Forest Service workers win sourcing work

Officials in the Agriculture Department's Forest Service have announced their intent to award a five-year, $295 million competitive sourcing contract to the service's information technology services group.

Under the rules of competitive sourcing, agency officials said they could offer no further information about the winning proposal until a waiting period ends. If the losing vendor does not protest or file an appeal, details about the Forest Service's bid could be made public by Aug. 16, said Joan Golden, the agency's acting director for information resources management.

Even if the award stands, employees in the service's IT support group can expect changes, Golden said. Competitive sourcing is done to save money on operating expenses, so most likely, the agency's proposal calls for a smaller IT organization with fewer employees.

Competitive sourcing permits companies to compete against federal employees for jobs deemed by officials to be nongovernmental in nature.

Generally speaking, competitive sourcing creates organizations with at least 30 percent fewer employees, said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees. "That means there easily still could be a reduction in force, even if the employees win," she said.

Without disclosing details about how the Forest Service's new IT support group would be structured, Golden said many officials within the agency are looking forward to changes. "We're excited about our new organization, so we're kind of on pins and needs here to see if we can move ahead immediately, or if there's another hurdle or two to cross over," she said.

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