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The General Services Administration will discontinue funding for 13 private telework centers in the Washington area at the end of March. About 300 federal employees work at the facilities.
Contracts for the telework centers expired Sept. 30, 2010, and GSA had been working with the center's owners to determine if they would close, or continue to operate under a private sector model. A final decision on the centers' future was due Feb. 28.
According to GSA spokeswoman MaryAnne Beatty, the number of employees working at the centers represented less than 1 percent of the Washington-area federal workforce. The government spent about $3 million annually to operate the centers -- about $10,000 a year per user. Affected employees were notified in December of potential closures.
GSA said in an e-mailed statement that telework is less about where work gets done and more about how it gets done. "Advancements in technology, connectivity and culture have expanded the choices for telework beyond that of home, telework center, or office to include virtually any place at any time," the statement said.
In October 2010, Administrator Martha Johnson announced that GSA was building virtual meeting centers across the country, including five in the Washington area. The high-tech centers, which are expected to be operational in mid-2011, were intended to have people "move off airplanes and on to tele presence," she said at the time.
The telework centers that will close March 31 include Bowie, Laurel Lake and Prince Frederick in Maryland; Fredericksburg and Winchester in Virginia; and Kearneysville in West Virginia.
The centers that will remain open but without GSA funding include Manassas, Fairfax, Stafford and Woodbridge in Virginia; and Hagerstown, Frederick and Waldorf in Maryland.
The College of Southern Maryland operates three of the centers that will close. "The college is extremely disappointed as we have had a longtime association, since 1993, of partnering with GSA to provide this valuable service and convenience to our residents and telecommuting members of our community," CSM President Bradley Gottfried said in a prepared statement.
George Mason University, despite the end of federal funding, will keep its telecommuting facilities open and actually expand the program to operate nine centers across Northern Virginia. The university believes there is a demand for flexible locations among employees for whom working from home is not a great fit, said Keith Segerson, managing director of the Mason Enterprise Center, which runs the facilities. For example, one federal worker told Segerson his wife runs a day care from home, so he cannot work there. Also, the facilities can more easily accommodate work teams than most home offices, he said.
The university will add new features, such as workstations and private offices, Segerson said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Air Force announced Thursday it awarded a $3.5 billion initial contract to Boeing for the production of 18 next-generation aerial refueling tankers.
That is a down payment on a contract worth about $35 billion for 179 planes.
Aerial refueling tankers allow the military to refuel aircraft in mid flight, greatly extending the range of operation for smaller aircraft, while also providing the capability to carry cargo and airlift personnel.
Both Boeing and the North American unit of EADS -- which owns Airbus --submitted bids for the blockbuster contract and planned to base their planes on popular civilian aircraft, specifically the Boeing 767 and Airbus A330.
"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement.
Boeing shares jumped more than 3% in after-hours trading.
The announcement is the culmination of a decade-long process that has been fraught with pitfalls and political pressure as lawmakers lobbied to bring the project -- and resulting jobs -- into their districts.
Both companies estimated the contract would support thousands of jobs, with Boeing planning to build the aircraft in Everett, Wash., and Wichita, Kan. EADS would have based its production facilities in Mobile, Ala.
On Wednesday, Gulf state governors sent a letter to President Obama, saying the contract could significantly boost their state economies, which are reeling from natural and man-made disasters.
But on Thursday, it was Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Sam Brownback of Kansas who won out.
They had sent a letter of their own to Obama, arguing, "We believe this tanker will best meet the Air Force's requirements and prove the best value for the American taxpayer."
Gregoire said in a statement Thursday that it was a great day for "the 11,000 aerospace workers in Washington state alone that will play a role in assembling the NewGen tanker."
In a conference call with reporters, Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said that the program will support more than 50,000 jobs and 800 suppliers spread across more than 40 states.
EADS has the right to protest the Pentagon's decision, but Pentagon officials said Thursday they were confident any appeal would fail. Still, with jobs at stake, there will be political pressure to try and overturn the decision.
"I am deeply disappointed that the EADS team was not selected to build the next air refueling tanker for the Air Force," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said in a statement. "In light of today's result, I intend to examine the process carefully to ensure it was fairly conducted."
The contract has had a long and convoluted history.
Northrop Grumman and European partner EADS originally won the contract in February 2008. But Boeing protested and the Air Force reversed its decision and changed the requirements for the plane.
Northrop later said it would not bid on a multi-billion-dollar contract to build the tanker because it believed the rules for the contract favored its competitor, Boeing.
After Northrop dropped out, its partner company, EADS, asked the Pentagon for a 90-day extension to file its own bid.
The tankers will replace the aging Boeing KC-135, which first entered service in 1957. About 100 of the oldest "Stratotanker" models have been grounded since 2006 due to age.
Originally needed to keep B-52 nuclear bombers in the air for long periods of time, the Stratotanker quickly found new missions in Vietnam, where it enabled small fighter bombers to strike targets anywhere in the country. It revolutionized the use of air power, and is continuing to play that role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3/9/2011 - SINDELFINGEN, Germany (AFNS) -- Members of the Defense Department's newest combatant command bid farewell to their inaugural commander.
Army Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward passed the reins of U.S. Africa Command to Army Gen. Carter F. Ham after nearly three years at the helm.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates officiated at the ceremony and spoke to the audience at the Sindelfingen city hall near AFRICOM's headquarters in Stuttgart. Read full article.
Eight companies, including Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems Inc., and L-3 Services, have been named to an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, performance-based contract that includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the individual contracts to an estimated $183 million.
D.C.-area firms will bid on range of IT services.
Three D.C.-area small-business IT contractors will vie for task-order work under a Defense Department contract that has a maximum value of $495 million.
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