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Being a defense contractor during a shutdown: ‘I’m going to go update my resume’

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Fascinating interview by Lydia DePillis in Wonkblog:

Much of the impact of the shutdown is felt by the 800,000 federal workers who are simply furloughed without pay. But the ripple effects spread far and wide, to all the workers employed indirectly on government contracts. One of them, a software engineer with a large D.C.-area defense contractor who asked to remain anonymous, described Monday night what it’s been like to work under the threat of your sole client suddenly going dark.

Lydia DePillis: So what’s the atmosphere in the office?  Day to day, you don’t notice it in the work we do. I go in tomorrow, and I know I have a bunch of bugs to fix. But there is that nagging sensation of, like, should I be looking for a new job soon? What’s going on? There’s a lot of chatter in the office. We have employees that work on the bases themselves. So they’ll work on an Air Force or Navy base. They actually don’t go to work tomorrow. They all are being stuffed into our office. So we’ve got to move chairs and tables around, because they can’t go to their normal jobs. There’s a lot of frustration, particularly aimed at the Republicans in Congress. People will say, ‘Hey this is bullshit, why can’t they just figure this out. We go to work, why can’t they go to work?’

LD: Was there some sort of company-wide meeting about it? 

We have a lot of meetings. We definitely had one around the sequestration, because at the time they were really getting into furloughing a lot of employees in the government, and a lot of those guys are our clients, so if they don’t show up to work, we have no point of contact. We can basically keep working, because we’re basically already paid. So if we have a year-long contract, it’s still going, and I’m sure the government won’t be shut down before the contract is over. So that money’s already been set aside. So in that sense we’re okay. But for example, there’s a couple of side projects that we’re trying to develop into actual contracts, so those get pushed back, or those get prolonged, someone’s going to lose money. And it’s probably going to be the government, that’s just how it works.

So for example there’s this one project that we’re trying to start up. And it’s really deep in the development phase. And we have people flying across the country, and we’re meeting, talking, and prototyping stuff. If the people who’re meeting, we can’t contact them tomorrow because they don’t work, do we pull our flights? Does the project get canceled? What do we do now? So projects that aren’t in contract form, written down and ready to go, those are the ones that get hurt. That’s a week or two of our time, and we’re going to charge them for it.

LD: Do you get the sense that higher ups are irritated or tense? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 October 2013 at 1:09 pm

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