Single bidder wins Energy contract

Energy Department employees and private-sector companies teamed up to win a $1 billion competitive sourcing contract to manage information technology services more efficiently and cut costs departmentwide. But some industry representatives said the deal did not represent anything competitive.

"Even though I don't doubt there are performance and cost improvements that will result, I don't think anybody can say that they've come anywhere close to optimizing anything because they didn't have real competition," said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council.

Chris Jahn, president of the Contract Services Association of America, said the organization met with DOE officials late last year because they were concerned about not getting enough bidders. He said private-sector companies did not participate because they were concerned about how the department was managing the process.

A DOE official who did not want to be named acknowledged that the competition had only one bidder: the group of federal employees who teamed with private industry. But the department's procurement office made every effort to reach out to the private sector to get bids, the official said, adding that department officials would have liked more private-sector bids. But ultimately companies decided not to bid.

"I think we did a really good job," the official said. "I think the bid's good. It'll save a considerable sum of money."

Competitive sourcing, which is governed by Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, typically pits a private-sector vendor against a team of federal employees.

In this situation, the two sides decided to partner on the effort, a first in government. DOE's deal teams federal workers with 1 Source Consulting, RS Information Systems and several other companies.

Department officials estimate that DOE will save about $300 million in a seven-year period and reduce the 172 federal full-time equivalent and 1,000 contractor employees by about 40 percent. Most federal reductions would come through attrition and reassignments.

In an e-mail message to Federal Computer Week, Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, wrote that union officials applauded the award to the federal employees.

"NTEU continues to believe that taxpayers get the best value when federal employees, rather than profit-driven private companies, perform the work of the government," Kelley said.

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