Chickasaw Nation Industries Inc., the government contracting arm of the Chickasaw Nation, is in negotiations to run information technology operations at Savannah River Site. You heard me correctly, the Department of Energy is planning to outsource its 200-employee IT department at SRS to the Chickasaw Indians. I say hats off to 'em for moving beyond tobacco outlets and casinos. Top brass at Washington Savanah River Co., SRS's main contractor, notified employees last week that the Energy Department that talks are in progress. The Energy Department had already put the installation on notice that it had planned to outsource IT (which includes everything from computer security to cellular service) along with the heath/human services and transportation/mechanical departments. As you can imagine, the people at SRS already employed in those departments are concerned their wages and benefits will be cut when, or if, they become employees of Chickasaw Nation Industries. After all, that's precisely why the government outsources things, so it doesn't have to pay government wages and benefits. Like most tribal enterprises, Chickasaw Nation Industries is an 8(a) (that's government-speak for a minority-owned business eligible for set-aside contracts). It employs about 2,000 people and is headquartered in Ada, Okla. If you're interested in learning more about the Chickasaw Nation or its businesses, you can go to www.chickasaw.com and read a nice letter from Chickasaw Nation Industries' very non-Indian looking president, Deryl Wright. By the way, can someone tell me why these 8(a) companies always seem to have white guys in charge?