Converting contract IT workers to employees saved $27M, official says

Customs and Border Protection's enterprise IT division federalized 200 jobs in fiscal 2010

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Information and Technology unit saved $27 million in fiscal 2010 by converting about 200 contract employees to federal employees, a senior official said today.

“We are giving a major push to federalization,” Bob Neubert, executive director of the technology office’s Enterprise Networks and Technology Support Division, said at the office’s Industry Day today. The vendor event was held in conjunction with AFCEA's Homeland Security conference. CBP is part of the Homeland Security Department.

The savings were achieved by hiring the contract workers at salaried rates that were lower than the contracted rates, he said. The goal was to strike the appropriate balance between contract work and oversight, and previously the balance favored contractors rather than oversight, Neubert said.


Related story:

CBP to hire 1,000 IT workers during fiscal 2011


The converted jobs included field support, program management, network support and training staff, CBP officials said. The new federal jobs ranged from General Service Levels 5 through 11; none were senior executive service jobs.

Neubert’s division of 2,100 workers and a $400 million budget represents about half the labor force of the technology office. The savings from federalization were used to offset budget cuts there, he added.

Insourcing has been affecting other areas of CBP as well and is likely to continue this year. Ken Ritchhart, deputy assistant commissioner of the technology office, said recently that the office intends to convert 1,000 jobs this year. The enterprise networks division anticipates federalizing possibly another 100 positions in fiscal 2011, officials said.

In a related area, CBP officials including Charles Armstrong, assistant commissioner for the technology office, described acquisition goals and trends at the agency, including increased collaboration between the acquisitions office and the technology office, regular use of requests for information to solicit advance information from vendors, and agile and incremental development of IT projects.

Holding the CBP’s industry outreach event in conjunction with the AFCEA event was a sign of increased collaboration, Armstrong said.

“This is a learning process for us," Armstrong said. "We are really trying to improve our communications, so please be patient with us. Tell us what we don’t know.”

He also urged vendors not to overlook the CBP even though it is a relatively small agency.

“We are in the middle of budget cuts, but we do spend about $1 billion" a year, Armstrong said.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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