Working at PEC
1998 - 1999

After leaving Bell Atlantic Video I went to work for Performance Engineering Corp. (PEC).  PEC was a small company of couple of hundred people but highly technical.  PEC focus was mainly on highly technical, and thus high profit margin, contracts with the government.  PEC hired me mainly because of my image and graphics experience but also because of my software development experience.  PEC had won a contract with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to develop an image system for the scanning, storage and searching of ATF cases.  They had just won the contract and needed someone to head the team to develop and install the system.  I was brought on to head the team and had four very junior level programmers.  Two of the programmers were 19 and just out of home school.  The other two were were a few years older.  Well we developed the system and installed it at the ATF.  The ATF staff then started scanning case documents into the system which would the do an image to text conversion which was put into a full text searchable database.  It was quite interesting to put searches for things like bombs, gang names, towns and see what came up.

When I was hired the director told me they were in a bit of trouble on this project as they won it and had started on it but then then they found the team wasn't really up for the task.  He told me that they expected me to finish the project and that they were not really concerned about the budget, just successfully finishing the project.  He said if we were successful then it would lead to new and bigger projects with the ATF.   We finished the project and it was successful but when it came time for my first review I got a lot of criticism and bad review for overrunning the budget.   I was astounded!! I mean what could I say, the project was successful, the ATF was happy and the director had told me that the budget was not a concern.  I wrote a scathing letter to my manager about this and sent it to HR for the record.  The following year I received a glowing review. 

After the hat first ATF contract PEC had several others in the works but nothing really active at that time. For several months I would work a bit on one project or another.  At one time I spent a week going to the ATF to scan documents.  The management expected me to bill my time to a project and not overhead but they didn't give me any real projects to work on.  This is the way it is with contract work.  You soon find that if you don't get assigned to a new project within a month or so you will get laid off.  Well that was enough for me so I started looking again and got a job at America Online, AOL.

Larry 9/7/2008

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