Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Pearson secures $80 million contract

Deal adds work at Lawrence center

February 9, 2005

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Three hundred workers at Lawrence's biggest private employer are a little more secure in their jobs these days now that their bosses have landed another $80 million in work.

Pearson Government Solutions, which runs information-center operations out of two buildings in the East Hills Business Park, announced Tuesday that it had secured a one-year, $80 million contract with the U.S. Department of Education.

The deal gives Pearson responsibility for originating and disseminating $20 billion in Pell Grants and direct loans through more than 5,500 institutions of higher learning, said David Hakensen, a Pearson spokesman. The contract also continues Pearson's current work for handling inquiries about student financial aid and processing aid applications.

Of Pearson's 1,832 employees in Lawrence, Hakensen said, 300 work on contracts for the Department of Education.

"It's job security for people working on that business, because we're going to have the contract now for several more years with renewals," said Hakensen, noting that the agreement carries nine one-year options that could make the entire deal worth up to $800 million.

Pearson Government Solutions -- a division of Pearson Plc, a London-based media conglomerate -- doesn't expect the contract to boost employment levels in Lawrence "in the foreseeable future," Hakensen said.

Instead, Hakensen said, the company likely will expand operations this year at division headquarters in Arlington, Va., and open a new office in Washington, D.C.

Pearson's operations in Lawrence remain the division's largest call center, a decade after coming to Lawrence with 16 employees working under the National Computer Systems name. Today the center covers 195,000 square feet and handles more than 30 projects, ranging from taking calls about immigration processes to fielding questions about Medicare and Medicaid.

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