Fort Stewart’s contract with Lockheed Martin ends in less than 60 days. Although the contract may be renewed, the company was required by law Wednesday to notify 177 employees their jobs may end by the end of January 2013, according to Chris Crawford with U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston’s office.
“This is a preliminary step required by law,” Crawford said. “These employees could lose their jobs, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to lose their jobs. The Army is expected to make a decision about the contract by mid-December.”
Crawford said that if Lockheed’s contract is renewed, these employees would keep their jobs. However, even if the contract goes to another company, he expects most of the employees to keep their jobs, saying the same services still will be needed. It only makes sense to keep the people already trained to provide those services, he said.
Crawford emphasized that the pending threat of sequestration is not a factor regarding the contract.
“This has nothing to do with sequestration,” he said. “Lockheed’s contract term has come up. That’s all. Before awarding a new contract, the Army has to make sure it’s getting the best possible contractor.”
Crawford added that defense contractors who are affected by sequestration were supposed to give notice to their employees at the first of November, but these contractors were given a waiver by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The waiver exempted them from the requirement to notify employees of a possible layoff, he said.
Sequestration puts 7,000 Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield contractor jobs at risk, Crawford said. He didn’t know if the waiver was politically motivated, but noted it was given just before the election. He added the “trickle effect of uncertainty” already was having an adverse affect on contractors.
“(Government contractors) are not going to hire more employees with their contracts subject to end (Jan. 1),” he said. “And potential (high-tech) employees like engineers aren’t going to look at government contractor jobs with so much uncertainty.”
Fort Stewart Public Affairs Officer Kevin Larson acknowledged that Lockheed Martin’s contract is ending and issued the following statement from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command:
“The Directorate of Logistics has a contract with Lockheed Martin that has reached the end of its contracted time period. The contract has 170 Lockheed Martin personnel assigned and ends in January 2013. The DOL still requires the services this contract provides and is seeking a new contract through a competitive process per federal contracting regulations as stewards of American taxpayers.”
Lockheed spokesman Ken Ross confirmed the number of employees affected by the pending new contract. Although it’s best known for aviation technology, he said Lockheed Martin provides a full spectrum of logistical services
“Yesterday, we notified our (Fort Stewart) employees there’s a potential to be laid off by the end of January if the contract is not renewed,” Ross said. “Obviously, if Lockheed gets the new contract, no employees will be laid off. If we don’t get the new contract, typically, an incoming contractor would take a look at the employees currently filling the contract.”
Ross said Lockheed got the current contract in December 2008, explaining such contracts usually are for multiple years. He said Lockheed’s contract includes providing maintenance, materials and logistical support for wheeled vehicles, engineering equipment and power-generation tools.