Changing Jobs during a Periodic Reinvestigation


#1

I’m a contractor with a TS. I submitted my SF-86 in e-QUIP for a PR a couple of weeks ago.

The contract I’m working on ends next June and I’m not sure whether or not my company will win the re-compete (don’t think the contractee has been too happy with my company).

Due to the backlog and wait times, I know it is unlikely my Tier 5 PR will be finished in less than a year before the contract ends.

I asked my FSO what will happen if they don’t win the contract next year and I am let go. She said that she will not “close” the PR and will leave it open for me until I find another job (she said within reason like a couple of months or so). She said this is not uncommon and that she would simply transfer the PR to my new FSO in JPAS. She said as long as there is a “home” for me then it’s not a problem. She said that the time between I am let go (i.e. the contract ends) and find a new job would not count as a Loss of Jurisdiction. She said she has handled incoming employees in the pass who were in this position. I also asked if employers were reluctant to hire people who are in the midst of a PR and she said in her experience they didn’t have a problem with it.

I’ve read a bunch online how it’s not a good idea to change jobs during a PR but what about if a contract ends and I have no choice? Does the info she provided above sound correct?

Also, what if I decide to change jobs before the contract ends? Does the same sequence of events apply?

Any info and/or insights would be appreciated.


#2

If a new company wins the contract, the normal process is what I refer to as a “shirt swap,” the new company gives the incumbent (you) the right of first refusal. The winning companies always find a way to determine if the client was happy with the person filling the position. It can result in them offering more money or a better deal. Some times it doesn’t work out like that and they offer you a lowball, because they want you to voluntarily resign. If they found a person equally qualified and acceptable tot he client, and if they accepted a contingent offer less than you make…there is no incentive to pay you more. That is the shady side of contract work. I’ve lived this life for almost 16 years now and have worn three different shirts. The new company would then accept the PR on you and you continue if you worked a good deal acceptable to both parties. Since you are in access, you continue even if out of scope. But if you leave the position, and are out of scope, once you get out of access…it can get hinky.


#3

Thank you for the reply. Honestly, even if the new company lowballed me I would hang around for another year or so (or however long it takes) at lower pay to wait and see if my clearance is renewed. I could always change jobs after that if I wanted to. At this point making sure the PR continues is my priority.

Forgive my ignorance, what do you mean by “in access” and “even if out of scope.” Also, do you know if there’s a possibility that the new company would see that I’m in the midst of a PR and not accept the PR and not offer me the position? Or is the right of first refusal like a mandatory thing? I know the client has been extremely happy with me personally and would definitely want me to continue in the same position if another company wins the contract.


#4

It gets fuzzy defining those terms, but I will try. Nobody possesses a “clearance,” but it is close enough shorthand to say “I’m cleared,” instead of " I have eligibility." I see it as asking for a Q-tip vice cotton swab. You know what you are trying to communicate and I understand what you want. In “access,” means you have the successful BI, favorable adjudication, work in a cleared position and have access to classified. Should your BI go longer than 10 years for Secret and 5 years for TS, you are already vetted, working in the position…you simply continue a if nothing is different. However, if you left the cleared position by choice, termination, or promotion to a non cleared position, your eligibility is then “out of scope,” and you may not cross over to another cleared position without a brand new, meaning long wait clearance SF86, BI, adjudication all over again. I see that a lot. There are multiple cleared companies, they do not stay on top of BI dates. If the employee leaves, and the company ends sponsorship…the BI is no longer good enough to get another cleared position, so they must be re-investigated. If the client loves you (often the case), but doesn’t care for corporate management (often the case) you should be fine. I have been there. You are free to talk to anyone bidding on your position and negotiating a deal. But if they found a person with similar credentials, acceptable to the client, you can be the odd man out if you do not accept the rate of pay offered, which is no higher than what they could get the new guy/gal for. At times government clients can be strangely short sighted and not understand you will not continue if a new contract is let. They act dumbfounded and surprised and then must deal with this issue of training a new person, passing on corporate knowledge, etc. That is entirely on them. I saw entire offices walk off instead of sign with a new lower compensating company. Strength in numbers so to speak. The contract ended up being pulled back, re-awarded to the original holder, and they paid the other company to go away. Very expensive. In this case the client could not survive without the team knowledge and depth of experience. If a contract is based on Lowest price technically acceptable…the worker usually loses. But that proved to be a race to lower performance. And over time clients realized hiring a cheaper company meant bringing in more junior people, less experience, polish and ability. So negotiate away, be bold. See if you can arrange a soft landing if a new company wins.


#5

This helps a lot. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain and share your experience. I guess I’m digging in and staying in this position until my PR is finished whether or not my company wins the re-compete.

Sometimes it feels like contractors are seen as disposable line items and that we don’t have much recourse. The right of first refusal sounds like it’s one of the few things we can lean against. I read up on it here:

https://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%2022_12.html

It states: “the successor contractor and its subcontractors are required to offer those service employees that are employed under the predecessor contract…a right of first refusal of employment under the contract in positions for which they are qualified.”

There’s a exception though that states: “are not required to offer employment … based on the particular service employee’s past performance or has failed to perform suitably on the job.”

So as long as I keep doing a good job and the client likes me I should be good to go :slight_smile:


#6

Suggestion: If you want to keep your job, be proactive. Get a copy of the current contract that your company has with the agency. Also, you should get a copy of the solicitation and/or resultant contract. Usually, you can find these on fbo.gov. If you have a direct relationship with the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR), you can get it from COR plus more. It is even better if you have a relationship with the Contracting Officer (CO/KO). Anyway, you will want to look for the clause under the Subpart that you mentioned (usually under Section I or Section H).

Even with the clause, don’t assume that you will remain if you are doing well and the client likes you. Contracting professionals with the Feds could care less about that. Just be proactive, and you will be fine.