The National Security Agency will not outsource hundreds of maintenance jobs to private contractors because many maintenance workers have opted to take early retirement or buyout offers. Last fall, the electronic spy agency, based in Fort Meade, Md., announced it was considering eliminating, downsizing or outsourcing about 400 maintenance positions. NSA offered workers in those jobs the opportunity to take early retirement or accept buyouts from Nov. 15 to Jan. 3. NSA officials would not say how many workers took the offers, but said that enough left voluntarily that the agency decided no maintenance workers will be laid off and the work will remain in-house. The Baltimore Sun reported that about 200 of agency's 700-employee maintenance work force decided to leave their jobs. NSA began aggressively seeking to outsource noncore work two years ago in an effort to free up limited dollars for mission-essential work and the purchase of new electronic spying systems. In the largest outsourcing effort to date, known as Project Groundbreaker, the agency contracted out hundreds of information technology support jobs. However, NSA avoided layoffs in its technology workforce by guaranteeing IT workers jobs with the private sector team now handling the agency's technology support. If the maintenance jobs had been eliminated, it would have marked the first layoff in agency history, because there were no plans to guarantee maintenance workers jobs with a contractor.
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