May 18, 2007

Goodbye SRS, hello Chickasaws!

By Damon Cline
Chickasaw Nation Industries Inc., the government contracting arm of the Chickasaw Nation, is in negotiations to run information technology operations at Savannah River Site.

You heard me correctly, the Department of Energy is planning to outsource its 200-employee IT department at SRS to the Chickasaw Indians. I say hats off to 'em for moving beyond tobacco outlets and casinos.

Top brass at Washington Savanah River Co., SRS's main contractor, notified employees last week that the Energy Department that talks are in progress. The Energy Department had already put the installation on notice that it had planned to outsource IT (which includes everything from computer security to cellular service) along with the heath/human services and transportation/mechanical departments.

As you can imagine, the people at SRS already employed in those departments are concerned their wages and benefits will be cut when, or if, they become employees of Chickasaw Nation Industries. After all, that's precisely why the government outsources things, so it doesn't have to pay government wages and benefits.

Like most tribal enterprises, Chickasaw Nation Industries is an 8(a) (that's government-speak for a minority-owned business eligible for set-aside contracts). It employs about 2,000 people and is headquartered in Ada, Okla.

If you're interested in learning more about the Chickasaw Nation or its businesses, you can go to and read a nice letter from Chickasaw Nation Industries' very non-Indian looking president, Deryl Wright. By the way, can someone tell me why these 8(a) companies always seem to have white guys in charge?

[An anonymous contributer requested this post and asks the following question:
Is this the type of unidentified company that both NNSA and LLNL Director George Miller refused to identify? There is already a lot of speculation that most of the service groups will be outsourced. I don’t have a good feeling about this, and the secrecy in identifying the four small business partners to participate in running LLNL.]


darko said...

Too bad Jake Viariall isn't around anymore... He might maybe take the LANL contract from Bechtel.

Or maybe Akal Security could take over PTLA.

- Darko

Anonymous said...

There have been rumors of similiar talks with Pojoaque Pueblo for IT servies at LANL

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a Pueblo running the Lab than the crooks we have now. Not sure the management would be any more competent (or incompetent depending of point of view), but couldn't be any more corrupt. Those of European descent, like Bush and his Bechtel/Haliburten cronies, don't even know what it is NOT to be corrupt in every relationship, every transaction, every word they spew. Ain't it grand being a red blooded American these days?!

Anonymous said...

Outsourcing the CTN Division is not a bad idea. I hear employees are disgusted with Management anointing their buddies into management. Forget about qualifications, which got tossed out long ago.

Anonymous said...

Please outsource all of the overhead functions.

Anonymous said...

I've always said this: Outsource:
Desktop computer support(all you should care about is your machine runs and someone comes quickly when it doesn't)

Web development (there are new college grads who know more about this stuff that we ever will with who we have - web development is designed for Gen X or Gen Y folks anyway - short goal set, finish and leave, etc)

App development(remember all-in-one? maybe it was great for it's time but we tend to write a lot o code to do simple tasks. In fact the problem with LANL is we buy shinkwrap software that's been proven to do a task for small dollars, pay millions for the source code, then rewrite to source code to fit our broken processes - and then we sit and try to figure out what went wrong)

Furniture (never figured out why we have entire organization dedicated to furniture and cubicles)



Audits and assessments (it would be truly independent if we didn't own it)

Facilities maintenance (big high rises in NY or San Fran or LA use the Ernst&Young's etc... all you should care about is you come to work and your water runs, toilets flush, HVAC works, etc..)

Unclassified network support and installation

Document Control & Records Mgmt

Project Management

Security (why do we have the liability for security, give it to AKAL or ??? to do

Training (there are professionals out there who are actual classroom experts who can teach multiple classes, not just one)

There are probably another dozen that I haven't identified.

We remove a huge overhead function. We move several thousand employees over to contractors. We are not riffing, they all still have a job. Only the best performers will be kept by the contractor because they are the ones who help them make fee. Put out a RFP, pick the best. If they don't perform well there is a performance incentive. If not they either don't get a performance fee, or you hold a final third of their contract back for failure to perform.

The lab is now down to a manageable 5000, 6000 or 7000 people.

Of course, last time I tried to advocate and move this concept forward was as an acting group leader, and got myself removed for making these seemingly radical changes too fast. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Radical outsourcing moves at LANL are likely afoot. They got delayed by the meth trailer incident and by LANS awaiting the award of the LLNL RFP, but will now gear up sometime after June 1st. This is largely the reason why LANS is not overly concerned about the need to use a RIF in FY08. By next year, a large portion of the workforce will be under outsourced management and the outsourced management can make any necessary layoffs. Then number of employees that work directly for LANS is probably going to be much smaller in the near future.

Anonymous said...

"Then number of employees that work directly for LANS is probably going to be much smaller in the near future."

End of TCP1 shortfalls too?