Monday, June 12, 2006

The contractor being looked as the fall guy for any problem

Submitted by Anonymous:

I applied for a job at NNSA Abq last year for a cyber-security position.
I figured I had a good shot at it as I had done this at various places
before. The people at the interview seemed to like my resume and the
fact that I could answer a couple of problems they were seeing etc. The
people seemed pretty smart, but I noticed that they were all pretty new
to the jobs themselves (the senior person had been their for 6 months).

The end point of the interview was my salary requirements. I gave them a
ballpark of 60k subtracting over 30% from what I was making at LANL at
the time. I was told that was considerably more than any of them were
making.. my guess was that the people being paid to watch the gates are
getting 30k to maybe 40k a year. I then got the low-down of why I
wouldn't want the job at DOE-HQ. The job was highly political with the
contractor being looked as the fall guy for any problem. DOE person
brings in a laptop with a virus.. the contractor takes the fall. DOE
person mails off a document on the wrong network.. the contractor takes
the fall. Etc etc.

Looking at the contractor job-ads and talking to a couple of people who
worked there gives a story that you get out of school, get a job there
to put it on your resume, and then quickly find a job that pays better
in private industry. From talking to people at other DOE/NNSA sites..
this seems to be typical. You hire in someone to meet the "we have a
cybersecurity technician" checkmark, you tell them to watch the little
red light but not bother them if it goes off, and you hire another one
in 6 months when that one quits.


I'm absolutely shocked...!
I suppose anonymity has its place, perhaps when there is a reasonable fear of retribution and some important truth must be revealed. In general though, anonymous personal attacks show the character flaw of cowardice. Anonymity also brings out a certain viciousness among those so predisposed, which is how I would characterize an anonymous attack on complete strangers in no position of authority to retaliate. Let’s see if I understand this - Mr. Anonymous, certain that he was the obvious best candidate for a cyber job at the NNSA ABQ (Service Center), must explain his non-selection with a conspiracy theory of “contractor fall guys” that impugns the integrity of the federal staff and the capabilities of the contractors who support it. And he even posts it on the Internet for anyone to read! Brilliant! Maybe next we’ll be reading about his impotence – can’t wait to see on what organization he places that blame.

I would be wiser, no doubt, to cautiously avoid comment, since who knows where an anonymous attacker will stop? Perhaps response is unnecessary, I tell myself, because I know that most LANL blog readers will rightly distain the anonymous post of a self-admitted loser passed over for a job, and so little harm will be done to people I respect. But Mr. Anonymous' brand of self-aggrandizing fantasy irks me, so I take the bait. And since my conscience does not allow me to skulk anonymously, like some jackal biting the legs of a wounded animal, let me mention that I am not employed by the SC or its contractors in any capacity. I have no role in its hiring practices nor do I have any insider knowledge of any hiring decisions. BTW, I’m only guessing that Mr. Anonymous is male – just because it sounds like male whining – but I have no actual knowledge of Mr. Anonymous’ identity. That I do not know him makes me very happy.

I do, however, have personal knowledge of the hardworking and responsible cyber people at the Service Center, both fed and contractor, who probably would not feel comfortable posting on this forum in response. Like cyber people in many places including LANL, they labor together under challenging circumstances, often without proper appreciation, except with nothing even remotely approaching the security resources available to the national labs. Mr. Anonymous did somehow manage to get one fact right – an accident I guess - it is difficult for the federal organization to compete with the labs for talent, when salaries and benefits there are better and resources on the job are far greater. I have seen some IT people move from the federal organization to the labs, though not as many as you might think. But that’s just the salary structure in Albuquerque - and certainly NOT some kind of perverse proof that NNSA ABQ scapegoats its contractors and they flee for comfort in the bosoms of the labs. Ple-eeeese!

Finally – the mandatory disclaimer. These are solely my views, and not the views of any employer, past or present. If my views are foolish or wrong, as they have been far too many times in my life, that reflects only on me, and not on any past or present organizational affiliation.


Mike Meyer, Albuquerque
I am sorry.. I didn't mean it to come across as anonymous personal attack. My first paragraph should have been edited away before I sent it. I was trying to give my qualifications of why I had been talking to people beyond meeting them at McDonalds and seeing how the dirt was.

After I told them my salary requirements, the contract interviewers told me that I was too far out of the park for any offer to be worthwhile. We then went out to the smoking area outside of the DOE building and that was where I got the 'dirt' on what DOE/HQ was like working for which watching the overpopulation of rabbits before Fall set in.

What was said in summary:
1) The Federal people there seemed to have their fiefdoms like anywhere else.. and depending on which Fed walked into the office at what time they might be given contradictory work until it got ironed out usually after they

2) As a contractor, you are paid a low wage, and not expected to be there long. Several of the interviewers last fall said that they were just there until they could get somewhere else that paid a bit more. From what I have seen at Sandia, CyberSecurity students supposedly get paid as much as these CISSP people get paid. Most of them were waiting to head out of NM as soon as they could.

Maybe I got 4 people who were very disgruntled.. but it was what I was told. I collaborated most of the data from people I have met in cybersecurity/inspector general jobs in Albuquerque.

Why am I anonymous.. because I currently want to be. I would not expect people to take anything I wrote on face value because of it. If I had signed my name as Maria G Baca.. with a picture of me and my cat.. would that make it anymore trustworthy? No.
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gruntled Guy speaks the truth of the NNSA SC in Albuquerque. You almost have a one to one ratio of contractor to federal emplyees. Also the pay differances between federal employee and contractor is approximately 50% differance. The NNSA brings in small 8 A's that have no experiance along with their low wages and benefits and bullies these contracting companies.

I had worked at the SC at one time and found it to be a very hostile place to work. You are constantly under the gun because the federal staff is so afraid to take a risk or even make a decision. You are micro managed by the federal staff day in and day out. Your opinions don't count because you are a contractor.

So Gruntled Guy you made a wise decision in not coming to the SC because what those 4 employees told you was the truth.

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