May 2024 | Issue #28

Office lobby featuring a logo on the wall with a circle and a "C". In front, Darth Vader.

CEO Michelle Constant and son wearing Star Wars costumes.

Now that we have finely honed our Wordle skills (thanks Brea!), we transition to May, a critical point in the year for our company. Not only do we get to celebrate May the Fourth Be With You and Revenge of the Fifth, we prepare for the closeout of key SLTT grants and position for the end of the Federal fiscal year. On the SLTT side of our house, this means that our team is vigorously working on grant aligned project closeouts while spinning up to new projects slated for Spring/Summer timeframe.

 

On the Federal side of our house, it means that we are preparing for the use of end of year Federal funds (read: new and expanded work!) alongside the release of the Federal budget following CR-related postponements. In a nutshell, we expect a sprint over the next few months, decorated with highly anticipated client-facing projects. We also have a number of internal initiatives starting – AI guidance, cyber response planning, quality management planning, and quality of hire assessments.

 

I continue to be inspired by the sheer creativity, enthusiasm, and grit of our team. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to making our world a safer place.

 

Speaking of worlds, the above pic is of my son Xavier and I from 2016, ready for a Star Wars themed costume night.

 

In Service,

-Michelle Constant 

 

"Welcome to CONSTANT" set on a half circle dark blue background with light blue border

Christopher Kelly, Federal BD Associate

CONSTANT employee Chris Kelly in front of a marina background.

Chris Kelly will be supporting federal growth initiatives at CONSTANT, leveraging a successful career in business development with a strong focus on the Aerospace and Defense sector. 

 

A Birmingham-Southern College graduate with a BS in Business Administration, Chris has a proven track record of securing federal contracts and navigating the intricacies of government procurement. Prior experience in management consulting, and corporate strategy allows him to develop targeted solutions that meet both federal mission needs and CONSTANT’s goals.

Imperial storm trooper at the annual Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village New York. Photographed October, 31st, 2008 in the USA.

CONSTANT's May Birthdays

Happy Birthday to our Maybies. Get it, May. [ba]-bies….!

  • May 6th – Alex Meyer
  • May 9th – Sloan Grissom
  • May 19th – Brea Dees
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Droids circling a space type environment

These are the Droids (Opportunities) That You're Looking For

Business Development by Jeff Philippart, Business Development Director

The end of the federal government fiscal year (FY) is September 30th, but our clients (and prospective clients) must make decisions soon on how they want to obligate the funds on the FY24 budget. The recently approved budget increased funds compared to FY23 for some agencies like DOD and HHS, while other agencies such as DHS saw a slight reduction in their overall budget.  
 
Either way, the agencies must obligate funds before the July/August timeframe since that is when any remaining funds will be “swept” up into a larger pool of available funds at the agency level. Their goal is to have the contracts in place before the end of September to allocate this money.  
 
For CONSTANT, this situation creates an opportunity for us to support federal clients, share our expertise and experience, and initiate projects with some of this funding. As an 8(a) business, CONSTANT can receive a sole source award up to $4M. Agencies are incentivized to award sole-source 8(a) contracts as direct awards accelerate the procurement timeline, result in lower administrative costs, and cannot be protested, resulting in a streamlined process.  
 
Jedi mind tricks are not required to find end of FY opportunities! As we approach upcoming months, continue to engage with our clients and partners, listening for project opportunities that could use these end of year funds and provide innovative solutions to a client or partner’s most pressing needs. Your client interface is invaluable to understanding challenges and pain points, along with our partners’ gaps and requirements for assistance. Please reach out to the Business Development Team should a potential opportunity come your way that could be enhanced by a white paper, capability briefing, and/or proposal.
 
For our state and local folks, different states have different FYs. In the states of California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Washington for example, the FY begins July 1 and ends June 30. This gets further complicated, however, in states like Washington where most cities and counties have a FY from January 1 to December 31 despite the state operating on a different timeline. For more variety, New York’s FY runs from April 1 to March 31 and Texas’ FY from September 1 to August 31.  
 
This means that we can be proactive in identifying state and local opportunities that may arise as agencies need to spend or allocate their funding. In addition to crafting white papers, capability briefings, and proposals/quotes, we can also build initiatives to expand our state and local work into project conduct through development of a Next Steps Report and Closeout Presentation. 
 
Such a report or presentation during successful project closeout can summarize work that has been performed on a project and also position the project for ongoing attention. For example, if a plan has been developed, the Next Steps Report could introduce opportunities for training, exercises, community outreach, etc. related to said plan, or recommend how the plan could be expanded with annexes/appendices, job action sheets, etc. This shows our genuine interest and investment in maximizing the impact of our projects on agencies and their communities. 
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The Force is What Gives a Jedi Their Power

Operations by Jayson Kratoville

How our instincts differentiate our work.

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, the end of Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope featured a high-speed chase down a trench on the side of the Death Star. The target was a small thermal exhaust port approximately two meters wide (no bigger than a womp rat). An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia indicated that a precise hit—and only a precise hit—would start a chain reaction that would destroy the battle station. During the attack, Luke Skywalker was encouraged by his mentor to “use the Force” rather than rely on his targeting computer for the near-impossible shot. It worked, the Death Star was destroyed, and everyone but Chewie got a medal.’

 

To all our chagrin, the Force is only a mythical plot device for a space opera that is superior to Star Trek (that’s right, I shot first). The triumphant finale of A New Hope is, however, a good anecdote for the power of instinct. Our clients come to us with some of their most difficult challenges, which can often feel like a trench run in outer space. Like Luke’s targeting computer, our processes, systems, and standards provide a good overall scaffold for the work we do. Our professional instincts differentiate how we apply those systems to the needs of our clients and their communities. Here are some tips:

 

Build instincts through experience—the more we experience different projects, challenges, clients, and subject-matter, the more we build up our instincts. This takes time, practice, and an openness to feedback and learning from mistakes. “The greatest teacher, failure is.”

 

Trust your instincts—each time you write a section, build a graphic, run data, or make a decision, take a step back and reflect on your instincts. The product may have met all the check boxes; but does it make sense? Does it meet the needs of the client? Will someone else understand it if they read it? Does it truly add value? “Feel the Force around you”

 

Ask for help—know when you may need someone else’s instincts to ensure a product is what it needs to be. Project Sponsors, SMEs, and more experienced PMs can be a great resource. “Pass on what you have learned.”

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Time to Ele-Vader P&C

People and Culture by Maggie Peters, Director of People and Culture

Summer Summit: Our Summer Summit is just around the corner! It will take place on Monday July 29th and Tuesday July 30th. Do you have an idea or recommendation of what you’d like to see, hear, or learn about? Please let Brea know! Many of our team’s ideas have been used before to refine past Summit sessions. We’re starting our planning sessions now because it takes a lot of collaboration to make a great event focused on what you need and want.   

 

What motivates your P&C Team?: We have just brought on board Alyssa De La Cruz as our Sr. HR Business Partner. Alyssa is already acclimating to our processes and systems, and will be instrumental in our Recruiting and Onboarding processes. Your P&C Team’s intention (what gets us up in the morning) is to make a meaningful difference in your life. We do this by leading with empathy, reinforcing trust, ensuring you feel heard and valued, and being advocates for learning and development. We care about your well-being. We provide guidance, management development, benefits, policies, and whatever it takes to support you. These are the things that are at the forefront of every decision, every policy, every change, etc.  If you have ideas or suggestions, we want to know. Plop time on our calendars and let’s map it out!

 

Pulse Survey Coming in May: Theme: Team Connections. Let’s face it, working remotely has its pros and cons. One of the cons is that it can feel isolating at times. We are wired to connect on a personal level, and while Teams and Zoom are great, they don’t quite cut it with personal interaction. Our next anonymous pulse survey will focus on what we can do to ensure you feel connected to each other, your manager, and CONSTANT as an organization.

 

Great Place To Work Annual Survey: Speaking of surveys, our annual Great Place To Work Survey is coming this summer. It is anonymous (as usual) and will have +60 questions for you to tell us how you feel about anything from EDI, compensation, benefits, culture, you name it. We cannot stress how important it is to hear your perspectives on these areas. We consider each recommendation to continue to build the best company you would ever want to work for. More information will follow and please, participate in this survey!

 

GlassDoor Reviews Requested: We want CONSTANT to be your dream job. We see that the people who thrive here have a few things in common: They have a positive disposition; they have a growth mindset; they are adaptable; and they are passionate about the work they do. We are pretty much always hiring to add to our talent due to growth. Please post a positive review on GlassDoor when you have a moment. This platform is so important for us to continue to attract quality candidates like YOU!

 

Professional Development: Having a growth mindset to being the best you can be is a differentiator here at CONSTANT. We have over +150 courses [including paths and certificates] that can fit your needs for continued growth. Check it out: https://learning.myisolved.com/.

 

Important May Dates: 

  • May 3: Payday
  • May 10: Manager’s Huddle (8 am PT / 11 am ET)
  • May 15: Submit Timesheets  
  • May 20: Payday
  • May 27: Memorial Day Holiday
  • May 28: Monthly Staff Meeting (9 am PT / 12 pm ET)  
  • May 31: Submit Timesheets

Benefits Highlight EAP Highlight:  We recently posted the 2024 EAP Wellness Calendar on the P&C SharePoint site (under Benefits). We care about your wellness. That’s exactly why we provide you with a multitude of resources, insurance plans, and programs to help you with this thing called life. Whether it be professional life or personal life, there are resources available to help you navigate the tough stuff. Don’t wait until you ‘need’ it, check this out so you know what’s available. You’d be happily surprised!

There are so many resources available, please check these out on Uprise Health using code 70101.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

EDI by Co-Leads Manny Rodriguez and Maggie Peters 

We have several cool updates to share progress on our EDI journey. We have joined the FEMA HBCU Special Interest Group which meets monthly. We have also conducted outreach to the University of Southern California (USC) with the intent to partner in supporting our Higher Ed [HE] Internship Program. Kevin Koller is the Point of Contact with the HE Intern Program.

 

We have also recently renewed our MOU with the DOD SkillBridge Program. This program supports service members transitioning out of the military to civilian work life. Dan Smith is our Point of Contact with this program.

 

We had 100% completion of our required Anti-Harassment Training so GREAT JOB for keeping us in compliance and more importantly, staying aware of ways to continue our culture of belonging, equity, support, and awareness.

 

Each of these actions is directly aligned with our goals to do outreach in a way that supports our strategies of Assess, Aware, and Enable.

 

Finally, in our March quarterly meeting, we have mapped out the entire 2024 with educational articles provided by our team members for each month this year. For May, Sloan Grissom and Charlene Kvech collaborated on an important article on Jewish American Heritage Month. You can find it under Documents > General > EDI Resources > EDIT Educational Articles. Thanks to Sloan and Charlene for a very insightful article!  And thanks to all the volunteers for writing these important articles so we can continue to learn together! It was so great to see everyone pitch in and fill the educational calendar with articles they wanted to contribute.

 

Reach out to Manny and Maggie, EDI Co-Leads, if you need to assist a client with their EDI efforts or how to incorporate EDI into our engagement.

 

Next Meeting: Our next EDI Committee Meeting will be June 26th. The meeting is linked on the Staff Calendar. All meeting presentations and educational articles can be found on the P&C SharePoint site under the EDI Committee tile.

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May the Force Be With You... and Your Wallet

Finance By Loretta Pascuzzo, Sr. Accounting Manager

May the force be with you….. and your wallet!

 

Save your Imperial Credits and reach for your FSA card when you need to stock up on springtime essentials! 

 

Battling the dark side can take a toll on your skin. Sunscreen and moisturizer can be purchased with your FSA card so you are prepared for any trips to Tatooine. Electrolyte mixes can be easily stored in your Galactic Starcruiser for all of your future adventures. 

 

If you prefer to spend your FSA credits on a droid, I have just the one you may be looking for. The Oura Ring | FSA Store (think smartwatch but in ring form) was a hot 2023 fitness gadget. This is a great fitness gadget for those who do not love bulky watches. The Oura Ring has a heart rate tracker, blood oxygen sensor, and a skin temperature sensor along with other features. Disclaimer the Oura Ring is not intended to detect or identify any dark side forces or Sith. 

 

Remember that you have until 1/31/2025 to use all of your 2024 FSA funds. Spend wisely and have great adventures!

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Welcome to the IT Side

Information Technology By Morgan Forrest, IT Manager

The Force is strong with you all yess! This month we want to discuss some upcoming policies on the horizon and some Teams news!

 

We are currently in the final phases of drafting our Jedi Constat Cyber Hygiene and Cyber Response Policies. These will help to strengthen and protect our IT infrastructure as well as our client’s data.  Do not worry! “For this is the way”

 

I plan on getting with a few team members to do some sessions, planning, and assessments. Be on the lookout for that in the future!

 

Now on to the Dark Side, the Sith Lord Microsoft has been working on Teams. They are separating it from the Force (Microsoft365) into its own entity. “I got a bad feeling about this”

 

Microsoft Teams has been updating almost daily, which has been causing some issues with slowness, as well as camera functionality.

 

Here is a tip, always check to see if “Update Teams’ is on the settings bar. If it is there, go ahead and update. The Microsoft dark side has been notorious for making apps or operating systems sluggish when an update is out. Use the desktop app vs the browser version. If you do use the browser version, please make sure it is up to date.

 

As always if you need any IT assistance, please submit a ticket to the Technology Hub Comm cent. Please protect this message from the Dark Side! Vader’s goons are everywhere!

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May The 4th Be With Whom?

The first person to send the correct answer to Brea gets a prize!

 

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Our mission is to make the world a safer place.

It’s that simple, and that’s why we are here. We have a strategic plan for the next three years, called CONSTANT Strategy, which outlines what our biggest priorities are:

 

  • Take care of our people
  • Forward our mission
  • Respond to our clients’ most pressing needs
  • Expand strategically across markets
  • Build infrastructure for the future

To help us execute on our mission, we have developed the CONSTANT Credo and our aligned core values (see the graphic below). We live by these.

CONSTANT Credo

Constant Credo 20th Anniversary Version

We appreciate all of your hard work as we continue to grow. We hope you enjoyed reading this issue of CONSTANT Connections! We are open to any ideas, suggestions, or feedback on CONSTANT Connections. Please submit your ideas to Brea Dees.