. Roughly 95,000 are soldiers in the National Guard or Reserve who have had to transition from active duty back to reserve status during the Iraq War.

Serco sees potential for offering the services to other military branches and already provides ACAP services to non-Army personnel on Army installations if space is available, Simms said.

The task order will expire in 2008. By then, Serco will have worked on this program for 18 years and will be the only provider of ACAP services to date, according to the company.

Serco has performed similar services for the Agriculture Department's Forest Service, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the General Services Administration, the Government Accountability Office and NASA, Simms said.

Serco offers information technology services, systems engineering, strategic consulting and human resource-focused business process management services. It employs about 4,000 of the company's 6,000 workers in North America and had 2004 revenue of $295 million.

Serco's parent company, Serco Group plc of Hampshire, U.K., acquired Resource Consultants' parent, RCI Holding Corp., in March for $215 million.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

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