This week I was sent an email asking if I would consider staying at Hanscom. They offered to have our 3-star intervene on my behalf to extend my assignment at Hanscom. With the extension would have been a move to a new office, working on establishing an Air Force Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) program. While I strong agree with the concept of the Air Force establishing several PaaS offerings, I didn’t take the offer.
There were three reasons for this:
- The Air Force had previously refused a request for an extension from my boss. Now, possibly, a 3-star would have different results, but we did go to that well once and came back dry.
- Most importantly, I’m burned out. I have gone through probably four to five burnouts over the past four years. I have managed to recover and to gain enough energy to keep moving, but I’ve been slowly getting weaker over time. I think I need a change.
- Lastly, I had tried to get several cyber related jobs and have been refused. I applied to be the Air Force Cyber Fellow and failed. I tried to get jobs at both USCYBERCOM and AFCYBER and failed. Okay, I get the hint… someone in the personnel system believe that it is time for me to get out of the software business.
Well, those are the three reasons I gave. There are a few others that I didn’t mentioned. One of them is that I’m up to retire in the next few years, and being out of this business for a couple of years actually increases my marketability. There are ethics laws I must follow when I retire and the most common one is a year suspension from working for a company that you have directly worked for as a government employee. Well, in some ways I’m going to be able to do that suspension while working at Eglin, so once I retire, I can go straight to work… at least if I chose to go back into this business as a contractor.
The other issue is that I don’t think the Air Force will be successful in developing a family of PaaS offerings. Our requirements and acquisition framework are structured to directly connect an operational user with a specific capability. PaaS is a common capability, but there are no agreed upon mean on how to do requirements for a common capability. Unless several AF Instructions, and the FAR is changed, any PaaS program will be inherently high risk of failure. While technically it is doable and while I believe that our leadership wants to do it, none of this will matter at my level. I’ll be left working on a program that is fundamentally broken and easily sabotaged by others (which is likely since we will need to take some of their funding). I wish the framework was in place to make this a viable program, and perhaps the necessary changes will be made if this is important enough for our leadership.
There is a downside for my decision. If I had taken the offer, I would have significantly improved my changes of getting promoted. With my experience at ESC and the expertise I bring to the table, I would have likely received a Definite Promote recommendation which translates into an 80+% chance of promotion. My move to AFRL is at the worse possible time for my promotion and it will be very difficult to get a Definite Promote from AFRL. This drops my chances to promote to under 50%. It is likely that with this one decision I just ended my career.
However, I made that decision with those facts on the table and I’ll live by them. I have been thinking about retiring for a while, so taking retirement isn’t something I’m avoiding. Had the assignment been to a place that we didn’t want to go to, I would have put in my retirement paperwork then.
Well, it is nice to be wanted and appreciated. I would like to think that I’ve made a difference here and that it will have a lasting effect even after I leave. Until then, I’m looking forward to moving to Florida, especially as the snow has decided to visit.