FilterMountain View, CA
I worked at USRA full-time (More than 5 years)
You get to work on NASA projects without the career benefits of civil servant employment.
No one has any expectations of you working for the company long term.
If you are a woman, veteran, or a minority, this is a good way to build relationships with NASA civil servants who could support your job application to NASA.
You are paid well to obey your real bosses - ie NASA civil servants. God forbid if you disagree with NASA's project mindset.
Work here if you enjoy seeing your peers within NASA advance through the ranks. Cheer their successes while you morn your failure to advance within USRA.
This company is all about generating profits from NASA contracts. Many years ago, people in DC wanted to reduce employment liabilities - ie retirement benefits - so they massively increased contractor staff within NASA. USRA is one of those companies.
USRA doesn't really sell a product - you are that product. They re-sell your time and effort and markup the cost of you and your benefits to NASA. NASA , in turn, will rebid contracts so what work USRA has one year, they may not have another year. If you stay with a certain contract - say a science or engineering contract - you lose. You lose seniority, wages, benefits in a big race to the bottom.
Do NOT use these position for anything other than short term assignments.
Do NOT use these position for working on any NASA mission in development which could be cancelled the very next year.
USRA will very reluctantly support any continuing education for you. You will never gain any business in-sight. You will never learn anything from the company unless you invest in yourself.
Advice to Management
Great to see government retirees gainfully employed - again.
Working at NASA on an astronomy project is exciting.
The engineering culture is geared to checking the boxes rather than making the system work. Steep personal sacrifices are expected. The President has proposed cancelling the project. The Inspector General's report is very negative. Merit increases this year are minimal. The office mood is very cynical.
I worked at USRA full-time (More than 10 years)
If you want to work at a NASA Center this is probably a good way to do it. A better way is to apply directly for a civil service position. Spending time as a support services contractor is pretty much a dead-end position. The only real way to get ahead is to leave and join another contractor body shop.
As a contractor you are treated as part of the team when it's necessary and excluded on all other occasions. As a way of decreasing the governments commitment for retirement and health care benefits, the civil servant pool has been drastically reduced over the last 30 years. To make up for the shortfall in manpower, a number of bodyshop contracting organizations have been created. This company is one of them. When troubles in NASA rise the typical approaches to blame the contractors. If you're up for this by all means take a position here.
These companies also serve as a lobbying arm for federal programs. Inherent conflict of interest is that they are lobbying for programs that they benefit from correctly.
Advice to Management
This assumes of course that they would even listen.
I worked at USRA full-time (More than 3 years)
Working closely with NASA.
Flex working hours.
No opportunities for career advancement within the organization. No professional development. Management needs to better communicate with the employees instead of intercepting their emails.
You have flexibility in working hours. You sometimes have the possibility for telecommute.
A relatively large number of managers. Managers make decisions and listen to each other only.Managers are paid to maintain their management positions. Employees are not involved in the way the place is managed. The way the tasks are distributed to the employees are not always appropriate. As an employee, you are often given tasks for which you are overqualified.
No opportunities for professional growth and no challenging work.
Not a family friendly place.
Managers do screen and intercept employees personal emails.
Great deal of personal flexibility while working for Uncle Sam.
You are hired to do a job. Management is highly compensated for expanding the business and increasing revenue. Your job is to keep the customer happy. There is no opportunity for advancement within USRA. Use this position as an opportunity to feather your nest and move on to the next position.
Advice to Management
HR development would help in improved customer service.
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