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9 Bizarre (and Curious) Government Contract Jobs


The US government is constantly posting calls for products and specialized jobs on its Federal Business Opportunities site. Here are some of the most intriguing openings and requests.


Microsoft Certified Partners

Yesterday, the US Railroad Retirement Board, or RRB, extended the date by four days to May 10 to recieve price quotes from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Certified Partners to enter into a license agreement for Microsoft Enterprise, which helps organizations standardize its IT while remaining flexible. An independent agency in the executive branch formed in 1935, the RRB administers retirement/survivor and unemployment/sickness insurance benefit programs for railroad workers and their families. Last year, the RRB distributed $11.3 billion retirement/survivor benefits to 573,000 beneficiaries and unemployment/sickness benefits of $89 million.

Next month, a Microsoft Enterprise License agreement with a Microsoft Business Partner will expire, and the RRB needs a new parnter by June 30.

Maintaining Old Books and Documents

The Library of Congress, one of the two largest libraries in the world, posted a request on April 15 for help in preserving part of its collection. The solicitation requires a business with de-acidification treatment capabilities on "a mass production level" for the library's collection of hardbound and softbound volumes along with single-sheet materials. (The last category refers to a wide range of texts, including manuscripts, archives, personal papers, maps, drawings, music scores, artworks, posters, newspapers, clippings, scrolls, piano rolls, brochures, and pamphlets.)

Book printers began using acidic paper in larger quantities in the 1850s when wood-grinding machines became available for commercial use. Before the use of wood pulp, paper producers used fibers from used textiles, called rags, in paper making. Acidic paper acquired its name from the use of the acidic compound alum, and it become popular because of its lower costs and ease of use. With the passing of time, however, acidic paper yellows and becomes brittle, especially when exposed to light, air pollution, and high humidity.

Potential contractors had until April 23 to place a bid for the job.

Maintaining Old Light Fixtures

The Secretary of the United States Senate wants to turn back the clock to 1857 and restore and electrify a 6-armed Cornelius & Baker armorial fixture acquired for the Senate collection in 2005. Contractors have until May 29 to place a bid to work with the Office of Senate Curator to restore the 19th century fixture to working condition.

A nearly identical fixture once hung in the second floor corridor of the Senate Wing of the US Capitol. Cornelius & Baker provided many fixtures for the Capitol extension, but all of the chandeliers, except for the one in the President's Room, were removed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when electricity came into use, replacing gas-powered lighting. The fixture currently in storage displays embellished figures wearing suits of armor and holding weapons; contractors will need to provide or recreate globes that once rested on the six arms of the fixture.

The winning contractor will work on the project from June 1 to December 31 of this year.

Air Force Amenities

The military does seem to treat Airmen and Airwomen well, compared to other branches of the armed service. For the past several weeks, business solicitations for amenities for pilots appear more frequently than similar requests for other soldiers.

One such solicitation posted last week seeks a juice bar concessionaire for the fitness center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska. For having the privilege of operating a drink stand similar to Jamba Juice (NASDAQ:JMBA) and selling "fruit smoothies, protein shakes, and other healthy nutritional products" for a year beginning on June 1, the smoothie bar operator will have to pay the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentality of the United States government, or NAFI, 12% of its gross revenue. This drink stand owner will be unable to sell alcoholic beverages.

Bids will be accepted until May 10.

Photography on the Borders

Last month, the government revealed which types of cameras the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, uses for immigration security purposes when it posted a request for Nikon (TYO:7731) cameras and accessories. ICE has utilized Nikon camera systems in the past; a supporting document states, "ICE training has been customized for the Nikon camera system kits currently in use." The solicitation did not state the award amount, but it did provide the 16 item models and the quantities needed, such as 15 Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Cameras and 15 Nikon 18-55MM 3.5-5.6G VR AF-S DX Nikkor Lenses.

Bids were accepted until May 1.

Looking to Buy Some Used Bullet Casings?

This final item posted last week differs from the others on this list in that the Virginia Army National Guard, or VaARNG, looks to sell rather than buy: The VaARNG wants to find a buyer for "42,000 pounds of deformed brass munitions stored in 96 drums" from Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia.

Contractors interested in turning a profit from the scrap bullet casings will have until May 9 to bid for the "US Government Property," and the winning contractor must put up an initial 20% as an "earnest money deposit," which will be reimbursed once the business removes the drums in seven calendar days.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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