NGTOC by the Numbers: It’s Rolla, Not Denver

By Adena Schutzberg

Rolla 4.18, Denver.2.84
The Rolla Daily News reports that when the numbers were added up, Rolla should have been chosen as the location for the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC), not Denver.Based on documents with the scores, the paper reports, "Rolla received a total score of 4.18 out of a possible 5 points and Denver scored 2.84 out of 5." The numbers reflect specific criteria defined in evaluating the possible center locations.

Rolla had top scores (5-out-of-5 points) on cost factors including wages and operational costs and how the wage rates would contribute toward a competitive bid from a private entity.Denver had higher scores than Rolla on access to partners, ease of travel to the site and geospatial education within a 50 mile radius.

Subjective Decision
The paper questioned Karen Siderelis, the associate director for geospatial information, who it states, "made the decision to consolidate the program." "Based on cost, Rolla comes out ahead, but cost was one factor, not the sole factor," Siderelis said in an interview."This is a subjective decision," USGS Chief of Office of Communications Barbara Wainman, who also participated, said."Depending on how you are looking at it, you can make a case for any of the sites." She went on, "Rolla is the cheapest, we don't disagree with that.But we looked at a broader scope of issues."

Speculation and Investigation
The paper reports that "Some have speculated that Denver was chosen because it would be less cost efficient than Rolla, which would allow more government jobs to be outsourced." Recall that for a bidder to take on government work under A-76 it must be able to do the work with a 10% reduction in cost.That means that a government agency that "cost more" might give private contractors a "better shot" at a win.The lower cost government solution would make a private sector win more difficult.

What then were the numbers for, if the decision appears to be subjective? Former USGS Director Chip Groat doesn't know what swayed the decision, "Cost certainly should be significant factor in the decision and in the early stages, the portfolio Rolla presented was very impressive," Groat said in the paper."What point in comparing factors tipped the balance, I just don't know."

That's the question on the lips of Missouri Representative Jo Ann Emerson and the state's two senators.Emerson already has the score sheet which ranked Rolla above Denver.They are expecting to see more documents in the coming days and weeks.

Published Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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