Monday, March 30, 2015

And suddenly, everything went back to normal

Long story short: the contract situation resolved itself and my job isn't going anywhere, at least for a while. Whew.

Long story long: quite a week last week. Of course no sooner did I post the latest update about how everything was hurtling towards the abyss than new and positive developments finally began to emerge. My government boss gathered the department together at about 3 p.m. last Monday for cake to celebrate the birthday of one of our co-workers. Towards the end of that informal get-together, she also mentioned that for those of us waiting to hear about the extension beyond the last day of the current bridge contract (Friday), she was fairly certain the extension would be finalized that day. Furthermore, she alluded to the fact that she expected the real contract award to be announced soon, once the money for funding the contract was officially allocated.

I just want to take a moment to emphasize a couple things, there. All of these little pertinent details were not things which were deemed important enough to be conveyed via official communications. If my government boss hadn't thought to air them in a very casual, off-hand way, I wouldn't have known a thing. Also, these comments about the budgetary aspect of the contract delays was the first I had heard about specific reasons why it was taking so long; up until then I really thought the government was dragging their feet about deciding at all, not that they were keeping the decision under wraps because they couldn't officially announce anything until all the money was sorted.

Anyway, so very early Tuesday morning my contracting boss sent out an e-mail saying that the 30-day extension had been granted, and we would be covered by it until May 1st. The e-mail was waiting for me when I got in on Tuesday, and had a couple of attachments I had to fill out and sign for the expedited processing of my new badge and access card to replace the ones about to expire on Friday. As you can imagine I took care of that paperwork immediately. Then, literally three hours later, we got the official word that we had won the re-compete and been awarded the new five-year contract, which would begin May 4th (the 2nd and 3rd are a weekend). Why not have the new long-term contract go into effect on March 30th and just forget about the 30-day extension which was now apparently no longer needed? Who knows? Ours is not to wonder why and so forth.

So by Wednesday all of our paperwork had been processed and returned to us so that we could take it to the Pentagon and get it countersigned and drop it off at the badge office and get new badges. I ran that particular errand on Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon I picked up my replacement access card. Friday was relatively uneventful. In about a month we're going to have to go through all the same steps all over again (paperwork completed and turned in for processing, returned to us, taken to the Pentagon for countersignature, waiting in line for new badge/card) but then I won't have to do it again for a whole year (if ever) and at least they're usually on the ball enough to get these things done before the expiration deadlines so we don't end up locked out of anything. As transitions go, certainly it's annoying but at least it's fairly smooth.

And as far as the whole "if ever" sentiment goes ... it's nice to know that my job is reasonably stable for the foreseeable future, but my job search will continue. I now feel like I can afford to be somewhat selective, and not that I have to jump from a sinking ship into the first opportunity that presents itself. Granted, given that my security clearance for government work is one of my more marketable assets, there's a high probability that I end up changing from one contractor employer to another, if another is willing to pay me more or let me develop new skills or show me more opportunity for growth or other upsides. So abandoning the merry-go-round of contract re-bids and facility identification and network access tokens and all that is far from a sure thing. One never knows, though.

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