A pair of contracts may help the city's largest private employer get a little bigger.
Officials with Arlington, Va.-based Pearson Government Solutions said Monday that their Lawrence call center had been selected this month to service a two-year, $4.9 million contract with the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Pearson spokesman David Hakensen said the Lawrence center, located in the East Hills Business Park, early next year would begin fielding telephone calls from workers across the country who had questions about filing a workplace discrimination complaint.
Hakensen said it was too early to determine how many jobs the contract would create for the Lawrence center.
"It is still premature to assess the full impact, but I can tell you we're thrilled with the contract," Hakensen said. "It is a nice win for us because it is a new federal government agency for us to do business with."
Pearson operates a variety of telephone hotlines for several federal and state agencies.
In Lawrence, the company's 1,700 employees handle hotlines for Medicare and the U.S. Department of Education's student financial aid program, among others.
Hakensen said the Lawrence center also could receive work from a seven-year, $73 million contract with the Centers for Disease Control. The contract, which Pearson received this month, will consolidate the CDC's hotlines.
Hakensen said the project wouldn't begin until next year. Decisions on where the work will be placed and how many employees will be added likely won't happen until early 2005.
Pearson operates four other centers in addition to the Lawrence location.
"That contract probably will have an impact on all of our centers," Hakensen said.
Staffing decisions for the EEOC contract also are expected to be made in early 2005, Hakensen said. The EEOC contract is part of a pilot program by the commission to improve its customer service after it received complaints of unanswered telephone calls in its 51 field offices across the country. If the pilot program is successful, the commission can extend Pearson's contract for three more years.
Pearson's bid for the EEOC contract faced opposition. The union that represents EEOC employees had said it feared job losses within the agency, but agency officials denied that would happen. The union also had concerns that private call center workers would not have the expertise to handle complaints.
"We have every confidence that we'll be able to meet all the requirements," Hakensen said.