Hi, Branwen, it's not just in DoD-contractors are sometimes treated that way in other Federal departments and agencies, too.
After working as a contractor at the EPA Headquarters Library for just over a year, I left to go to library school fulltime. With my shiny, newly-minted MLS, I returned to the EPA Headquarters Library almost a year to the day. About a week after my return to the EPA, I ran into one of the federal employees who worked in the branch that oversaw the library's contract as we were both arriving for the day. He asked me where I went on vacation, and if I had a good time-even though my desk was literally feet away from his, he didn't realize that I was away for a whole year or that I had left to go to grad school!
This is a funny example, but it illustrates the divide that sometimes happens between federal employees and contract staff.
Another example, however, was the very productive and collaborative partnership that developed working with my COTR, James King, when I managed a contract that provided library staffing at the NIH Library.
Many of us in SLA benefited professionally and personally from working with James through SLA, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that even in his capacity as a COTR, James viewed our fed-contractor relationship as a partnership, and we derived mutual benefit from a respectful and trusting relationship.
Yes, James was special in every way, but my experience working with James, I hope, serves as an example of how the public-private relationship *can and should* work.
And, ha, you should hear some of my experiences working as a vendor. Talk about being treated as a second-class citizen! I've had to sit on the floor of a hallway floor for over 30 mins while my COTR wrapped up her "quick call" with her tennis instructor; apologize to my CEO for our customer's "forgetfulness" when we arrived for a meeting with her and she "forgot" that we were coming but asked that we take her out to lunch instead of meeting as planned; worked through the library's strategic plans with my COTR while she absent-mindedly colored in an adult coloring book; the customers who always scheduled my library training at lunch and asked me to take them out for lunch because they missed lunch due to the training; the time I arrived at the security gate expecting to meet my COTR who (again) forgot I was coming (three days after my knee surgery), asked me to wait at security until she could meet me at the gate, and then NEVER showed up or called or emailed to explain why or to apologize....
But, then again, as a vendor, I've benefited from working with some truly wonderful and inspiring feds, and enjoy some amazing friendships with folks who at one point were my customers, so it all balances out!
Jill Konieczko, MLS
Digital Marketing Manager, Emerging Markets & Latin America (EMLA)
36 Apennine Rd., Pittsburgh PA 15239 USA
Follow us: @Scopus | Scopus blog | @SciVal | @Pure
Division-Cabinet Chair, Board of Directors
Special Libraries Association (SLA)