Mixsonian Larry



My DynCorp business card

Work at on the Justice Information System (JIS) at CBIS Federal was going fairly well, I had put together a team of three senior engineers and six or eight junior software engineers that reported to me and I had another team of six engineers from a contractor company which reported to their manager who then reported to me.  Me and my team of senior engineers had made several trips to Cincinnati, at first to work on the court workflow with the court staff and judges, then a couple of trips to present mockups of workflow and data entry screens. We still hadn’t decided on the programming language for the system. We had done the screen mockups using Microsoft’s Visual Basic, which allowed for fast and flexible development, but I felt the language was not up to the task.  I preferred Microsoft C++, after having programmed in C for many years I knew its power, but it was more difficult to develop in, and I wasn’t sure the staff was up to using it. With the workflow mostly defined, development needed to start, and I wasn’t sure we were ready to do so.  As it turned out it didn’t matter.

In October of ’94 an all-hands meeting was called at work. No one knew what it was about, but it was rumored it was going to be a big announcement.  After my last all-hands meeting at ICL in which everyone was laid off, I was a bit concerned.  As we entered the auditorium, there was all sorts of speculation as to what it was about. I was a little worried when I see the VP of our group as well as several other unknown men in suits, reminded too much of the ICL layoff.

With everyone seated, the VP of our group took the stage, a hush fell, and he began speaking.  CBIS had sold its Federal Division to a company called DynCorp, he announced. It was a good thing for both companies, he explained, CBIS wanted to get out of the Federal contract work to focus on its core business in Ohio, while DynCorp had a growing Federal business in the DC area.  A VP at DynCorp then took the stage and told us about DynCorp. 

DynCorp started as an aviation services company but had considerable defense contracting services, he explained.  The main defense contracting they did was management of army and Airforce bases, like in building maintenance, janitorial services, as well as airplane maintenance, but they had had recently expanded into defense software and system contacts and had a growing presence in the DC area.

Oh great, another company buyout. After the CCI-ICL buyout I wasn’t sure this was a good thing. Also, I wasn’t too keen on doing defense work, but if I was still employed, I would give it a try. There were several DynCorp speakers, they made it sound good, all really positive.  But then came the kicker, since the CBIS Justice Information System we were working on was not “Federal”, the contract would not be going to DynCorp.  Shit! What did that mean for me?  The managers would talk to those working on the JIS system they said.  After answering a few questions, there weren’t many as everyone was in shock, the meeting was over. 

After the meeting I headed immediately to my boss’s office to find out what was to happen with me. I figured there were three options, stay with the CBIS and the JIS system, move to DynCorp in some unknown position, or get laid off. My boss welcomed me in and explained.  The JIS system development was moving to CBIS in Cincinnati, and I would not be going with it. Just as well, I thought, I really didn’t want to move to Cincinnati, but….then…. Before I could finish the thought my manager tells me that they wanted me to stay with his team that was moving to DynCorp and wanted to know if I would accept.  I would continue to be a Program Manger and they already had a project in mind for me. What a relief, of course I would accept, even if I didn’t know what I would be working on.

And so once again I made it through a company buyout. Others were not so lucky, the contract for the subcontractor team all got terminated. About half of my team were laid off, they were “try before you hire” contractors and their “try” period was not over.  I would just have to see what I would be doing at DynCorp.

Updated: 03-01-2024