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Feds Spending $30 Million to Clean State Department

AP
• August 29, 2013 10:35 am

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The State Department is spending nearly $30 million to have its buildings cleaned, it was announced Monday.

A $29.8 million contract for "Janitorial Services" was awarded to R and R Janitorial, Painting, and Building Services, Inc. for cleaning and maintenance of the main State building, the Harry S. Truman building, and the Blair House in Washington, D.C.

The agreement includes a base year and four option years, and covers a wide array of services for the buildings, including basic janitorial services, snow removal, carpet shampooing, and recycling.

Detailed instructions are provided to the contractor on "insight to cleaning terrazzo floors," and the types of dusting cloths to use in the State Department.

Under the section "specific directions for housekeeping staff of the diplomatic reception rooms," the contract states, "Dust hardwood around and under all heavy furniture and their legs with fuzzy extended hand duster." No feather dusters, or dusters with yellow cloth or strips, can be used, the contract orders.

In addition, the contract instructs when to use the "white dust cloth" (wood furniture, lamps, bowls), "small museum dust brush" (frames, mirrors), and the "damp green cloth" (mirror glass).

It also includes quality standards for escalators, drinking fountains, and telephones. The company must use a Nilfisk vacuum for rugs.

Aside from snow removal, the company will be charged with "small animal removal" to clean up dead mice, rats, and birds found outside of the buildings.

Numerous documents accompanied with the award also include information about the recycling program, which applies to all State Department activities, "regardless of location, and regardless of building ownership, and must be adhered to by all DOS bureaus, employees, contractors and visitors."

The requirements under the program include, "Looking for and analyzing opportunities to increase recycling wherever and whenever possible." In addition, the contract includes a "Buying Green" policy that advocates the use of environmentally friendly products.

The contract also stipulates that the company must have a top-secret facility clearance at the time of the award.

R and R will have to submit numerous lists and reports as part of the deal, such as a "Hazardous Material Inventory List," weekly status report, snow removal plan, and "Strike Contingency Plan," or face monetary deductions.

Wages for the cleaning positions range from $19 to $22. "Utility cleaners" and "Waxers/Buffers" are paid $19.45 an hour; a "General Cleaner" receives $19.31; "Lead General Cleaner" $19.95; and a "Lead Utility Cleaner" $20.11. Employees with top-secret security clearance receive an additional $1.00 an hour, while those on snow removal earn an extra $2.00.

Workers will also be rotated every six months to avoid "becoming complacent in their work environment."

Though the contract may seem like a large amount, the State Department accounts for only 2.24 percent of the federal government’s spending for janitorial services, according to a study by Epipeline, which provides government market research.

Government spending for janitor contracts totaled $3.3 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2013.

"The Public Buildings Service was the largest procurer for these services for the last five fiscal years (FY09 through FY13), with more than $1 billion in contract spending," the report said.

Among the top 10 federal agencies, the State Department came in last for janitorial contract spending during this period, behind the Army ($385 million), and the Air Force ($295 million). Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and the Navy all spent more than $100 million.