I have already told you of the bad experience with the newly-established US office of a foreign company to make stuff for the government. Now let me continue on with the newly-established DC area office of the US company to deliver services to the government.
The preface to this story is that I remain idealistic about compliance and ethics, but not blind to the fact that businessmen are in business.
I had just finished doing consulting work for DOE on an amazing financial management assurance system for them (the project was rejected about 2 months before it was complete – 2 years into the process). Along came a Compliance Manager position for a company that was only about 30 minutes away – my shortest commute ever at that point.
I will make a long story very short and say that the first 9 months was tough under a manager that was 1000 miles away and had never heard of government contracting until I came along. Then, under local management it just got ethically out of control. Pricing was coming from seemingly nowhere. ISO certification was completed, but not upheld daily. Compliance was reactive instead of proactive (at the point at which I came on board the company was 1 1/2 years behind on their small business subcontracting plan).
I finally gave up after a long internal discussion of morals and ethics.
Me: Are you feeling humble today? Self: Yeah, they mention that a lot don’t they? Me: They do. Are you feeling it? Self: Well… Is that how it’s supposed to be? Me: I don’t think so… Hey, I noticed that ISO certification on the wall. Everyone seems so proud! Self: We have the certification on the wall, but the last time I tried to do a corrective action… well, you remember, right? Me: Oh yeah! By the way, did you get that SF294 filled out? Self: We really need to get on eSRS.
The conversation went on for hours, but I won’t bore you with the details. I had enough of the overall non-responsiveness to true compliance and lack of transparency to the parent company. Just because the parent didn’t understand didn’t mean I shouldn’t fill them in on what was going on. I had to move on before I ended up on the bad side of one of them – oops, well, at least I got out. Fortunately, I found a company that was trying to make the compliance function easier and more interactive.
I now have the ability and resources to help compliance and contract managers across the world to do more and better things in a more efficient and effective manager. I have been able to help with The FAR Matrix Tool, GovCon awareness through this blog, and 2 other projects that are soon to be released. Not to mention I have a backlog on my whiteboard of no less than 3 projects I would like to get on the fast-track.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and not every experience is like mine. I encourage everyone to take some time and think about their own story – share here if you get some time during the slow holiday season (notwithstanding the fiscal cliff). I always like to hear the stories and insight they bring.
See you next year!