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  1. It is encouraging to know that what I've been seeing is not the norm. The shop I'm currently on my way out of has historically and continually had a massive turnover--for a variety of reasons. I think that jerking people around on Level 2 certification (and denying them opportunity to broaden experience) has been a misguided attempt to reduce people's mobility to private sector and other agencies.
  2. Yes, the response from legal to me was in writing. The only feedback I got from my chain during this whole thing was that it was taking too long and it needed to get awarded. Another question I had for my chain that never got answered was how to compete it, the RA had a very specific gift card provider they wanted. I saw those older GAO reports from around 2008 that were a little softer on gift card purchase, but still required a specific statutory necessity, and the gift cards as an explicit part of the program. Newer decisions are more emphatically saying no to cards that are only incidental to a program, not specifically essential. Reference from 2012: https://www.gao.gov/products/D02888 Consumer Product Safety Commission--Purchase of Gift Cards B-323122: Aug 24, 2012
  3. Thanks everyone for the responses, To address some of your points and questions. The package that was submitted to me was incredibly weak for something requesting a dollar value of 6-figures worth of gift cards, so I tried working with the requiring activity to find out more about the requirement and their authority/justification for such a purchase. Also, for accountability purposes, how they would track the cards and where and how they get distributed. I wanted to make sure that I'm not signing my name on something that's going to be a free for all cash grab on the program side. The answers were incredibly weak and there was no tracking system in place. I tried working with the Requiring Activity on these things for an extended period, and it never got better, if anything it got more murky. Yes I wrote my legal and regulatory findings and submitted it up the chain. I expressed my concerns about the program's shaky justification and lack of planning for accountability. My chain of command squirmed and told me to contact our QA. I did that. QA got back to me very quickly, telling me to go ahead, it's fine, nothing out of the ordinary, no need to contact legal. That last part seemed odd to me, so I contacted legal anyway and was told a firm no. I guess me "killing it" was me simply saying I'm not comfortable with signing this so I'm not going to sign it and it not going anywhere. My chain didn't say anything to me. No one up the chain said, "This is perfectly fine. I'll sign it myself." I'm not gonna hold the bag on it, and I guess my bosses don't want to either.
  4. To me, gift cards are a clear fiscal appropriations violation. It's like buying cash. I look at the law and GAO decisions and I see that gift cards would only be allowable, maybe, in a rare and specific situation where there is a statutory requirement for a particular specific program, and the gift cards are essential to achieve that statutory responsibility. It's a very narrow scope. So I get a package for gift cards that does not in any way fall within that narrow range of acceptability. I as a CO would not sign a procurement of gift cards at any dollar value, much less a high dollar value. Wouldn't touch the package with a 10ft poll. Even as a CS just pushing the paper, I wouldn't want my name on that thing. But there is immense political pressure to make things like this happen. Our "QA" staff said it was perfectly fine, said there was no need to contact legal. I contacted legal anyway and they said no way is this buy okay. I got scolded for "jumping the chain". Despite the stinkeye, I killed the package. I would expect our leadership to kill things like this, instead of passing it down to us and hoping we'll do it so that they can be a good politician and get head pats. I cannot do 1102 work in that environment. Is this common? Are there shops out there that actually encourage and facilitate good contracting?
  5. Hi All, One thing I've been wondering about is how other agencies handle FAC-C certification. It is an explicit condition of employment to be level 2 certified within 2 years of hire--that's in the USA jobs announcements and in our PD. My understanding of how that works is people meet the academic requirements, complete their FAC-C training, and get certified immediately to meet that condition of employment. So here, people complete all of their required training, submit their Level 2 paperwork, and then get told by our agency that they don't have the "breadth of experience" to be worthy of Level 2 certification. My shop is notorious for keeping people in limited roles on a particular product line, not letting them change teams, and then denying these people Level 2 certification for YEARS, based on the rationale that their experience is not broad enough. For a while, access to training was severely limited to the point where it would take people 3 or 4 years to get Level 2 classes done. They tried doing that to me. I completed training, submitted my paperwork, was denied, and I was like "hold up, this is a condition of employment and I completed the requisite training. How can you not certify me?!". I had to argue and fight hard to get Level 2 certified. They're not accustomed to people doing that. They gave in and certified me. How does that work at your agencies?
  6. formerfed, Thanks for the response. For family reasons, it will be at least 9-12 months before I could relocate. Which is inconvenient because I need a workplace change asap. Anyhow..... When I'm able to relocate I could see myself going anywhere west of the Rockies, but especially anywhere on the west coast from San Diego to Seattle, Arizona, or New Mexico. I would definitely welcome suggestions for decent shops in these areas so I know what to keep an eye out for.
  7. formerfed, I think the arrangement you describe from your last gig is ideal. Occasional overtime to meet a specific and attainable objective--I would not mind that at all. It would be great to have procurement people assigned to specific program offices to get to know the programs, the buys, and the people. Where I'm at, we never have had the staffing to do that and we are in a very high volume production environment. So PRs flood in, get triaged and divided among how ever many procurement staff are available. We do crank out awards like machines out of necessity. It's definitely tiring and not conducive to quality contracting. Staff turnover is the biggest challenge. There are reasons for it that have everything to do with management. There's always a short-sighted management strategy of being as oppressive and bullying as it takes to pound people into submission. and hopefully make them produce. It never works.
  8. DWGerard, Thanks for the reply. Here, they don't directly make the OT "mandatory" per se because that would be against the union contract. Instead, we're workloaded such that to do our workload and get a "fully successful" performance rating, requires that we "volunteer" for OT. Aside from the threat of poor performance ratings, they will also take away perks, such as compressed work schedules and telework, from people not doing sufficient OT. This has been my only experience in the 1102 series, and it's really left a bad taste in my mouth for reasons that go beyond just the workloading issue. It's been over 2 years now. I'm FAC-C level 2 certified. I'm at the point where I'm ready to move on to private sector or a better federal place to work. It's good to hear that there are decent federal shops out there, because I really would like to stay a federal employee if I can.
  9. I'm west of the Rockies. People from GS-7 through GS-12 leave to go private sector for more money, but also for work-life balance in the form of a standard 40 hour workweek, and a better work environment, and in doing so give up the telework that our shop offers. I'm just about at that point myself. The telework has been the only thing keeping me federal, but the crazy overtime, the work environment, and workload are starting to wear on me.
  10. I do just as much work at home as I do in the office (which is alot and that's why my management allows me to do it). I often find myself doing more at home because I'm not distracted. But I'm very self-motivated and self disciplined. I'm probably in the minority. I have coworkers who slack at home, but they are also the ones who slack in the office. Where I'm at, our management does not like offering telework, but it is the main thing they have going for them to try to retain people. My coworkers are continually leaving to go private sector and make 30% more, albeit with less telework flexibility.
  11. Hi All, So where I'm at, our end of year crunch actually begins at the start of Q3. Tensions and anxiety start escalating right about now in mid-March. Gentle urging to do overtime starts in mid-April. By May-June, management is beating on us and we're working overtime. July through mid-October is crazy and the demand for overtime is insatiable. There are strict leave restrictions between July 1 and mid-October. So for almost half the year a 40-hour workweek is not realistic. I basically like the work. I'm good at my job. I don't mind working some overtime to accomplish the mission. But I'm feeling the burn where I'm at right now. To me a reasonable crunch time would be between mid-August to October 1. Is what I've been seeing normal? Is there any place to do contracting in the federal gov where a 40 hour work-week is standard throughout most of the year.
  12. Hi All, The shop that I work in fully workloads COs, and on top of that has them reviewing/signing for several other people. People burn out, especially COs, and there's a high turnover. Is this normal? Do your shops do this, or do your COs focus their time and energy more on reviews?
  13. I'd rather not say. Doesn't matter at this point. Feel free to delete this thread. Some of the above responses actually reinforce a decision I just made. Thanks.
  14. Actually, people from this command have recently been sentenced to time in federal prison. I guess they weren't into "buzzwords" like ethics, transparency, or legality getting in the way of their mission. I guess some people's accomplishments were disrupted. I found that out after I started. Lesson learned-I should have done my homework before taking the job with this org given the black eye it has. As far as the command wanting to hide their work to that extent, that looks really bad. If they're being legal and competent they have a terrible way of showing it. When things are hidden and people are warned not to ask questions, that limits learning and it calls the leadership's technical and professional credibility into question. Are they ashamed of something? Otherwise why wouldn't they show their work to new staff to train us and show us how it's done? I was approached that way within my first 2 weeks of starting the job. I wasn't out to challenge them. I'm still not. I want nothing to do with them after seeing the secrecy and lack of leadership. They have a high turnover rate, and I'm next out the door. Problem solved for everyone. I'm sure they'll eventually find someone who's a good fit.
  15. Thanks everyone. Vern, I was told that I shouldn't even try to look at the contract because "it didn't end well" for the last person that examined it and questioned them on it. I agree, it's ridiculous and a total jerk move on the part of that upper manager. And he's a jerk. Go figure. But that's the vibe at this command. I said "sure" and started looking for another job. I don't work that way. As far as the example I gave, that was in regards to an above the SAT notice of intent to sole source. I see a general avoidance of publicizing things, despite the benefits of stimulating competition to lower prices. I observe that part of the reason is a cowardly fear of protests. I'm new to federal contracting/procurement and to the FAR, but I'm not new to working on contracts in lower levels of government. I actually do have enough background knowledge and experience to justify being judgmental. I think we have a fiduciary duty to be as transparent as possible in our dealings. It's just a very different environment that I'm not digging. From what I've seen I regret making this move. I totally get there are better fed environments to work in, I just wish my first fed experience had been in one of them.
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