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The Almighty Buck Technology

Inside SAIC 293

Posted by michael
from the desmond-llewelyn dept.
An anonymous reader submits this profile of SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, the behemoth defense contractor/research outfit/spymaster.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Inside SAIC

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  • Private Company (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Richardsonke1 (612224) *
    "SAIC is now the country's largest privately held infotech company"
    This is one company that i certainly hope never IPO's...imagine taking decisions about secret technologies to the stock holders...
    • Re:Private Company (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlabamaMike (657318) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:32PM (#5893432) Journal
      SAIC will always be a private company. FYI, they don't even allow people outside the company to own stock. While you work there you are awarded pieces of the company as part of your compensation (beats the hell outta options, IMO), but when you leave you're forced to liquidate all your holdings in the company. Given the extremely sensitive nature of their line of work I'll bet this policy will never change.
      -A.M.
      • by 4of12 (97621)

        when you leave you're forced to liquidate all your holdings in the company.

        As long as the company size is growing or stable there's no problem here.

        What, pray tell, would happen if some big contracts didn't come through and a bunch of people were all let go at the same time?

        Seems to me, with the constrained marketplace for SAIC shares, you could get a big drop in the effective share price. The people going out the door would be doubly pissed: once for having been let go, once for getting a pittance for

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I spent a year there, and was glad to leave when I did for the following reasons:

          1. Employee Ownership is a crock - since so many of the shares continually circulate - due to employees being laid-off so quickly.

          2. Since so many employees are desperate for work you've got to continuously protect your project from being swamped by SAICers like the only lifeboat at ship sinking.

          3. The bureacracy is mind-numbing. This is a big DoD company that takes forever to do anything.

          4. They bought belcore, which
        • Sell early, sell often.
      • How do they prevent people outside the company from owning stock?

        That IS powerful technology.

        • How do they prevent people outside the company from owning stock?

          That IS powerful technology.

          The stock is not publicly traded, IOW it is private stock. The article explains it in the first couple of paragraphs.

        • It's a private company. They can put whatever rules they like on the ownership and transfer of stock.
        • How do they prevent people outside the company from owning stock?


          Simple, all the stock had to be bought and sold through Bull, Inc., which is SAIC's stock trading subisdiary. Needless to say, Bull has a pretty good idea of who qualifies to own stock. Employess can keep the stock in their 401(k) plans after leaving the company.


          There are also provisions for family members to "own" stock, but that has to go on the employee's account - kind of like stock held in trust for a minor.

      • I always find it interesting when organizations dedicated to promoting the American government organize themselves using classic socialist power and investment structures (the military, SAIC, etc.)
        • I find it more interesting whe people working for these organizations think of themselves as anti-tax, pro-freedom Republicans. Odd that people dependent on the government dole are so politically conservative, and so willing to rant about "cheating welfare bums".
      • If you retire you can also hold all your stock.
        However just a few months ago they changed it so that if you quit you could hold your stock for a couple of months, in case the market did go up.
        Thier are plenty of public companies that do the same sensitive work that SAIC does, it does not matter for them. The biggest thing hold SAIC from going public is Dr. Bester and as soon as he dies I would expect that IPO talk starts getting very load.
      • I'm having a hard time figuring out how that would work. What's the value of the stock, or the company, if you can't sell the stock? I guess you can, amongst the other employees, but that's a limited market, and creates a circular system -- if SAIC ever did get in trouble, stock prices would be hit doubly hard, since stock would be worth less, and the potential market would be making less.

        Whatever it is, I don't think it's really "stock", it's some sort of limited collective ownership and profit sharin

    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:37PM (#5893484) Journal
      This is one company that i certainly hope never IPO's...imagine taking decisions about secret technologies to the stock holders...

      What, like these companies?

      Boeing [wsrn.com]
      Lockheed Martin [wsrn.com]
      United Technologies [wsrn.com]

      Being listed on the stock exchange hasn't lead to these companies (and many others like them) being denied defense contracts or them leaking military secrets so why should you expect that to be a problem for SAIC?
      • Don't forget Raytheon [raytheon.com], Northrop Grumman [northropgrumman.com] (and the former TRW [trw.com]), and General Dynamics [generaldynamics.com], not to mention hundreds of smaller contractors.

        And, lest we forget, there are thousands of privately owned companies that have stock holders, boards of trustees, etc. who all face the same issue. There are things you are allowed to disclose, and things you are not allowed to disclose. Stock holders generally don't care about the technical details of every single project that comes along. They are interested in whether it i

    • Ahem, CACI [caci.com] and many other companies do the SAME "sensitive" work, are subs and primes on the same contracts/projects, and are publically traded.

      This is such an over speculated issue that I almost have to laugh whenever it makes it's rounds back into "news". In the 90's it was 'SAIC is really the government' and 'SAIC secretly runs the government', etc.

      All SAIC does is tell the employees what their "stock" is worth without allowing a market to give them a second opinion.
    • Very little of what SAIC does is secret in nature. There are over 600 different groups within SAIC. So, I doubt that more than 5% of the company does anything classified (I sure didn't in my 2.5 years there).

      Anyway, what about publicly held companies that do work on secret stuff - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc?
    • an interesting fact about SAIC:
      at one point it was contracted by ARPA to create a company to register and manage ARPAnet domain names. that company has been spun off. it is now known as Network Solutions [netsol.com].
      • Re:Private Company (Score:3, Insightful)

        by neitzsche (520188)
        Don't lie like that!

        SAIC ***bought*** Network Solutions. Many many many years after the ARPAnet contracts. They then spun the stock off for a very handsome profit. They did not in any way help create the technology.
  • by kryzx (178628) * on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:26PM (#5893383) Homepage Journal
    One of the coolest things about SAIC is that it's employee owned. The structure of the company was truly revolutionary, and has a lot to do with its success.

    I work for an employee-owned company that is modeled after SAIC, and it is pretty cool. You can clearly see that your work is contributing to the success of the company, which is driving the growth of the stock value, which is putting money in your pocket. And we attract a lot of top-notch people because of that.

    If you didn't read too far into the article you might get the wrong impression, though. Twice on the first page they say that it's privately held, and it's only on the second page where employee ownership is discussed.

    The "invisible company" angle of this article cracks me up. Seems like you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an SAIC employee. Everyone knows about them. They're everywhere. Finding a person who hadn't heard of SAIC would about as easy as finding someone who hasn't heard of Microsoft. But I guess that's just my world. Good article, tho.

    BTW, if you are a java programmer in the DC area interested in doing defense work with a great company, send me your resume.

    • my email addr, for those who don't want to go searching my info...

      kryzx@jeh.net

    • The interesting point about SAIC is the "private market" for company shares that the company itself maintains. How well does that really work for employees who don't want to have a disproportionate share of their savings tied to their company's stock?
      • by cje (33931) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:47PM (#5893583) Homepage
        The interesting point about SAIC is the "private market" for company shares that the company itself maintains. How well does that really work for employees who don't want to have a disproportionate share of their savings tied to their company's stock?

        Well, for one thing, the 401(K) plan gives you a list of mutual funds/bonds/etc. of varying degree of risk to invest in, pretty much the same as any typical 401(K). You don't need to invest in SAIC if you don't want to (although you certainly can.) SAIC's company match is given in the form of SAIC stock, but that is hardly unusual.

        SAIC gives its employees lots of chances to buy company stock (and stock options), and it gives out things like stock options and fully-vested shares as performance bonuses, but nobody is required to invest their retirement savings in it. If somebody's got 100% of their retirement funds in SAIC stock, that's because that's the way they wanted it.
        • My question was more geared as to how that market works - since it doesn't use the public capital markets for price determination, how does the price get set in the first place?
          • That's a good question. :-) SAIC has got a broker/dealer subsidiary called Bull, Inc. that essentially operates an internal market that allows employees to buy or sell shares. The price is determined by a process too complicated for me to explain (based on performance of similar companies, other external market factors, etc.) It sounds a bit unusual (like the fox guarding the henhouse, since Bull is an SAIC subsidiary) but something must be working.
      • I can answer this from my own experience.

        I was an employee there (1988-1993). When you signed up for a 401(k), the first $2000 of your contributions and all of the companies contributions
        went into company stock.

        Once a quarter, you could trade out of company stock, but you had to take the initiative.
        If you were a high-level manager, I suppose you would have to explain why you kept selling SAIC stock.
        But I was just a programmer there and I did sell blocks of stock that were in my IRA.
        I would have made more
    • Seems like you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an SAIC employee.

      Man, government regulations are getting harsh.

  • by Blaine Hilton (626259) * on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:28PM (#5893393) Homepage
    If people are not paranoid about governments watching everything and placing every tidbit of information in huge underground databases then this is the article that will open eyes.

    I for one have never heard of this company before today and I'm pretty shocked. I've been pretty vocal about worries on TIA issues, but geeze...

    On the other hand perhaps it was better "before" when we the people didn't know about everything and just believed blindly in our government to protect us.

    • I for one have never heard of this company before today and I'm pretty shocked. I've been pretty vocal about worries on TIA issues, but geeze...

      You won't hear about most defense contractors. In truth, they are everywhere--a dime a dozen. Some small doing integration work, some immense building B-2 bombers or Eshelawn. SAIC isn't anything special, really, other than some of the other things mentioned here (employee ownership, etc.).

      If this article is any eye-opener for you, then please don't turn ar
    • I used to think the same thing. I've been working at a national lab for about three years now. I have seen at least two tinfoil hat stories about projects that the people I know are working on and have found them to be wild fancies. Does the govt do some shady tings? sure. But it's not that prevalent or extensive.

      It reminds me of seeing in one of the old building from the Manhattan Project a large red button with "magic" written on it in a halway with nothing else. We had all sorts of theories about what i
  • Working at SAIC (Score:5, Informative)

    by jelwell (2152) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#5893408)
    I worked at SAIC and the oddest thing there was that as an employee you were really dealt with like a contractor. You worked on your project until it was done, and when it was done you were left to your own accord to find a new project to work on. You could hope that your manager would take you with him/her to their next project - but your skillset wouldn't always allow that.

    Very strange indeed, having to worry about your job all the time.
    joe.
    • Re:Working at SAIC (Score:3, Informative)

      by PhoenixK7 (244984)
      I worked for NASA through them AS a contractor. I didn't have to deal with SAIC itself that much (except for doing online timesheets, and the initial interview/badging at the beginning). The people I worked with all seemed fairly nice. I was working on visualization systems for modeled climate data. Alot of other folks working through SAIC there were working on the actual modeling.

      So.. its not all secret black ops and mining traffic for intelligence purposes ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:45PM (#5893567)


      Very strange indeed, having to worry about your job all the time.

      I have found that the best way, when you find yourself in a difficult situation such as this, to secure your job is to kill anyone that has similar skillsets to you. That way you're always the go-to guy. The downside being that you can never sell your house and you have to make up excuses for your unnaturally gree grass all the time.

      • well youre being faecetous, but my dad did something similar (although not by intent, and not by killing off people) He works for a defense contractor. Many times they have offered to promote him to management, every time he has declined, since that would bring him away from doing actual engineering. When it comes time to lay off people, managers get the axe first, so that has led to job security. Additionally, all the younger people get promoted to management and axed eventually. So not only does he k
    • Re:Working at SAIC (Score:5, Informative)

      by envelope (317893) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:49PM (#5893597) Homepage Journal
      My wife worked at SAIC, and the uncertainty of the job was part of the reason she left. Ironically, she spent the last couple of months there developing the re-bid to keep the project she was working on. She won the re-bid but quit anyway.
      She liked the employee ownership though. We made some money on our shares when she left.
      I've got another connection to SAIC: I was in the field artillery in the army and our fire direction control computers were made by SAIC.
  • by ih8apple (607271) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:34PM (#5893452)
    I almost worked for SAIC a few years ago. I was about to accept their job offer, but then I was turned off when discussing advancement opportunities within the company. Apparently, unlike most of geekdom which is ruled by skills, the only real way to advance in SAIC is to hang a bunch of degrees and certifications on your wall. Regardless of your skill level, degrees and certifications are what count towards promotions and advancement.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I've met a ton of people with great credentials who are morons and many non-degreed and non-certified people who are excellent people to work and deal with. IMO, there's no hard and fast rule either way. Degrees don't make you smart and vice versa.
    • by William Tanksley (1752) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:46PM (#5893578)
      Partially true, but SAIC pays you to get those degrees and certs, since they are required by most of SAIC's customers. They pay for the class and and books in full so long as you make a C or better.

      Their policy here makes sense, considering that most of their customers (well, their biggest customer, at least; the US gov't) explicitly check each employee assigned to work on the project, and they don't take the time to verify specific knowledge, only certs, degrees, and experience.

      The managers, as far as I've found, are very good at cutting through the BS to find real skill; you will get picked if you've got what it takes, but the manager may have to "sell" you to the customer based on some of your other credentials until you actually get something formal.

      Good place to work.

      -Billy
      • The managers, as far as I've found, are very good at cutting through the BS to find real skill; you will get picked if you've got what it takes, but the manager may have to "sell" you to the customer based on some of your other credentials until you actually get something formal.

        Umm, right. My brother was working on a project that required them to bring in an outside consultant to verify their compliance with certain government regulations, and the "consultant" was from SAIC. This guy's opinions were s

    • by pmz (462998) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#5893605) Homepage
      I don't know about the rest of you, but I've met a ton of people with great credentials who are morons and many non-degreed and non-certified people who are excellent people to work and deal with.

      Large corporations are machines. If you don't exist on paper, you don't exist at all.

      In all seriousness, if you were an HR person with thousands of employees to track, how would you track them? Get to know them around a campfire singing camp songs or, perhaps more conveniently, a datastore holding all your worthwhile attributes? If it isn't in the data model, it
      can't be worthwhile, can it?
    • I almost worked for SAIC a few years ago. I was about to accept their job offer, but then I was turned off when discussing advancement opportunities within the company. Apparently, unlike most of geekdom which is ruled by skills, the only real way to advance in SAIC is to hang a bunch of degrees and certifications on your wall. Regardless of your skill level, degrees and certifications are what count towards promotions and advancement

      My experiece having been a consultatnt and now a part-time employee at SA

    • Degrees and certifications are a signaling device. They don't (and they really CAN'T) tell the world that you are competent. They do tell the world that you are taking your career seriously.

      The problem is that the employer can't tell what sort of worker you are until after you've worked there for a while; not until after you've had enough time to screw things up badly for them. Having a degree/certification tells the employer that you've invested some effort in getting to this interview, and have somet

  • SAIC rocks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reaper20 (23396) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:35PM (#5893472) Homepage
    I work for SAIC, and employee ownership is pretty kickass, and the long list of "cool shit" that we do keeps getting larger and larger. My favorite part by far is that since everyone is an owner, the "retard rate" is alot lower - that guy slacking off is costing you money, so everyone busts ass.

    The company is VERY conservative, lots of ex-military folks, but even conservative companies understand saving money, so at our division Open Source reigns supreme.

    At our office we use Redhat, Debian, PostgreSQL, Bugzilla, and CVS almost exclusively. We all have linux desktops and laptops, even though the "corporate standard" is Exchange. We can get away with this because SAIC acts more like a cluster of tiny companies rather than a monolith. As long as we remain profitable, we can really do almost what we want.

    My boss donates space to the local LUG at night to hold meetings, because they recognize the value of fostering professional development, AND it gives them a nice steady hiring pool.

    If you ever have a chance to interview for SAIC then do it.
    • by unicron (20286)
      The sharpest guy I've ever met works for them, so they must have something to offer. I also believe his Future Crew demoZ got him in the door, but his ansi art got him the job.
      • Future Crew rocks! Or should I say rocked? Altered Reality and Second Reality (god, I hope I got the names right...and I'll be real embarresed if it turns out it wasn't even FC who made 'em :) ) were seminal peices of computer prowess. It's just sad the demo scene has gone underground...(although farbrausch has really amazed me, with only 64k).
        • Actually it was Unreal (not the game by the same name, though) and Second Reality. I wouldn't say the demo scene has gone underground. I think it is outside the golden age though, when you could do more impressive things in demos than in games. I think these days games are more works of art and coding skill than demos. Recently I picked up a DVD with lots of PC demos you could watch on your TV (video captured). Oh ya, it's called "Mindcandy vol 1. PC Demos" It's actually produced by Hornet (the demosc
    • Of course it must be great to work in one of the biggest companies providing services in a sector that's routinely heavily subsidized by the government.

      The corporate welfare programs, disguised as war/liberation, are the most sneaky socialist scheme ever devised.

  • by showmeshowyoukikoman (659208) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:38PM (#5893493)

    After reading the article through two or three times, I can certainly say it's interesting. What is REALLY interesting though is the message embedded in the article. Didn't expect that, did you?

    Seriously, check it out. ROT13 the article, then drop every other character. Finally, use the alphabet backwards starting a S for one char, then A for the next, I for the next, C for the next, and repeat.

    VERY clever. The message is certainly worth the effort decrypting.

    KIKOMAN
    • I almost fell for that one. I had to lookup ROT13 on google, then i came back to the "instructions" only to realize the hidden truth. Good one
  • by Anonymous Coward
    SAIC is not secretive. It just doesn't a "Investor Relations" dept. whose job is to hype its name on Wall St. and CNBC.

    SAIC _has_ bid against itself for government contracts (highly embarassing). This is because the company is very diversified and has little vertical control coordination. Each unit operates like a small business. They are responsible for their own profit/loss. I've known a unit a unit to sub-contract to another company, because they didn't know the capability was already in house.

    Emp
  • by marian (127443) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:48PM (#5893592)

    Do keep in mind that experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

    With that in mind, it was definitely an experience working for a devision of SAIC. I actually spent a week in corporate HQ looking for some data and the atmosphere there was kind of weird. An odd combination of arrogance and insecurity based on performance. The only way to justify your existence and paycheck when you work for SAIC is to be clocking hours against a billable project. When that project is done you had better hope the management above you has found another project to work on or you'll be out on your ass. All of the worst parts of being a contractor, but without the higher pay.

  • Not That Impressed (Score:3, Informative)

    by rherbert (565206) <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMryan.xar.us> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:49PM (#5893599) Homepage
    I'm a subcontractor at Lockheed Martin along with a number of SAIC subs, and I can't say that I've been all that impressed with all of them. Most of them that I've known have been testers, so maybe that's the low rung at SAIC. Also, they never appeared to be that happy with SAIC.

    I'd much prefer to be in my situation, where two guys own 51% of the company and give out stock to exceptional employees instead of everyone. They make sure we get great benefits, and despite our high fringe rate, our overall rates are still lower than most because of our low overhead.
    • I'm a subcontractor at Lockheed Martin along with a number of SAIC subs, and I can't say that I've been all that impressed with all of them.

      This is what every defense contractor says about every other defense contractor. Don't be suprised if you find out what those SAIC guys say about you!

      Also, companies like SAIC are so damn big, that the people you are working with are not representative of the company. I've worked with some people from Raytheon who couldn't shoot fish in a barrel, but, then, I never
      • I've worked with some people from ... who couldn't shoot fish in a barrel, but, then, I never had the chance to meet their people who design aircraft and radar systems.
        Hi, nice to meet you.
  • I heard that they are working on a new project called Skynet or something like. Something along the lines of an AI to help protect us...
  • by MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#5893609)
    When I was just starting out in the field I worked for SAIC in NewPort, RI. before the days of GPS. They designed a Satelite calibrated Loran system. The best part of the job was going out to sea testing the equipment. We would go out to find a submerged bouy, get to the coordinates, release the bouy to see how close we got. It was a fun job. Ah... but I was young and I wanted my career to evolve and work with embedded controllers. I'd have to say the SAIC partys were pretty cool too.
    • Whoa,
      As UNIX Sysadmin at said office now, I'm willing to make a few guesses as to your name. b)

      There is _NO_ career track within this company, at least not within any one department. There are only two ways I've ever seen a promotion after five plus years here:
      1. Pull a dogbert
      2. Essential quit one division, and get hired elsewhere in the company.

      I've heard SAIC described a few ways:

      1. It's the world's most diversified privately run mutual fund.
      2. Ex Gov't country club.
      3. A pyramid scheme.
      4
  • Much of the work may be hidden, but it has never been more vital. SAIC is on the front lines of today's most momentous national security battles. It's not too much to say that the future safety of many Americans rests in the aged hands of a brilliant and quirky septuagenarian and his clandestine army of techno geeks.

    A nice piece of prop...writing.

    I, for one, would feel safer without top secret companies and organizations, because what you don't know can hurt you.

    The problem with companies that deal in s
  • LSI is prolly what enables Echelon to process so many faxes and conversations.
  • by Shamanin (561998) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @03:05PM (#5893726)
    Imagine one of those robots (depicted in the article) approaching you with its menacing video camera peering at you. What's the first thing any sane person would do... labotomize it (and in the process gain a free iPAQ).
  • Trackball (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Iconoclast (24795) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @03:07PM (#5893743)
    I've got a trackball built by SAIC. It's lasted me for, oh, 5 years? And it still shows NO signs of anything approaching failure. I got it off ebay, the seller claimed it was designed for submarines and I wouldn't be surprised. It's ugly as hell and about 1/3 the size of a 104-key keyboard but with keyboard key buttons instead of lame ass normal microswitch type buttons. I have yet to figure out how to take the ball out to clean it, but then again, it has never been necessary to do so.
    I have the distinct impression that this thing could take a .45 round right through the middle and keep on working. Pair this up with one of those old IBM "tank" PS/2 keyboards and NOTHING will ever stop you from inputting into your computer.
  • Not just secrets (Score:2, Informative)

    by dnaboy (569188)
    I have a relative who works for SAIC, and it's not all spooks and defense work. The National Institutes of Health also sub contracts large portions of it's intramural research to SAIC labs, both on the main Bethesda MD campus and sattelite campuses scattered around. As for the quality of the organization, relative to the rest of the NIH, it really depends. The cost sensitivites are a bit different than working for the government proper, and perhaps there is a slightly higher caliber of employees at SAIC,
  • by Necrotica (241109) <cspencer@lanlCOBOLord.ca minus language> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @03:17PM (#5893849)
    The city where I live in Canada is the provincial capital. A number of years ago the provincial government created a new health care agency called SHIN whose purpose was to facilitate the development of a provincial health care network. SAIC was awarded the contract to do all the necessary IT work involved to make SHIN's vision a reality.

    They have done some really cool things. They utilized the existing Internet infrastructure to allow pharmacists in remote areas of the province to be able to send their prescription data to a mainframe here in Regina. They have also provided doctors with wireless communications using PDAs for appointments, emergencies, etc. The grander picture here is that since the province was wired with fibre-optic cable a long time ago (thanks to the wide-open geography and a telephone company with a lot of foresight) they plan on allowing doctors to view CT scans, MRI scans, etc. real time over a network. There are also plans in place to even have surgeries performed where a general surgeon is performing the operation in one location being guided by a specialist in a different location.

    SAIC definately does some neat stuff and as time passes I hope that the work they do benefits the pathetic health care system we have right now.

  • Not only are they doing whatever it is that they do at ORNL (it is black stuff I am sure), they are also writing pretty cool Remedy apps for us here [utk.edu].
  • I worked for a compnay that was acquired by SAIC in the late 90's, and there was a lot of concern by some employees about working for "a military industrial complex" company. So SAIC invited all employees to hear about the tremendous non-military stuff they did. One guy spoke at length about SAICs' position in health care research. At the end of his talk, an employee asked "so, exactly what kind of health case research are we talking about here?" The red-faced reply from the SAIC guy: "Uhh... the effects
  • by budalite (454527) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @03:29PM (#5893996)
    SAIC can be a great place to work if you are a PM, VP or above. Otherwise, you are just considered contract labor that will probably be laid off at the end of whatever contract you are on. The VP's and project managers move on to the next contract and the worker bees are all let go. Great place to be a boss. ('Course if the PM ticks off the contractor (The Army, in our case), the contract closes even earlier, all the worker bees get terminated, and the PM just goes on to the next SAIC contract. I was the last one out the door of about 70 FTE's.) The weirdest thing about SAIC is that it is so much like it's biggest customer -- Uncle Sam. All the Big VPs used to work in the areas (and Agencies) in which they are now expected to produce contracts. Fancy that.
  • 14 years at SAIC (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    While I currently don't work there, I put in nearly 14 years at SAIC. I could write my own long article about it, but I'll try to summarize:

    1. The most important thing to remember is the company is set up to make money through strong cost control measures. This mostly describes the rest of the items.

    2. If a contract ends for any reason, you've got 2 weeks to find a job within the company, if you don't you are out of the company. It rarely carries employees who don't have a contract to charge to. They d
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The funny part about working for SAIC (which I do) is that we (SAICers) read articles all the time about how exciting and revolutionary we are or how we are developing some new and exciting technology to solve some incredible problem and we just say to each other, "Did you know we did that?" Then we go back to our middle of the road technology on our over-managed, over-budget projects and wonder if that group is hiring...
  • Bureaucracy was the order of the day over there. We were in the same time zone, but inexplicably the roving cast of developers we had to work with would inevitably be out when we had to get in touch with them; any requests for fixes had to be routed through their project managers who couldn't find their own developers until they relented and let us contact the developers which was great until mail started bouncing and we found out that the developers had left. Great communication skills.
    For all I know, th
  • by N8F8 (4562) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @04:23PM (#5894649)
    We are a large company (40K employees an growing) working on many sizes of tech-related contracts [saic.com] - most small. Most importantly, we are employee owned- 100% employee owned.

    The official line is : Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a Fortune 500 company, is the largest employee-owned research and engineering company in the United States. We provide information technology, systems integration and eSolutions worldwide.

    The important point is that we are very diverse. The best explaination of our corporate makeup is to describe a solar system of companies with SAIC corporate in the middle. The organzation is very flat and transparent.

    As much as I like the cuetsy characterizations of SAIC as a spy haven with wizards and towers and stuff, the truth is less exciting. The vast masjority of our constacts are straight meat-and potato development and support work. We do just about anything tech related, and we do it very well. please disgregaurd the SIG below.

  • This seems very much like a company that's driven mostly by the founder. This is evidenced in simple statements like a flock of geese following the leader as he runs, occasionally dropping a bread crumb for them to consume into their spiral notebooks.

    Traditionally, companies like this tend not to fare well after the founder leaves. Infighting becomes rampant, and rarely do any successors have the founders visionary ability.

    So what happens when he goes? Is the CIA/NSA/Secret Police going to be stuck hig

  • Psi Spy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598)
    One of the cuter projects SAIC worked on was remote viewing. A guys named Ed May [firedocs.com] did some work there under government funding until 1995. Spooky shit but having met and worked with some of these guys (I was on SAIC's software process board for a year or so) I can say the real guys are not very interesting. The science of psi stuff is very primitive -- not because it's not real - but because there's no good theory yet. Quantum "computing" will probably drive developments of theory here more than the empe
    • Yeah? So why hasn't anyone gotten Randy's 1 million dollars yet? You go up to him, show him a genuine phenomenon in a controlled experiment, and you're richer by 1 million.
      • "Randi" is his own judge. He has a million dollar conflict of interest.
        • No he doesn't...it's not his money, but a fund put together by a bunch of people. Randi only organises the testing to be done by the proper scientific institutions.
          • He requires that people sign away any right to litigate prior to his determination of whether they are "worthy" of examination by some definition of "scientific" that he is responsible for.

            Then there is Psitech's, AFAIK, unanswered challenge to "Randi" [psitech.net]:

            To: Mr. James Randi

            From: Dane Spotts, CEO

            RE: PSI TECH's $100,000 TRV Counter Challenge

            Dear Mr. Randi,

            I was recently informed that you wish to challenge PSI TECH with your so-called million dollar offer. If your offer were genuine, I would be happy

            • When "Randi" went to a monetary challenge without a clearly verifiable -- widely recognized -- objective for acquiring the money, he departed from so-called "science" and entered dispute processing. His failure to allow adjudication via normal dispute processing leaves his definition of "scientific" in dispute just as much as it would if PSITECH were to try to define a panel of retired federal judges as "scientific" -- which they didn't. Rather than rhetorically posture about "my scientists are holier tha
  • They run a tight ship, and produce good stuff. It's a cool place to work, but the work can be really hard. IMHO, they spend a lot of time creating workarounds for stuff that's already implemented, but starting from scratch doesn't necessarily guarantee a better product.
  • I attend UCSD, about a quarter mile from the SAIC headquarters. One of my computer science professors this quarter is a senior programmer for SAIC. He is one of the most dedicated knowledgeable professors I have ever had. Not only does he hold a full time position with SAIC, but he teaches my CS class, holds the discussions (no other class I have had has the professor ever done that), holds all of his office hours, and tutors in the lab until midnight some nights. If this is a representation of the type
  • SAIC used to be a big user of the MUMPS (or M) language, and a major sponsor of the M Technology Association.

    I wonder if they are still using it and whether any of the big projects mentioned are based on it?
  • "Successful software development" by Scott E. Donaldso and Stanley G. Siegel is one of the ones I've been looking at lately - the authors work at SAIC, and after reading it a bit I looked up the company a few weeks ago - very interesting place, it sounds like.
  • By the way, SAIC bought Telcordia (Bellcore) a while ago.
  • Speaking as an IT guy about to get out of the military w/ a higher level security clearance, they alway seem to be hiring people like me.

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