Keesler Efficiency Study Impacts 700 Plus Jobs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/18/05

Keesler Efficiency Study Impacts 700 Plus Jobs

General William Lord says the goal is to be more efficient and effective with taxpayer dollars. A lengthy study says Keesler Air Force base can do that by letting the private sector take over hundreds of military jobs.

Those jobs involve a variety of base support services from engineers to maintenance workers to computer operators.

The efficiency study called "A-76" began more than five years ago. It's hard to say exactly how many people on base will flat out lose their jobs. That's because of the 700 plus positions, some employees will transfer to other openings, while others may go to work for the private company that won a hefty contract for base support services.

Airmen assigned to the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron spent Thursday afternoon building a new sidewalk. The changes mean their jobs and many others would be done by civilian workers under direction of a private company rather than the Air Force.

Across the base, some 700 people will change or lose jobs.

"Yes, I think that's accurate. Now some of them will retire. And some of them have processes in place so folks that are eligible can retire early," said General William Lord.

A private company called "DynCorp" won the contract to take over the largest portion of base operating support services. That company may hire some of the civilian workers already doing the same jobs on base.

"Some of those employees may actually, they get first right of refusal, to go to work with DynCorp corporation because they have the expertise and they're local," the general explained.

Some people may be wondering:  Why do this during wartime? Won't that reduce the number of troops available for deployment? Surprisingly, the process may actually free up military personnel for combat operations.

"Those folks that are currently doing those jobs within the communications squadron who are in uniform, will leave. And their jobs will be done by civilians. And that's how we free up those assets," said General Lord.

The transition process will take more than a year. DynCorp doesn't take over until October of next year. The expected savings from the changes is substantial.

"There was a difference of about 60 million dollars. This is a 600 million dollar contract. So, sixty million dollars over the course of ten years. So, it's big numbers," said the commander.

The jobs in jeopardy include 407 military positions and 310 civilian jobs. Again, it's impossible to say how many of those will actually be out of work, since some will transfer to other openings, some will work for the contractor and others will fill vacancies elsewhere in the Air Force.

By Steve Phillips

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