APG agrees to privatize some nonmilitary work

Contract could mean loss of 558 civilian jobs at Harford Army base

May 29, 1999|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

As part of an Army-wide effort to save costs by privatizing some services, Aberdeen Proving Ground announced this week a contract that could lead to the loss of 558 jobs at the Harford County base.

Army officials said yesterday that a new private company, Aberdeen Technical Services, outbid the Army for services including building and grounds maintenance, environmental and safety operations, child care and recreational activities, such as movie theaters and sports programs. Those services had been provided by the 7,200 nonmilitary government workers employed at Aberdeen.

If the Army approves the contract, the private company will begin taking over this fall, and 558 of the government workers will be relocated or fired.

Employees would be offered help in finding other jobs with some of the Department of Defense operations at the sprawling base on the Chesapeake Bay. Others would be offered early retirement or voluntary-separation bonuses.

"My main concern at this time is to take care of employees affected by this contract," the garrison commander, Col. Robert Spidel, said in a statement. "We will do everything we can to ensure their rights are protected and to assist them in finding employment."

APG spokesman John Yaquiant said defense budget cuts and the continued effects of the end of the Cold War have led to a slow decline in employment at the proving ground over the past decade.

Civilian jobs have dropped from 8,600 to 7,200 and military jobs from 6,200 to 3,600.

The Army's latest cost-cutting effort is called Commercial Activities, in which Army bases bid against private companies for the right to perform services long done in-house. If the private company can do the job for less, it gets the contract.

Last month, the Army outbid private contractors for the right to continue operating APG's information services, which includes computers, community activities and public affairs.

If that contract is approved, 28 government positions will be eliminated.

Pub Date: 5/29/99

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