This month marks my 15th anniversary of being a government contractor, mostly for the Department of Defense. I’ve learned and grown a lot as a government contractor and I have enough experiences to fill a book, or two. There are some things I wish I would have known, so I will share them with you.
I had a decade of private sector experience before starting as a government contractor for DoD. I found a challenging, often frustrating, but never boring introduction when I arrived at the Pentagon for my first assignment.
Although I had been married for more than a decade to an Army Reserve officer, I was completely unfamiliar with military culture in the workplace. Here is a list of some of the most glaring differences:
TIME KEEPING RULES
Direct hire employees in the private sector have more flexibility when it comes to time keeping, schedules, and leave. Federal contractors have very strict rules when it comes to reporting hours worked to the government. Most private sector companies allow their direct hires to telework, something government contractors are often not allowed to do. This reminds me of my experience with a former federal employee turned contractor who was astonished to realize that contractors are often held to different rules than their federal counterparts. In her previous role she enjoyed the 59-minute rule, but as a contractor she was not entitled to leave before her scheduled time. This was a difficult pill for her to swallow. She quickly realized government contracting is not the same as being a federal employee.
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