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Well this is depressing.

I'm young (26 yo) with about 3 years of 1102 experience. I thought I was lucky to "fall" into a pseudo-internship that got my foot in the door. I chose contracting because it seemed to be a relatively stable career field with excellent promotion potential. It was this or the financial industry, and I chose the lesser of two evils. Vern Edwards lamented in a previous response about people choosing contracting for the promotion potential. I'm not sure what merits one should base their chosen career on but I'm not going to feel bad about sticking with contracting to obtain a higher salary and possible pension. I plan to hang around for a few more years to see if attrition works in my favor but I'm already burnt out.

Hi Red138- compared to most other fields I consider gov contracting pretty stable. I was 12 years on the private side and while it could be very exciting- it was volatile, totally money driven, and I left a very good spot to come to the Feds. If you wait long enough attrition will occur as it always does. One thing that is tough when you are so young though is gaining perspective. This is pretty hard to obtain without moving around a bit. At this early point in you career I would suggest being as mobile as you are able/comfortable while avoiding getting locked down. In my opinion, locking down on a career at 26 is akin to getting married at 16!

One great thing about being an 1102- there is lots of mobility within the Government besides the parallel private industry spots. This is not the case with the bulk of Government job series. I think back to my father who spent 40 plus years in DOD working as a nuclear engineer and had very limited options.

If you are in a civilian agency maybe consider spending time in a DOD agency. GSA can also be a good place to spend some time. Everyone uses 1102's. If you consider hopping off to the private sector for a while, maybe forever (how can you be sure) then the one thing I would suggest is to obtain you level 3 certs first in case you want to come back to the Feds. Much easier.

Good luck!

One last thing- everyone's burnt out nearly everywhere. I was when in private sector, I am again now at DOD, everyone in my family is, the folks working around me are....hope to God not but might be the new normal..

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Looking back when I started as an 1102 and comparing that to today is like night and day. 1102's used to be viewed as that very seasoned professional that used special skills and experience to craft a well written contract. They performed extensive proposal reviews and analysis and negotiated to get a fair and reasonable contract award amount. They knew what every contract clause said and meant, largely because they incorporated every one themselves as part of the contract through a conscientious decision making process and without automated tools. The CO was regarded as the sole expert on the contract by both the government and the contractor.

Today an 1102 is largely a buyer. They issue multi-million dollar delivery and task orders instead of preparing elaborate solicitations and contracts. They are expected to do things fast. Even when they do solicitations, the automated tool pulls the provisions and clauses into the document. Fair and reasonable pricing occurs through competition or comparison of prices with some standard. Negotiations largely don't occur, often because of fear of protests and the notion it adds time they don't have.

But that doesn't mean the work can't be exciting and challenging. As I mentioned in a prior post, contracting people can fill a major void in assisting program offices fulfill their mission. By learning the program they support, they can weigh alternatives and identify the most suitable method of acquisition whether it's a new contract, use of an existing IDIQ contract or GWAC, acquiring through another agency, buying from GSA Schedule, or use of simplified acquisition procedures. Many 1102s are leading the way or at least being a valuable team member in identifying savings through such means as strategic sourcing. Other 1102's are assisting and new acquisition methods such as use of Agile development for IT and reverse auctions.

Still there are lots of good contracting opportunities if people are willing to change jobs. Many of the major "system" buying agencies are looking for new people. Some of the DoD agencies that contract for R&D are beating the bushes trying to find new employees. GSA is constantly trying new things like the current OASIS program and is searching for people to both devise the acquisition strategy but help implement.

The thrill and excitement is there but it's just in a different form.

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Looking back when I started as an 1102 and comparing that to today is like night and day. 1102's used to be viewed as that very seasoned professional that used special skills and experience to craft a well written contract. They performed extensive proposal reviews and analysis and negotiated to get a fair and reasonable contract award amount. They knew what every contract clause said and meant, largely because they incorporated every one themselves as part of the contract through a conscientious decision making process and without automated tools. The CO was regarded as the sole expert on the contract by both the government and the contractor.

Today an 1102 is largely a buyer. They issue multi-million dollar delivery and task orders instead of preparing elaborate solicitations and contracts. They are expected to do things fast. Even when they do solicitations, the automated tool pulls the provisions and clauses into the document. Fair and reasonable pricing occurs through competition or comparison of prices with some standard. Negotiations largely don't occur, often because of fear of protests and the notion it adds time they don't have.

But that doesn't mean the work can't be exciting and challenging. As I mentioned in a prior post, contracting people can fill a major void in assisting program offices fulfill their mission. By learning the program they support, they can weigh alternatives and identify the most suitable method of acquisition whether it's a new contract, use of an existing IDIQ contract or GWAC, acquiring through another agency, buying from GSA Schedule, or use of simplified acquisition procedures. Many 1102s are leading the way or at least being a valuable team member in identifying savings through such means as strategic sourcing. Other 1102's are assisting and new acquisition methods such as use of Agile development for IT and reverse auctions.

Still there are lots of good contracting opportunities if people are willing to change jobs. Many of the major "system" buying agencies are looking for new people. Some of the DoD agencies that contract for R&D are beating the bushes trying to find new employees. GSA is constantly trying new things like the current OASIS program and is searching for people to both devise the acquisition strategy but help implement.

The thrill and excitement is there but it's just in a different form.

This is pretty much what the older employees were talking about with me. They complained that the 1102 field has become so automated that it may not really even require a college degree. I agree that we are now largely "buyers" for lack of a better term. Most of the younger and newer 1102s at my agency perform duties similar to the ones above. Seems like we use GWACs and existing IDIQs and other vehicles because everything is rushed.

With that said, my agency has lost a massive amount of experienced folks in the last year due to retirements. Hundreds of years of combined experience walked right out the door and wasn't retained, unless you count the one retiree that came back as a part time contract adviser. In all, the one thing I did notice was the animosity between the older and younger 1102 employees when it came to the pay scale and promotions. The older employees complained that it took them decades to reach GS 14, when many of the younger 1102s were reaching 14 under the age of 30, yet they weren't working on anything different than the older and more experienced employees. Maybe that is just my agency though...

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MotorCity: It is not just your agency.

Even in such a short span of 10 years I have seen a great change in the 1102 program. Interns come on board in a GS-7/9/11/12 position and reach GS-12 at the end of the three year internship. This internship is usually performed within the same office, rotating between sections, with a 3 month rotation outside the agency. They are required to achieve their Contracting Level II.

I find a few expect to get any GS-13 for which they apply and are vocally very disappointed when they are not selected. These same few think they know everything and are real resistant to self motivational improvement and learning. These few often fail to ask pertinent questions, fail to meet deadlines, and periodically alienate peers, supervisors and management.

It is the most exceptional intern who knows that he/she must acquire varied and more complex experience before most agencies will consider him/her for selection to the GS-13 level. Most know that those of us who are more seasoned with varied experience are usually eager to share our knowledge and experience to guide and mentor.

The Federal Government's dependence on automated systems for things like clause usage and the almost guaranteed graduation from each DAU course attended is contributing to the "dumming down" of the 1102 field. What happened to applying logic, planning, reading, understanding, inquiring, deducing and other fundamentals of business? More checklists, templates, form letters, etc. I am concerned.

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  • 4 months later...

Hell no.

After 18 years, the only joy I get out of the career field now is showing people how to fish. In other words, how to research, analyze, and understand....so that they can challenge positions and defend their own.

No one "manages down" anymore. Our reward systems are broken, and we seem to incentivize the wrong behavior, as the self-serving typically rise to the top.

If we want to shift the paradigm of half-baked contracting "professionals", we no kidding have to find a way to promote....no.....DEMAND hands-on, long-term grooming in this field by managers. And if they lack the skills to teach others to fish (or are too absorbed in their own career progression), then we need to send a message to them on just what type of behavior we need by kicking them to the curb.

But that will never happen. Time to cut bait.

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