Investigator Churn and Burn


#1

Just heard a disturbing fact today... Approximately 25% of OPM investigators from one of the prime OPM contractors have quit or were fired at some point during the past 12 months. Do the prime contractors get paid additional money from OPM to train new investigators? Are they burning through investigators in order to collect a pay day from training the new ones? If not, why wouldn't they make valid retention efforts? #confused


#2

Just curious as to what contractor these were from and where the information came from.


#3

This information came directly from management and was shared down the chain. The turnover rate (resignations divided by current# of employees) equals 25%. They had to layoff reviewers because so many investigators left.


#4

This doesn't surprise me at all. I'm one of the ones that left KGS after many, many years. The contract was getting nuts and it wasn't worth it anymore, especially with the other opportunities out there with direct contracts. I couldn't get a case to go through without an RZ and I've been in the OPM game a long time. The reviewers were untrained and picking on the most insane, unnecessary things. Totally not worth the money.


#5

So, for the first two classes at the OPM NIT in slippery rock, PA this year, the class of 20 before mine was entirely contractors converting to federal. My class, was of 15 and 3/4 were contractor conversions. I heard the class after mine was mostly contractor conversions. My last two months at KGS I could not get a case past review without an RZ. I have been federal for several months and no RZ's. I have been doing this for almost 8 years and i had periods of time with over a year without an RZ and starting in the summer of 2014 when they hired all the USIS reviewers and new to the game reviewers everything got kicked back.

Bonuses were pretty much eliminated, acd's can't be changed (simple email to the boss as a fed), if you get a RZ as a fed if your boss does not agree with it, it does not count against your stats because your boss grades yous cases here.

KGS was an amazing place to work at for so long and it went to crap so quickly. look at the new glassdoor reviews over the last four months. went from a 3.3 rating to a 2.2 i think in less than a year.


#6

Mdcontint hits the nail on the head. That is exactly how it went down and why so many people got out or are getting out of the game.

I've spoken to two close friends in the past month who are both 1099 trying to find non-OPM opportunities.

It's crazy because the fed side of the game is very efficient and quality is extremely good. Not so much on the other side of the fence.


#7

Still curious if the prime contractors get additional payments for training new investigators?

Is there a possibility they push the old ones out the door, get paid a juicy bonus to hire and train a newbie, pay the newbie 36k to obtain just one source unit less a day then the 55k investigator.

Seems like a potential conflict. Any thoughts on if I'm far off?


#8

I am really trying to understand the mentality of why they are doing what they are doing...Do they just want full time employees to convert to 1099 employees by making them miserable?

I seriously doubt they get paid to train new investigators. Unless things have changed, when I came on keypoint had to foot the bill for all the training expenses.

I think what upper management is doing is churning out the cases to maximize profits, get paid out massive bonuses, then let the company implode like what happened with USIS, get attached to another opm contractor, repeat the process.

I have no problems with a company making a profit....but this is outright greed at this point.

Keypoint has fired all the workload assigners and is using an automated system to assign all work to full time employees. Sure it failed miserably with USIS but what does that matter now?

Praise the lord I am so happy I converted to federal this year.


#9

I wish I could have switched over. There were many postings but my family did not want to move so I never applied. I just don't believe how there is such a disconnect. I keep thinking back to the post article when the FIS director went on record indicating he had no clue how performance is measured at the contractors. I think the OPM IG should probably audit the entire operation. At this pint how do we even know if it's more cost effective to use the amount of contractors we are using over FTE? Not to mention my reinvestigation was submitted at the beginning of the year and they just started it. I think the fed side needs to grow more to better balance this thing out.


#10

I think even something as simple as the Feds taking back reviewing of the competed reports may be an improvement. Maybe letting the contractor still review for simple coverage and giving the Feds the responsibility to review for content. From what I gather, contractor review is much more stringent and ridiculous than the Feds so a lot of reports would probably actually go through unchanged. And a lot of contractors (myself included) get fed up with the constant unnecessary corrections and get frustrated enough to leave.

Plus when you add in the fact that KGS gives bonuses bases partially on quality- and you can't argue reopens- that is also a huge problem...

I'm actually still surprised KGS is staying afloat. The USIS-ification of the company is very, very concerning.


#11

@discrepant; @Contractor

Here is the problem with OPM in general: They think they are everything and that their sh*t don't stink but in all actuality it stinks more than anyone else. They lose 21.5 million people's personal information and then they wonder why there are professionalism complaints against their Investigators to include the contractors out there working for KGS and CACI. It's time OPM takes a long hard look in the mirror and figures out what's wrong with the way they do business with contractors and their investigators.

I'm glad I no longer hitch my wagon 100% to the OPM contract and got out on my own and began doing this independently and getting direct federal contracts instead of playing games with this one trick pony OPM and their contractors, KGS and CACI. Anyone that is still working for CACI or KGS full-time is a bafoon in my opinion. The writing is on the wall. These companies don't care about you, your career path, or anything about you. It's all about the Benjamin's. They'll throw you under the bus the first chance they get for any sort of complaint or a typo in a source's address on an integrity assurance audit. Working the OPM contract makes you feel like your constantly under the microscope and that at any point in time they can accuse you of being dishonest. Screw that. I'm tired of that mindset. Good luck to you all....I know it's not an easy business. My recommendation is to get out on your own and do this as an independent contractor. Much more rewarding. Diversify yourself and work additional contracts. Get away from the one trick pony which is OPM. Don't even think about a GS 7 position with OPM. Don't give them the time of day. Go out and start your own business.


#12

Thanks for your insights and I have to say I agree that working as a FTE sucks. I did the 1099 before but then with sequestration and the implosion of USIS my yearly income took a nasty hit. Shame on me for not being diversified. I was in process of signing up for the 5 contracts that OMNI has to supplement the OPM contract but was offered a FTE with one of the contractors. I took it because I needed some steady income. I didn't like how KGS gave me crappy items as a 1099 and then frowned on me for telling them it didn't make financial sense to do it. I really can't believe the IRS lets them have 1099 as they treat them the same as employees.


#13

Interesting stuff from everyone. I started to believe that KGS has review cover every possible disclaimer and counterfactual and IHB interpretation in order to mitigate the financial penalty from an OPM re-open. The job has gone from miserable to horrifically miserable. I had to abandon my well-honed questioning skills in order to conduct interviews with the sole purpose of meeting OPM IHB requirements (i.e., for review). And all the layers and layers of security and passcodes and passwords were apparently only effective in keeping me out of my own laptop and FWS and PIPS. And then the short yellow bus stuff like checking in and out materials, et al. I desperately want to get off of OPM work but I am so mentally exhausted and anguished I have little energy to look elsewhere. I wish some of the folks here who have found options elsewhere (e.g., Joe Hackett) would let us in on how they did it or what we can do.


#14

@dcinv

Enjoyed your post. Everything you said was spot on!!! It really is miserable working on the OPM contract..but not as bad when your working on it independently. I no longer have to care about quality...I still meet timelines but I control how much or how little I work each month. It's the only way to go.

There's really no smoking gun to, solving all the problems of you want to continue to work on the BI industry. When USIS furloughed everyone about this time last year, I had a lot of time to think and ponder about what I was going to do. I no longer could put any trust in an OPM contractor after the lies. USIS fed us for years. I had always wanted to do this independently but USIS made their contractors wait around for 6 months before they would make you an independent contractor so I stayed F/T for longer than I wanted. Actually about 3 years longer than I should have. What really helped me become educated was to join the association of certified background investigators. Go to acbi.net. It's a $50.00 annual fee but it was well worth it and the best $50.00 I ever spent in order to start networking with other IC's in my local region. I found out that there are direct federal contacts that pay very well to include mileage. I also found out through talking with others that there are many other contracts and background investigation work that is done through ATF, FBI, and the State Department. They are very good contracts. Over $37.00 to 50.00/hr. They just don't look for retired feds or former FBI agents..they want qualified experienced FI's. If you have worked the OPM contract for awhile you can work any contract...this OPM contract has become so damn nit picky...it'll be a breath of fresh air if you guys could work some alternate contracts. I remember when I worked for USIS and just working the CBP contract once in a blue moon was very enjoyable. The CBP contract is very complex and cumbersome just like the OPM work but I remember how easy the reviewers were to deal with on that contract. That made working anything other than the OPM contract a breath of fresh air. These other contacts are easier to work than OPM work...much easier. While you are waiting on direct contacts with the federal government, you can work on any of the 8 or 9 contacts Omniplex has, ADC LTD. of Abq, New Mexico has 3 contracts, MSM Security Services has 3 or4 contracts, and CSC ( Computer Science Corporation) has 3 contracts also.

There's no other way to work on the OPM contract than to work independently...I no longer care about metrics (especially quality since I cannot get a non issue phased PR through anyways) and I ask for premiums on my work which KGS seems to accommodate. All of you should get out on your own. You all seem like smart guys. Get a membership with ACBI...contact some local CI's in your area and educate yourself. I did lose health insurance and a 401K but I'm making better money now so I can afford this on my own. Plus, your self employed...so you'll qualify for an Obamacare subsidy for health insurance with the advances premium tax credit. I don't like being on that but if you can't afford it..there no other option. You'll have a bunch of write offs being self employed and the best thing about it is it feels liberating to not have to be 100% reliant upon OPM.

Best of luck to you all.


#15

Thank you for that great info Joe Hackett, I'm going to start acting on it today!

Btw, I wonder if the bill passed yesterday (Labor Day), which says federal contractors are eligible to be paid sick leave by their contractor companies, applies to KGS, et al., contractors?


#16

No clue. I know KGS was sued by an IC for feeling that the F/T position and IC position were too closely aligned. Still haven't found out the result of this lawsuit.


#17

The quality expectations continue to increase. That is unfortunate since review will reopen cases for the smallest errors. I am sure the company would love to see invs fail so that bonuses will not have to be paid out.


#18

Heard rumor of an article somewhere mentioning something about an overall investigator union representation type of thing attempting to be put together to try to stem the abuse... has anyone heard anything about this? I was told that it was not necessarily going to be a "union" so to say, but at least would be trying to get all investigators some better say in things than what we've currently got across the industry!

Gotta say, that if true... has certainly been long enough in the making and about dang time!


#19

One of the best decisions I have made as an investigator was to join ACBI. They keep up to date on all the happenings in the investigative world and I get frequent emails about new opportunities. I attended their conference last year and they had a panel with a lot of the agencies and organizations in the game. They also had a representative from DSS speak which I found to be very interesting.


#20

Has anyone lost team members lately? I have heard there has been an increase in resignations since many investigators have stayed on at least at year at this point.