Was A Contractor Responsible for Snafu on Missile Fuses?

When the Pentagon admitted yesterday that high-tech electrical fuses for Minuteman nuclear warheads were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan from Hill Air Force Base in Utah in 2005 2006, military officials gave the impression that the Defense Logistics Agency was responsible for the snafu. What the Pentagon did not bother to mention is that three four years earlier, management of distribution activities at Hill was placed in the hands of a private contractor—EG&G Technical Services. The contract was awarded after the company was deemed to have won an A-76 public-private competition for the work. Shortly after the contract award, EG&G was acquired by URS Corporation, which later consolidated EG&G’s operations with its Lear Siegler Services operation.

In June 2002 the Defense Logistics Agency put out a press release that reads in part:

DLA Affirms Distribution Depot A-76 Competition Result

Fort Belvoir, Va. — The Defense Logistics Agency announced today the final decision on the public-private competition for performance of distribution operations at Defense Distribution Depot Hill, Utah (DDHU).

On April 5, 2002 a tentative decision was announced selecting EG&G Technical Services Inc., headquartered in Manassas, Va. to perform the distribution operations at the depot.

The DLA Administrative Appeal Authority received and considered appeals of the tentative cost comparison decision from the DDHU employees, AFGE Local 1592, and EG&G Technical Services, Inc.

A few weeks earlier, after a tentative decision to award the contract to EG&G had been made, the company issued its own release, which specifically referred to Minuteman missiles:

EG&G Technical Services, Inc. Selected To Perform Distribution Operations Contract At Utah’s Hill Defense Distribution Depot

MANASSAS, VA — April 16, 2002 — EG&G Technical Services, Inc., Installations and Logistics Division, is pleased to announce it has been tentatively selected by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to provide storage and distribution services at Defense Distribution Depot Hill, Utah (DDHU).

Under the proposed contract, EG&G will provide parts and materials storage and distribution services to support the U.S. Air Force, Hill Air Force Base, Ogden Air Logistics Center and other military customers. Specifically, EG&G will store and distribute parts and materials for F-16 “Fighting Falcon” and C-130 Hercules aircraft; Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles; the Emergency Rocket Communication System and other general maintenance functions.

EG&G previously has won three similar contracts at DLA Depots at San Antonio, Texas; Warner Robins, Georgia; and Barstow, California. As at the other locations, EG&G anticipates that virtually all employees at the Utah depot would come from the existing Department of Defense workforce and the local community.

Lex Allen, Vice President and General Manager of EG&G Installations and Logistics Division, said, “We are very excited about being selected for the Hill Depot award. It represents another key step in fulfilling our strategic vision to be the premier provider of logistics support to the Defense Logistics Agency. We are eager to work with the current Government employees at Hill and our plans include offering them jobs first – the workforce at Hill Depot is known for its work ethic and commitment to customer satisfaction. We have demonstrated success at other depot operations in offering employment to all existing employees who were interested in joining EG&G.”

Following a routine contract process, expectations are that the DLA will finalize the contract award sometime in June.

Like the passport scandal of last week, this may turn out to be another case of contractor mismanagement.

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