Presidio of Monterey gets new, private security guards for less money.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Out goes one Alaska indigenous corporation and in comes another at the Presidio of Monterey. Doyon Security Services recently routed Chenega Security & Protection Services for the contract at the Presidio and six other Pacific Coast military installations.
Doyon took over the vehicle checkpoints on Thursday, April 19, but Chenega employees weren’t exactly laid off. Instead Doyon offered them the same job for about $5 less an hour. Doyon couldn’t rehire enough Chenega employees to man the gates; the contractor is bussing in guards from other installations.
Chenega started its guards at more than $17 an hour while Doyon offered the same employees $12.71 an hour. One officer, who worked at the Presidio for three years, says the majority of the 46 Chenega employees aren’t staying on.
The officer says he and other guards can’t afford that kind of pay cut. “There is no way that we can live in the area on the wage that they’re offering,” he says.
Marc Woodward, Doyon’s director of security operations, says the contractor used the wage determination set by the US Department of Labor in its bid. “It’s unfortunate that the wage determination seems to be low for the area,” he says.
Woodward adds that Chenega “got a bigger bottom line” in the previous contract because it didn’t go through the competitive bidding process.
Starting in 2003, the Army awarded no-bid security contracts worth $495 million to Chenega and Alutiiq Security and Technology. Both firms are subsidiaries of Alaska Native Corporations, which get preference for government contracts because they are classified as small, disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses. Congress created the native corporations in 1971 to settle aboriginal claims and trigger economic development for indigenous tribes.
But critics say the system mainly benefits multinational companies like Halliburton that partner with the native businesses to receive no-bid contracts with limitless award amounts.
To provide base security Chenega and Alutiiq partnered with two of the country’s largest security firms, Vance Federal Security Services and Wackenhut Services Inc., respectively.
The Army brought in private security guards to fill the surveillance gap left by troop deployments following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
In April 2006, however, a Government Accountability Office report said the “sole-source” contracts were more expensive than competitively bid work orders. The Army, the report said, also jeopardized base security by not properly screening guards and allowing contractors to hire dozens of employees with criminal records. The office recommended the Army re-bid the military base contracts with a full and open process.
Three months later, the Army invited small, socially and economically disadvantaged businesses to bid on the five-year, security guard contracts in the West, Northeast and Pacific Coast regions. The request for proposals turned into a bidding match between Chenega, Doyon and other Alaskan corporations.
Doyon’s bid for the Pacific Coast installations was more than $41 million, says Army spokesman Stephen Oertwig.
Prior to the contract, Woodward says, Doyon only provided security to a small base in Alaska. Now the company will use about 400 armed guards to protect seven installations, including the Presidio. “This is the first contract that we have had of this size,” Woodward says.
Although Doyon is classified as a “small business,” its parent company Doyon Ltd. is hardly a mom-and-pop operation. With 12.5 million acres, Doyon is Alaska’s largest private landowner. Last year the corporation posted $18.9 million in profit on $96.7 million revenue. The company’s other ventures include oil drilling and tourism.
Doyon’s subcontractor for base security is Coastal International Security, a South Carolina-based firm.
Doyon’s profits, Woodward says, go back to its 14,000 Alaskan native shareholders. But it looks like some of those profits will instead pay for bus fare and lodging for the guards protecting the Presidio.