USAID's fiscal year runs to September 30. Any money not obligated by that date goes pfft, back into the Treasury. So, the last week of September usually sees a frenzy of contract awards.
And why doesn't USAID plan ahead, and award these contracts in June, July and August? I truly have no idea. One would like to think that the world's largest development assistance agency, a multibillion dollar body with half a century of experience, would be a better planner than an eighth grader frantically scribbling his homework on the school bus Monday morning. But whatever the reason, the last week of September is usually interesting for us.
Case in ppoint: this year, USAID awarded the follow-on contract to BIZCLIR.
BIZCLIR was the contract (or, to be technical, the contract vehicle) under which I did a lot of my short-term professional work over the last three years. My trip to Senegal? BIZCLIR. To Tanzania? BIZCLIR. Uganda, Zambia? BIZCLIR yet again. I did a lot of non-BIZCLIR stuff (Congo, West Bank, Macedonia, a bunch of fiddly analytical stuff for the IFC) but BIZCLIR was the baseline.
So I'd been hoping that USAID would award the new BIZCLIR contract (which for some reason is called BEAM, but is universally referred to as "the BIZCLIR follow-on contract") either to my previous employer or my current employer. Either would be delighted to deploy me on new BIZCLIR assignments. While that's not my first choice -- I really want a stable, steady job somewhere -- it would be a nice fallback. Basically what I did for almost three years, except as an employee, with health insurance and stuff.
Not this time. USAID awarded new BIZCLIR/BEAM to a dark horse -- a small, relatively obscure bidder with (seemingly) no relevant experience. Nobody can quite make head or tails of it.
I can reach out to these guys to let them know I may be available in (glances at calendar) another 90 days or so. But they're so small and obscure that I don't even know anyone there!
It's not exactly "back to the drawing board". But it means it'll be harder to count on the short-term stuff as a fallback.
Other people's job searches are generally pretty boring, so let's move along and talk about something else.