USGS updates A-76 schedule

The U.S. Geological Survey has reissued a presolicitation notice regarding a controversial competition for jobs that could put 250 USGS employees out of work.

The initial notice, posted September 2005, announced an A-76 jobs competition to determine whether federal or private-sector employees will operate a new mapping center in Lakewood, Colo. The competition was temporarily suspended last fall by USGS' parent agency, the Interior Department, because of a dispute concerning the site’s selection process.

The purpose of the new notice, which was posted Saturday, is to update the schedule, USGS officials said today.

Now, the scheduled issue date for the draft solicitation is in May, followed by a final solicitation in June. Proposals will likely be due by the end of August. USGS officials anticipate awarding a contract by early February 2007. The projected end date for the competition had been Sept. 30, 2006.

The postponement occurred because lawmakers asked Interior Inspector General Earl Devaney to investigate the process that USGS used in choosing the Colorado site.

Devaney issued a memo February stating that his office had uncovered no misconduct. But he added that USGS officials were not completely open in explaining how they came to their decision.

Whether the center’s operations are outsourced or handled by federal employees, the new National Geospatial Technical Operations Center will eliminate all employee positions in each of USGS’ four regional centers, agency officials said. Those centers are in Reston, Va.; Rolla, Mo.; Menlo Park, Calif.; and Lakewood. The outcome of the competition, which will be governed by the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76 rules, could eliminate as many as 250 federal jobs.

USGS publishes most official U.S. maps. The agency wants to outsource or eliminate most of its mapping technology operations because commercial remote-sensing products and other advanced technologies have replaced field surveyors. The center will house most of USGS’ digital mapping services.

Saturday’s presolicitation notice states, “The incumbent service provider consists of Federal government personnel totaling approximately 400 commercial activity [full time equivalent employees] along with 3 contracts.”

Officials estimate that the consolidated center will require only 100 to 150 employees instead of the nearly 400 who operated the four regional centers during the past fiscal year.

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