UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

February 2003

Delphi Question: Salaries for cleaning crew

Delphi Question #498 (received 20 November): This question concerns the cleaning staff. I’ve gotten to know several of the cleaning crew and was disappointed to hear recently that one of them is leaving NCAR/UCAR. I asked him why, and his reply was that he could not support his family with the salary he received while working here full time. After showing me pictures of his family, he told me what his salary was. I will not quote the salary here in order to respect the privacy of his former coworkers at NCAR/UCAR, but it was too low to be a living wage for anyone in Boulder County, particularly those with families. I was shocked to hear this given my positive experience with NCAR/UCAR’s treatment of employees.

I realize that the cleaning crew, as well as staff for a number of other necessary functions, are contract workers from private-sector firms. In the context of striving for family friendliness and political correctness, how does NCAR/ UCAR deal with the contract employees’ needs? Is there any monitoring of the contract companies to ensure that employee salaries and treatment are up to NCAR/UCAR standards?

It seems to me that NCAR/UCAR runs an increased risk to property and general safety with increased turnover in contracted positions resulting from inadequate compensation. Has NCAR/ UCAR considered this when signing contracts?

Response (10 December): UCAR is required by our Cooperative Agreement with NSF and our other federal sponsors in accordance with the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) to obtain competing bids when awarding subcontracts. The stated purpose of CICA is to increase or maintain competition that will likely result in reduced overall costs for the procurement of property or services. UCAR has no authority under CICA or elsewhere to specify wage and benefit packages to private businesses responding to a competitive solicitation.

Following the requirements of NSF and our other federal sponsors, the Contracts Office strives to get the “best value” for UCAR/NCAR/UOP on subcontracts such as the janitorial agreement. The office sends out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to prospective subcontractors for janitorial services. The RFP is quite comprehensive, covering the types of janitorial services needed, the particular buildings to be serviced, the pricing structure, and various terms and conditions by which the subcontractor must abide.

Once the proposals are received in the Contracts Office, they are evaluated on the following three factors:

  • Total proposed contract price (based on square footage serviced)
  • Technical qualifications (including schedule, training, recruitment, retention, equipment, resumes of key personnel, implementation plan, references, and health and safety plans)
  • Business proposal (including stability and financial strength of the organization, history and number of years in business, audited financial statements, insurance certificates, and banking information) The award is made to the provider offering the best value to UCAR, taking these factors into account. UCAR then administers the subcontract to ensure that the subcontractor performs in accordance with subcontract requirements.

As mentioned above, the individual employee wages and benefits are established by the provider, not by UCAR. UCAR does not control how the subcontractor manages its business, including employee wages or benefits. However, the wages and benefits are usually indicative of the prevailing wage rates and benefits for similar positions in the area, because the contractor must pay competitive wages to attract qualified workers.

UCAR’s vendor for janitorial services offers benefits to its employees that include medical and dental insurance, paid vacation time, a 401(k) retirement plan, paid holidays, continuing education and skills training, and team- building activities.

In summary, based on the requirements of the NSF Cooperative Agreement and our other federal sponsors, UCAR is getting the best overall value for janitorial services.

—Beth Stansberry, contracts director Finance and Adminstration

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinator. They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential. They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2, and on the Delphi Web site, www.ucar.edu/delphi. Staff Notes Monthly publishes questions and answers of general interest to staff, and the Delphi Web site has a log of all questions submitted since 1995.

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