When I left (2 and a half years ago) things were still fairly busy. If you wanted to get a good parking spot, you'd better get in before 0730. Nowadays, a good parking spot can be had at just about any time of the day.
People tell me that there tend to be lulls in the defense contracting business. When I first started here (after retiring from the Air Force) things were booming. The old timers would tell me about the big drop-off that occurred "back in the '90s". They also predicted that things would slow down eventually. They did and here I am.
Compared to a couple of years ago, the building is kind of a ghost land. You can wander about the corridors and not see anyone. While there are not tumbleweeds blowing across the parking lot, I can visualize them being there. The lady who sits across the cube wall from me actually apologized for subjecting me to a long telecon regarding an expense account. After sitting in the dead quiet for a few hours, I told her that it was no problem, it was nice hearing actual business being conducted. It was nice to not feel like the Burgess Meredith character in that old Twilight Zone episode.
These things are cyclic I suppose. It always seems to be feast or famine. But in some ways we're our own worst enemy. When times are good and the flow of cash out of Washington seems never ending, we waste lots of money on fripperies. Hats and t-shirts advertising the name of the latest product are given out to the employees at "town hall" meetings to brief us on how well things are going. Not to mention the free snacks and soft drinks.
I know those things don't cost all that much, but hey, a little here and a little there and soon you're spending fairly large chunks of change.
And meetings, don't get me started on meetings. I've been on projects where we had a weekly meeting which had twenty people in a conference room for up to two hours with nearly everybody letting everyone else know what they did last week, what they were doing this week and what they planned to do next week. Most of these meetings were an absolute waste of time.
There was one group I remember back in the old days where all of them sat in their "War Room", all day long, every day, five days a week. Occasionally they would actually interact with each other. Most of the time they all sat there, staring at their lap top screens and tip-tapping on their keyboards. I think those folks were management. There were 8 to 10 of them on any given day. The project probably had 3 actual engineers doing the actual work.
That's something else I've noticed, the whole "War Room" concept. Seems that if a project had enough managerial and bean-counter types assigned, then they would get their very own "War Room". Basically that meant that they would get their own conference room, which no one else was allowed to use, and a cool sign that indicated that the conference room formerly known as "Conference Room 123" was now the "Agile Death Star Best Practices Lean Paradigm Team War Room". Or some such nonsense.
When you get a chance, go check out CDR Salamander's blog some time (listed in the "Stuff I Like to Read" area off to your right) and read the lead-in to his blog. The part that starts "PROACTIVELY “FROM THE SEA”;" etc. etc. The good Commander is being tongue in cheek, but there are corporate baboons who actually talk like this.
So I spent the day at the home office. Many deserted offices, many empty hallways. There are portions of the building where new construction occurred, and now sits unused. I've also been down hallways where the posters on the walls have not changed since I left. Kind of eerie when you consider that most of those posters were kind of out of date when I left. Feels like a town where everyone just up and left one day. Not to the point where the remnants of someone's lunch was still on the table, but close.