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Meet Debbie Downer

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If you're looking for an uplifting blog, this isn't going to be it.

I debated back and forth whether to post anything at all. There has been so much negative energy lately. But the bottom line is that I need to talk. I need to get some things off my chest that have been eating at me all day.

Last week, the government responded to a proposal we submitted in August. This particular agency has a reputation for only entering into negotiations with firms when they are serious about making a contract award. In this case, we're talking about a significant contract value--up to $23 million over 5 years. When they entered into negotiations with us, given their reputation, we were thoroughly encouraged. We had submitted a damn good proposal, full of ideas, innovations, and carefully measured strategies for helping people with mental and substance use disorders in a reformed health care environment. We worked so hard. And things looked so promising. We have several staff that we had been hoping for a long time to promote, to advance their careers, to give them much-needed professional development. And in this economy, we were facing the prospect of being able to hire about 10-12 FTEs. It was an exciting prospect.

But then the bad news arrived this morning. We didn't win it. Instead, the government awarded the contract to one of our most despised competitors. I sat here and cried like a little girl. Why did we lose? Our price proposal was way too high. This was a new procurement. There was no incumbent contractor, so we had no intelligence about arriving at a reasonable and competitive price. Our competitor, however, was a different story. They proposed a project manager who (Surpise! Surprise!) just happens to be the wife of a very senior official at this government agency. So they knew where their bid needed to land fiscally. We didn't.

Sometimes the government is so incestuous.

So, a $23 million opportunity is gone. All that work, all that thought, all that strategizing... wasted. Just because none of us share a bed with the right people.

And it doesn't give us a wealth of confidence going into the recompete of our largest contract, worth $70 million over 5 years, with the same government office. The jobs of 90 employees are on the line. And we're going into it completely gutted. Just gutted.

I apologize for being Ms. Debbie Downer. But I needed to get this out.

I will rebound. I always do. That's my nature. So don't worry about me. I'll be fine. Thanks so much for listening.

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  1. ponchi101's Avatar
    After not seeing work for the whole of 2010, this was certainly not the blog to read. But it also was. It reminds me of how tough things are out there. It reminds me that it is not going to get any easier. It reminds that I am not alone in going at it alone.
    It reminds me that rebounding is not an option. It is an imperative.
    Man, would I like to seat down with you, have a beer, and share stories of corporate filth with you. And thank you for reminding me that tomorrow, I must rebound.
  2. dryrunguy's Avatar
    Ponchi, I'm thrilled that you found inspiration in this.

    Let's schedule an e-beer to strategize that rebound process.
  3. shtexas's Avatar

    Don't ever think twice about getting something off your chest if the need arises.
  4. patrick's Avatar
    Glad you are able to share it with TAT.
  5. Kirkus's Avatar
    I have to ask what I think is an obvious question. Doesn't the fact that the proposed project manager is the wife of a senior official at the agency constitute a conflict of interest? How was the organization she works for even allowed to offer up a bid?

    That doesn't just sound like bad luck. That sounds like unethical business practices.
  6. Jtdrum10's Avatar
    So sorry, Dry. I'm glad that you were able to share this with us; it is important to stick together in negative times.
  7. nelslus's Avatar
    Welcome to our wonderful world of government contracts, Kirkus. Here in Chicago, we all are on pins and needles with Mayor Daley's leaving- and ANY opportunities for city monies to FINALLY open up- after so much real funding has been held onto by the city for decades. This kind of nepotism happens ALL the time. So much depends on relationships, "friendships" and politics. And what are you gonna do? Sue folks? Organizations just are not going to take a lawsuit on, with all the years and money that would be involved. And, good luck ever getting government contract business again then. It all can be a horrible recurring cycle.

    SO sorry that you are going through this, dry. Believe me, I understand. AND, as I know you know, now ya gotta find a way to fight like hell for that 70 million. Just hang in there.
  8. morct's Avatar
    That sucks dry, unfortunately it happens everywhere, but that doesn't make it any easier.
  9. James7's Avatar

    The lesson here, clearly, is that you need to be sleeping with more people to ensure contracts. Or did I miss the point?
  10. dryrunguy's Avatar
    Kirk, yes, it's unethical. But it's very common. Her husband was not on the review panel or involved in negotiations. That would be a conflict of interest. But there's no doubt he knew the target contract value and was able to whisper that to her in their little den of iniquity. James, I've tried to get the firm to hire belslus as a consultant. That would solve everything. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement. Today is a better day.