Friday, March 11, 2011

Prison Labor: Low Cost for Military Contractor

Photo by I'll Never Grow Up
We certainly don't need to import defense products from China or pay migrant workers a minimum wage in so called "sweat shops", when all you need is an Army of prisoners to sew up your Tactical Vests.

Wired broke the  story today on just the shy of $20 mil. No-Bid awarded to Federal Prison Industries/Unicor, which seems to be at the behest of someone complaining in the tactical industry. The timing of the article is rather suspect.

The DOD announced the award as follows:
"Federal Prison Industries, Washington, D.C., was awarded a $19,767,468 firm-fixed-price contract March 4, 2011.  The award will provide for the procurement of Outer Tactical Vests for Pakistan.  Work will be performed in Yazoo City, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 15, 2011.  One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received.  The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W91CRB-08-D-0045)."

While it seems logical to save tax payers money in creating such products, this can raise morality issues that can cause a lot of talking heads to come out of the woodwork. This is especially the case when the awarded contractor has failed in the past when providing protective gear. The article points out that they had a previous contract for protective helmets, but dropped the ball when it came to ballistic tests. I guess license plates are a little easier to produce in confined conditions. 

It is very interesting that the award was posted at 5PM Eastern on Wednesday and Wired dropped the article at 7AM the following day. Timing can mean everything when it comes to vying for government funds. However, fret not Armor Protection Systems manufacturers, there are plenty more contracts to be had and with a "fair bidding" system. FBO has a running line of solicitations for Vests, Carriers, and other related armor based tactical equipment. Government contracting can be tough, hence the term "Award"!

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