When Your Company Loses the Contract
What happens when another company wins your contract?
In 2011, the company I worked for lost a big contract. I think it was actually the hugest government contract in America outside of the military. It was the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal) contract, worth $1.6 billion over ten years.
My company was HP Enterprise Services. The new company is Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS), a Dallas-based unit of Xerox Corp., in a partnership between ACS, Xerox and CGI.
When our group got the announcement, we were all bummed. We'd all lose our jobs. However, the new company needed people, so there was a pretty good feeling that many of us could be hired at the new company.
In fact, within a few months, we were all invited to a hiring event/open house hosted by ACS. They wanted everyone to apply. At the open house they took down our names, asked what position we currently held, and asked what our current salaries were.
No one was thrilled about it. Basically we'd all have to re-apply for our same jobs at the new company, but there was a community feeling of "We are vital to this operation". Our current jobs were disappearing, but our skills and knowledge were still vital.
In fact, I wasn't sure how it could be done. The Medi-Cal contract required a huge daily batch of medical bills to be processed. There couldn't be a two-week shutdown while the new company took over. Luckily, both companies had about a year to prepare. This was the plan: Some key people, perhaps 10% of the current workforce would leave HP and start at ACS, setting up systems and processes in anticipation of the changeover. As the changeover date approached, more and more people would transition to ACS until they officially took over the contract and hired whoever was left wrapping up Medi-Cal business at HP.
Temporary workers would help ACS prepare for ramp up. Similarly, in HP buildings, temp workers would be used to do the work
of the missing people. New initiatives were postponed, big projects were put on hold.
Almost everyone I worked with... Actually, I think everyone on our 16 person team, interviewed at ACS. Not everyone interviewed for their same position, figuring if one had to change jobs, one might as well go for a more desireable position. Slowly, my co-workers started to leave HP. They didn't all go to ACS. My manager, for example, took another job within HP.
After a few left, it was getting harder to get all the work done, so we started hiring temps.
Here's where the story gets interesting.
HP was hiring temps to replace the missing workers, many of them on month-to-month contracts. ACS was also hiring temps. There was even an agreement between HP and ACS that they not hire too many HP veterans at a time, as doing so would leave HP without enough experienced manpower to get the remaining work done.
Unfortunately, the HP temps weren't part of this staff-transfer agreement.
We at HP (actually Leda) found some great temps, but we couldn't keep 'em. As soon as HP had a temp trained for Medi-Cal
systems, the temp would put that medi-Cal training on their resume and apply for a job with ACS. Unlike what they were getting
from HP (a dead-end temp job), ACS would offer them a full-time salaried postion.
ACS was poaching our temps.
This introduced two problems for me:
#1) Our team at HP had a hard time getting all of our work done.
#2) Positions like mine were getting filled at ACS, and I was still stuck at HP.
After three of our temps were hired at ACS, I seriously started questioning if there was going to be room for me.
By October it was clear, there wasn't. Despite interviewing twice, and training several temps who went on to work there, I was not offered a job at ACS.
This sucked. I did my best to secure a new job inside and outside HP. It was extremely stressful and at times felt pretty
hopeless. Luckily, I qualified for severance pay with HP, so when my job was finally dissolved I had financing through a two-month dedicated job search period.
I brought the family to Disneyland, reframed my marketable skills and kept applying for work. Eventually I found a job at Intel in Folsom just about the same time HP offered me a new job building UIs for Medicare in Texas.
It worked out well for me, but I definitely didn't predict the path it took to get here.
Good luck Medi-Cal temps!
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