Jose Hernandez, a Melwood contractor, spruces up the grounds at the RV Park on June 30 in preparation for Fort Meade's 4th of July weekend festivities. On July 1 Melwood and Skookum Contract Services were both awarded base operations contracts.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - The Fort Meade base operations contract made a seamless change of hands Friday when IAP Worldwide, Inc. turned over facility maintenance and other related services that support the installation, after six years of service, to two AbilityOne contractors.

The two companies, Melwood and Skookum Contract Services, were awarded contracts after a nearly two-year process that ensured service members, family members, civilian employees and retirees who live and work on post would continue to receive a high level of service from the Directorate of Public Works and the Directorate of Logistics, said Deputy Installation Commander John M. Moeller.

"The transition to two new base operations contractors should be totally transparent to our customers," Moeller said. "The only difference they may notice is instead of seeing IAP logos on vehicles on post, they'll see Melwood and Skookum logos. In fact, many of IAP's employees simply signed on with the new contractors, so we already have an experienced workforce supporting us."

A driving factor during the contracting process has been to hire contractors who are a part of the AbilityOne program, said Randy Williams, DPW engineering chief and leader of the DPW contracting team.

The AbilityOne program works with private and public groups to provide services to the government and jobs for the blind and other people who have severe disabilities, including warriors in transition and disabled veterans, as outlined on the program website.

More than 1,300 wounded military veterans are part of the AbilityOne 43,000-strong workforce, according to a DoD news release.

Melwood, an AbilityOne contractor headquartered in Upper Marlboro, will employ the bulk of workers, about 120, to oversee maintenance for 350 post facilities; road upkeep on the installation; grounds maintenance; refuse and snow removal; and post recycling for DPW, said Williams.

Skookum, also an AbilityOne employer, will have a smaller contract that will give nearly 40 employees jobs in retail, supply and services, material maintenance, and transportation services with DOL, said Anthony Oliphant, acting director of the DOL.

"A great deal of the [Melwood] contract is fixed-price," Williams said. "Melwood will provide most pricing and negotiate on the schedule of work before jobs are started. In this way, the cost to the government is better budgeted."

Oliphant said the Skookum contract is also fixed-price.

The contract period is five years for both companies, including a base year and four option years, Williams said.

"We have established the goal to employ those with qualifying disabilities for 50 percent of the direct labor force at Fort Meade," said Robert Nash, Melwood project manager for the post contract. "Currently, those with disabilities make up 33 percent of the Melwood direct labor force on post."

Melwood's full workforce includes more than 1,000 people with disabilities working at approximately 70 contract sites around the Washington region.

"[Community members] will see a lot of the same faces, and some new faces as well, as [the contractors] staff up," Williams said.

Initially, there should be a visible difference outdoors, said John Straub, Melwood operations manager of Total Facilities Management Service.

"We expect a change rather quickly with the quality of grounds maintenance," Straub said. "We have been in business more than 45 years and that is one of our specialty areas."

Shortly after coming aboard, Melwood will implement a comprehensive safety program, which will consist of 10 hours of mandatory safety training for its employees, and will afford some DPW personnel training as well, Nash said.

The company has a two-fold mission of providing quality service, that in turn allows the company to create jobs and opportunities for people with differing disabilities so they can enjoy a good quality of life, Nash said.

Melwood's largest contract is a custodial contract for the entire U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, totaling more than 150 workers. Other sites include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

Skookum has also been creating jobs for people with disabilities and barriers to employment since 1988, Oliphant said.

Skookum was awarded the 2010 Performance Excellence in Hiring Veterans with Disabilities award from AbilityOne.

Maintenance calls will be routed through the same phone numbers as before, but will be fielded through the government, then tasked to contractors.

Emergency maintenance requests will continue to be routed to the maintenance line and will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Page last updated Thu July 7th, 2011 at 00:00