Manchester Fuel Depot workers will keep their jobs

"Government workers at Defense Fuel Support Point-Puget Sound in Manchester are celebrating.They get to keep their jobs. The federal government’s “A-76” process evaluates whether private companies can do government jobs cheaper than government workers. The process examined Manchester during the last two years Capt. Dean Bunkers, commanding officer of the Fleet Industrial and Supply Center, Puget Sound, made the important announcement in person to the 35 workers at Manchester Sept. 28.Essentially, until the Bunkers’ announcement came, Manchester workers had put their personal lives on all-stop, according to Lt. Cmdr. Charlotte Smith, director of the Manchester Fuel Depot.“The workers had this A-76 process hanging over their heads for two years,” Smith said. “Many of them did not make purchases, they put money in the bank, they actually put their lives on hold. They put off making major repairs to a car, even put off having children, because of, ‘What if I don’t have a job in the fall of 1999?’” The arduous, competitive study was established by the federal Office of Management and Budget in response to calls from the top to cut cost and overhead. A-76 is sweeping across military installations worldwide, according to Manchester’s deputy director, Bob Cairns.“The process started in Guam and then they did the East Coast, Jacksonville and Norfolk, and then they did the West Coast which included Pearl Harbor, San Diego and us. We started preparing for this (study) back in March of 1996,” Cairns said.The mounds of paperwork and reviewing of each job’s procedures right down to the smallest detail paid off, according to Smith. “You give yourself a really hard look,” Smith said. “You do analysis as to how long does it take you to conduct business? Is there a smarter way to conduct business? It’s a form of reengineering and becoming more efficient and at the same time it’s a competition.”That competition being the private sector contractor who will be bidding for specific government contracts and possibly displacing a government worker. “You do this self-look at yourself and you detail that out and say, ‘I can accomplish this work with this new organization,’ and that becomes your bid, the government’s bid, and then you pit that against the private sector’s bid,” Smith said. The Manchester leadership team spent a year in preparing an in-depth performance work statement that describes in detail, how they provide fuel to the Navy and other government agencies, how they run their equipment, provide the required maintenance and safety procedures as well as providing the proper number of personnel to complete each and every job.The statement, when completed, becomes public information that a private-sector contractor can use in order to prepare their own bid.Cairns said that this time around, six Navy fuel installations were under A-76 review. He said that normally, two-thirds of the time the government bid prevails and one-third of the time it goes to the private contractor. “That statistic came right through. Pearl Harbor and Norfolk lost and Guam, Jacksonville San Diego and Puget won. One of the secrets to winning at the A-76 process is to have a good Performance Work Statement that describes exactly what you do,” Cairns said. Bunkers said the A-76 process forces change whether one likes it or not.“You really have to become very business-wise because you are up against private industry here. It certainly gives me the opportunity now to look at the inside of a bid much closer so I can apply lessons learned to other A-76 process’ in the future,” Bunkers said. There is an automatic appeals process until Nov. 1 for the two private sector contractors who bid on the Manchester contract to challenge the bid. But after that date, the government has three and a half months to implement the depot with “Most Efficient Organization” status, which lasts for the length of the five-year contract, when another A-76 review could take place. Cairns added success was gained by having position descriptions reflect the Manchester workforce was multi-talented by conducting in-depth, cross-training that reaped efficiency benefits. Fueling operations at Manchester have been going on for more than 75 years with it being the largest deep water bulk fuel terminal on the West Coast. It’s responsible for receiving, storing, issuing, and accounting for government petroleum products that are used by Department of Defense customers throughout the Northwest. Cairns said although the government won the contract, there will be a few workers that will be displaced. They may be transferred to other positions within FISC or to another federal government agency, or they may opt to exercise retirement or separation through the SIP/VERA programs. He added that the A-76 process is moving on through Puget Sound with upcoming reviews at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Port Hadlock within a year.“It’s going to be a huge impact on the region when the A-76 process starts looking at large organizations with more than 400 people, where we had only 35 people,” Cairns said."

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