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In 2016, SBA established the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, or ASMPP, enabling mentors of any size to provide business development assistance to small protégé businesses to enhance the protégé’s ability to compete for federal contracts. Since then, the ASMPP has served as a powerful tool for many businesses and, as of August 1, there were 885 active mentor-protégé agreements.
Recently, however, the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report highlighting some opportunities to improve the program and recommending SBA take additional steps to ensure compliance with the program’s requirements.
We’ll highlight some of the main issues that the OIG identified and then discuss how the report may impact the program.
First, the OIG determined that the ASMPP’s structure didn’t properly ensure that unqualified mentors weren’t receiving program benefits. According to the OIG, this failure stemmed from the application and annual report processes. While mentors are required to meet a number of conditions for participation in the program under 13 C.F.R. §125.9(b), the OIG noted that the current mentor-protégé agreement template and application and annual report questionnaires focus almost exclusively on protégés. As a result, the OIG concluded that “there is little assurance that unqualified mentors are not participating in the program and receiving program benefits, including small business set-aside and sole source contracts, for which they would not otherwise be eligible.”
To combat this problem, “SBA drafted a certification form for mentors to complete and submit during the application process” requiring mentors to promise compliance with the applicable regulations. While SBA already uploaded the mentor certification form to certify.SBA.gov, the form is not mandatory at this time, so OIG recommended “implementing mandatory use” of the form. If SBA heeds its OIG’s advice, new program applicants should be on the lookout for the additional requirement.
Second, the OIG found that the ASMPP did not effectively ensure small business protégés developed as intended or adequately measure benefits of the program overall. As a preliminary matter, the OIG determined that “program officials did not ensure quality and consistency in the application review processes.” Of the approved mentor-protégé agreements OIG reviewed, 75% of the relevant “case files did not contain sufficient documentation that mentors were qualified” and more than half “did not contain evidence of supervisory approval, a required final step in the application process.”
With respect to annual evaluations, the OIG found that ASMPP officials conducted less than 24% of the annual evaluations they were required to conduct during the OIG’s review period. To make matters worse, even the completed evaluations were deemed incomplete because program officials “did not document whether they reviewed the protégé’s business plan to assess whether the goals and objectives were aligned with the mentor-protégé agreement and annual evaluation report, as required[.]”
While SBA, to some extent, maintained “established application review and annual evaluation processes,” the OIG determined that SBA was unable to adhere to these processes primarily “because SBA did not prioritize staff resources, and its information technology (IT) system was not sufficiently developed to effectively implement its established processes.” With respect to IT, the report described the SBA Certify site as sometimes “unreliable” and found that “case files randomly disappeared.”
Staffing issues, however, are perhaps more problematic. Though the SBA officials who designed the program “indicated that the program would initially need 12 full-time employees to implement the program,” the overburdened ASMPP office has only ever “had five employees and a program director since its initiation.”
In light of these issues, the OIG recommended development and implementation of procedures to enhance quality and consistency of application review and annual evaluation and enhancing functionality of certify.SBA.gov, as well as prioritizing staff more effectively.
How will this Report impact contractors and the ASMPP Office?
As a response to the OIG’s findings, the Report indicates that SBA plans to take a number of steps to correct the program’s current flaws.
First, SBA “plans to issue a new Mentor-Protégé Agreement form” by July 1, 2020 to ensure mentors’ regulatory compliance. Be on the lookout for the new form if you are considering a Mentor-Protégé arrangement in that timeframe.
The remaining intended changes apply to the ASMPP office’s internal procedures. SBA also plans to update its standard operating procedure to “describe the steps used by program staff to document completion of the application and annual review processes” by July 1, 2020. The SBA generally posts its SOPs online, so be sure to check back for changes. Increased emphasis on annual reporting creates the potential for increased scrutiny of these reports and the assistance and development reflected in them.
Finally, SBA intends to enhance its internal processes to better “fulfill the functional requirements for the program” overall by December 2020. The catch? Unfortunately for the overworked ASMPP office, SBA Management does not intend to reallocate or add any additional staff positions to their numbers.
Stay tuned to the blog for information about updates to the ASMPP. If you have questions about this report or how it might impact you, you can also give us a call!
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The Service Contract Labor Standards (“SCLS”) governs how, and how much, government contractors must pay “covered” employees on “covered” contracts. Here are the Top 10 things to keep in mind regarding Service Contract Labor Standards:
- It used to be called the “Service Contract Act,” and many people still call it that, or SCA. It is now, however, Service Contract Labor Standards. In real life, either name will do.
- The contracting agency, and the Department of Labor (“DOL”) both enforce SCLS. And DOL has independent authority to debar contractors for violations. And, violations may also trigger False Claims Act liability.
- SCLS mandates specific minimum wages and fringe benefits for covered employees. These are minimums. The fringe benefit requirement may be met either by providing benefits or a minimum cash payment.
- There is no commercial contract exemption from the SCLS.
- “Bona fide” executive, management, or administrative employees are exempt from SCLS, even on a covered contract.
- SCLS applies to subcontractors and must be flowed down. The prime contractor is jointly and severally liable for violations. SCLS compliance should be part of every contractor’s formal Government Contract Compliance Program.
- Keep detailed records. As a practical matter, contractors will have the burden to demonstrate their compliance.
- DOL maintains comprehensive lists of “Wage Determinations” (on SF98). These cover job descriptions and localities. It is common for Wage Determinations to be unavailable for a particular job category and/or location, or to be provided late to a contractor, or to change or be updated during contract performance. DOL and the FAR provide detailed procedures for dealing with each of these situations.
- SCLS compliance is a multi-department responsibility: HR, Accounting/Finance, Program Management, and Legal all have important roles and responsibilities.
- DOL conducts random (and not so random) SCLS audits and site visits. Be cooperative but be prepared.
About the Author:
William Weisberg, Esq
William Weisberg is a government contracts attorney with 30 years of experience. Bill received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (where he was an Echols Scholar) in 1983 and his law degree from the George Washington University in 1986. Bill practiced with large international law firms for over 25 years, the last 10 of which he led his firms’ Government Contract and Grant practice groups. Bill formed his own boutique government contract firm in 2013.
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I know many of you struggled (or are struggling) with growing pains in your business – it’s often one of the many reasons we are called, to help our clients get to things they don’t have time to do. Recently, we’ve experienced that pain ourselves. The pain of becoming successful. The positive side: new clients,…
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I've been reading some discussions from the Contracting Workforce Forum. As some of you know, I abhor the use of management phrases like "cool kids organizations." What the hell is a "cool kids organization?" Is it an excuse for something? I spent my working career listenting to the latest meaningless phrases like that. I was around when the words Human Capital became popular. The words Human Resource preceded it. If you look at the definition for capital and resource, you will see they are much the same. Perhaps it is my own personal perception but I always hated the thought of being considered an inanimate object by some stiff holding a management position. Why not get rid of the words capital and resource and just treat each other as human?
That leads me to a story about a so-called manager--think Senior Executive Service--who clearly had risen beyond his abilities within an organizaion and one of his unfortunate underlings. The manager wanted to fire the underling because the manager claimed that the underling lacked any initiative. Oh, how things can go so wrong for an incompetent manager.
I remember the manager's face as having a permanent scowl and marching around looking like that. He must have been permanently constipated. No one wanted to work for the manager because he was an asshole and he screamed at people. All I can remember about the underling is that he reminded me of one of the Mario Brothers because of his mustache.
One morning, the underling was standing on a crowded subway platform waiting for a train. The signal showed that the train was approaching the platform when a woman fell onto the track. To save the woman on the track, someone had to quickly jump down onto the track--avoid electrocution by the 3rd rail--and lift the woman to the platform. There was no time to hesitate. Only one person jumped onto the tracks that morning to save the woman. He didn't have time to think about what to do, he didn't have time to change into a Superman outfit, he just did it within seconds. The moment that he saved the woman and climbed back onto the platform, the underling was hailed as a hero. I can still see the newspaper article in my mind describing the hero's actions.
How do you fire a hero because he lacked initiative? You don't. You pull the paperwork that the manager was planning to use to fire the underling and you make sure it never finds the light of day. And, that's what happened. Years later on the day I retired, I remember seeing the hero in the GAO lobby. He still had that mustache. The manager went no futher in GAO and was no longer there.
So what's the moral of this story? Its obvious. You'll figure it out.
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If events beyond the government's reasonable control interrupt normal receipt of offers, and prevent change of the exact due date or time, offers are due at the same time on the first work day that normal government operations return.
The most humorous entry came from @apsofacto:Quote
Life. Wow, man, Life.
It's really strange you know? We make these plans to receive your proposals and then Life happens and we can't. We can't even issue an amendment to our solicitation! Could be plague, could be invasion, could be we just totally flaked out that day.
But chill. We'll take it when we get back. We won't trip about Life. Cuz. Life. Trips. Us. Man. All of us.
Can you pass that stuff over here?
There were some others I really liked that didn't win. If we slightly change @bentley78's entry, we get:Quote
If we can’t receive your proposal on the due date and we forget to extend the due date, you can assume that it’s been extended until the next day we can receive it.
Thank you all for participating!
In the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congress placed serious limitations on the Government’s use of Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) procurements. As a result, we should be seeing the Government issue more RFPs in which technology and innovation outweigh price. In these instances, contractors can seek a higher price but are expected to show substantial technological advantages. Two recent protests cases out of GAO illustrate the principles of technical proposal evaluation when technical factors are more important than price, and demonstrate the potential cost/technical trade-offs under these circumstances.
Read the full article here.
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ASHBURN, Virginia (September 19, 2018) The National Contract Management Association (NCMA)
President Charlie Williams Announces the New NCMA Chief Executive Officer
On behalf of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Kraig Conrad, CAE, CTP, as the new NCMA Chief Executive Officer. Kraig will formally take his position on November 1, 2018. Kraig joins NCMA with 20 years of association leadership experience. He most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA), where he guided the PRMIA Board of Directors and its global network of more than 50,000 risk professionals to craft an enhanced vision for the group that includes a long-range strategic plan; new advocacy, certification, and training efforts; promoting the PRMIA brand; and enhancing membership benefits.
Prior to PRMIA, he held many roles at the National Investor Relations Institute, including Acting Co-Chief Executive Office and Vice President for Programs and Development. Kraig has also served as Research Lead for Strategy Practice at Corporate Executive Board, Director of Corporate Finance and Risk Management and Director of Strategic Alliances at the Association for Financial Professionals. He started his career as a Financial Analyst at Credit Suisse.
Kraig earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a Certified Association Executive and member of the American Society of Association Executives, and a Certified Treasury Professional and member of the Association for Financial Professionals.
“We are excited to have Kraig join our team. Kraig has demonstrated time and time again exemplary leadership skills and thoughtful approaches to the business of association management,” says NCMA President Charlie Williams. “We are confident that Kraig is the right person at the right time for NCMA as we continue the NCMA journey that was begun over 59 years ago. As our new CEO, Kraig’s association leadership skills will be critical to the Board of Directors as it charts the association’s strategic path forward and seeks to further elevate the association’s relevance to the profession it serves.”
The selection of Kraig concludes a national search supported by Staffing Advisors, a Washington, DC-based executive search firm. Kraig shares the NCMA dedication to professional growth and the educational advancement of acquisition and contracting professionals worldwide. Please join us in congratulating Kraig as we welcome him to the organization.
Founded in 1959, the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) is the world's leading professional resource for those in the field of contract management. The organization, which has over 18,000 members, is dedicated to the professional growth and educational advancement of procurement and acquisition personnel worldwide. NCMA strives to serve and inform the profession it represents and to offer opportunities for the open exchange of ideas in neutral forums. For more information on the association, please visit www.ncmahq.org.
Contact: Amanda Gillespie, Marketing & Communications Director firstname.lastname@example.org (571) 382-1127
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In the 1973 futuristic mystery thriller Soylent Green there’s an exchange between Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) and Hatcher (Brock Peters):
Det. Thorn: Ocean's dying, plankton's dying . . . it's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!
Hatcher: I promise, Tiger. I promise. I'll tell the Exchange.
Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!
Acquisition Reform is like Soylent Green, it’s people. I don’t mean the Congresscritters, like Representative Thornberry and Senator McCain, and their Committees. I don’t mean the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, whoever he or she may turn out to be. I don’t mean the acquisition and procurement policy wonks in the Pentagon and elsewhere.
This past week (i.e., 14 – 20 May 2017) was a big week for the professional acquisition reformers:
The Advisory Panel on Streamlining and Codifying Acquisition Regulations issued the “Section 809 Panel Interim Report” (May 2017). Read the 60 page report, and formulate your own opinion if it will fix the problems in Government acquisition. Frankly, I think it will take more than getting rid of the $1 coin requirement, but I could be wrong.
Representative William McClellan "Mac" Thornberry introduced H.R. 2511 “To amend Title 10, United States Code, to streamline the acquisition system, invest early in acquisition programs, improve the acquisition workforce, and improve transparency in the acquisition system.” The short title on that would be ‘‘Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act’’. (sic) Read the 80 page resolution, and formulate your own opinion if it will fix the problems in Government acquisition. [If we have Representative Thornberry, can Senator McCain be far behind? (Or, is that FAR behind?)]
A (moderately) reliable source has told me that the Department of Defense will be leaving Better Buying Power behind, now that Mssrs. Carter and Kendall are gone. But, wait, acquisition reform has not been abandoned. Apparently, it will go on, but now as “Continued Acquisition Reform.” Presumably that will be abbreviated as “CAR.” Continued Acquisition Reform should not be confused with Continuous Acquisition Reform nor Continued Acquisition Reform, nor Continuous Process Improvement, for that matter, those would all be bygone days.
The professional acquisition reformers have time and again passed legislation and issued regulations to “fix” the acquisition process. This fiscal year (2017) Title VIII (i.e., Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) had 88 sections. The year before, 77 items. And, yet, Representative Thornberry and Senator McCain believe there is a need for a lot more acquisition reform legislation this year. Title VIII has included over 500 sections over the last ten years, but we still need more. What we have at issue here is what is referred to as the Law of the Instrument. Although he was not the first to recognize the Law, Abraham Maslow is probably the one best remembered for articulating it, "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." For those of us on the receiving end of the Congressional output that would be, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a legislation, to treat everything as if it were a bill." I suspect, although I cannot be positive, that most, if not all, of the folks doing the legislating have never had to use the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to buy anything. If they had, they would not be nearly so cavalier in tossing around statements about how bad the acquisition process is, and how more legislation is the answer.
Will such legislation solve the acquisition problem? According to the Honorable Frank Kendall the answer is a resounding “NO.”Quote
Frank Kendall, then undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (USD(AT&L)), condemned, or “slammed,” or “blasted,” such legislation.
Frank Kendall, who has served as the Pentagon's top weapons buyer since October 2011, blasted Congress's acquisition reform efforts, which he said almost inevitably create more bureaucracy and regulation.
Kendall called legislative action “an imperfect tool to improve acquisition results.”
“It is not a good instrument to achieve the results that I think the Hill is after, but they keep trying,” he said. “To be honest, I believe that as often as not, what they do does not help. In some cases, it has the opposite effect.”
Bloomberg Federal Contracts Report, “Outgoing DOD Weapons Buyer Slams Congress’ Acquisition
But, in all fairness, it’s not just them. Since we last had a reissuance of the FAR in March 2005, the FAR Council has brought us 95 Federal Acquisition Circulars (FACs) to update and expand the FAR. Since we last has a reissuance of the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) in January 2008, the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council has brought us 211 Defense FAR Supplement Publication Notices (DPNs). With all of that, there are still dozens of open FAR and DFARS cases yet to be heaped on our plate. Although legislation may have been a major root cause of much that change activity, we can probably offer some of our “thanks” to the President, OMB, OFPP, GAO, Boards of Contract Appeals and Courts. Admittedly, now and again, a good idea actually gets slipped into the regulations. [Note: The number of FACs and DPNs issued in 2017 was artificially suppressed as a result of Executive Order 13771 – Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The two councils (i.e., FAR Council, Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (DAR Council) and the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAA Council)) withheld publication of a large number of cases while policies and procedures were “sorted out.”]
[Note: Refer to Augustine’s Laws, Law Number XLIX: Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds.]
And, if that were not enough, we have institutional acquisition reform (e.g., policy letters, memoranda, directives, instructions, guidebooks, handbooks, manuals). Everyone seems to want to get into the act in one way or another. It is interesting to note, however, that the “perpetrators” of this institutional acquisition reform do not see it in the same light as acquisition reform legislation.
But, I recognize the lesson that King Canute was trying to teach when, in the apocryphal anecdote, he had his throne taken to the sea and ordered the tides not to come in. They did anyway. Legislators will legislate, it’s what they do. Regulators will regulate, it’s what they do. Policy makers will policymake, it’s what they do. None of them will willingly give up their rice bowls.
Let’s get back to Soylent Green.Quote
“Acquisition improvement is going to have to come from within. It is not going to be engineered by Hill staffers writing laws for us,” Kendall said. “It's going to be done by people in the trenches every day, dealing with industry, trying to get incentives right, trying to get the performance right, trying to set up business deals and enforce them, set reasonable requirements in our contracts.”
Bloomberg Federal Contracts Report, “Outgoing DOD Weapons Buyer Slams Congress’ Acquisition Fixes,” Andrew Clevenger, January 17, 2017
Better Buying Power (BBP)? The Honorable Mssrs. Carter and Kendall were responsible for BBBP, in all its iterations. Did that rise up from the trenches? Or, was it handed (or pushed) down from above? Isn’t this a bit like the pot calling the kettle black? If you will permit the adding of a single letter to a line of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, "The laddy doth protest too much, methinks."
[Note: Refer to Augustine’s Laws, Law Number L: The average regulation has a life span one-fifth as long as a chimpanzee's and one-tenth as long as a human's, but four times as long as the official's who created it.]
Well, whichever way you look at it (i.e., upside, downside, sidewise) it is all more work for the acquisition professionals that must do the daily work of buying supplies and services for the Government. If you want to have an idea of how all of this acquisition reform weighs us down, then take a look at William Blake’s illustration “Christian Reading in His Book” for John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress. It will depend on how many pixels the image you find has, but it looks to me that he is reading the FAR.
Who are the Soylent Green? Not the policymakers, but the people in the trenches, doing the hard work of acquisition on a daily basis, day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out. The contract specialist, contract negotiator, contract administrator, cost or price analyst, purchasing agent or procurement analyst just trying to get the job done. These are, for the most, part the unsung heroes and heroines of acquisition reform. These are the ones who, through innovation and personal initiative reform that acquisition process, one acquisition at a time. And, if we are lucky, or clever, are able to pass successes along to others.
As acquisition professionals, we must pass on our successes, and failures, to others, so that they may join in the fruits of success, and avoid the pitfalls of failure. You cannot count on “Lessons Learned,” alone. How often do lessons learned go unread and unlearned? You cannot count on “Best Practices,” alone. How often do best practices, go unread and unpracticed? Share with others. Share quickly. Share often. Share wherever you can.
A final thought.Quote
So what is to be done? By and large the answer to that question is well understood—in fact, many friends of mine such as former Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard; the head of the Skunk Works Kelly Johnson; Air Force General Bennie Schriever; Admiral Wayne Meyer and Army General Bob Baer, among others, were providing the answer decades ago. What is required is simply Management 101. That is, decide what is needed; create a plan to provide it, including assigning authority and responsibility; supply commensurate resources in the form of people, money, technology, time and infrastructure; provide qualified leadership; execute the plan; and monitor results and strenuously enforce accountability. Ironically, little of this requires legislation—but it does require massive amounts of will . . . from all levels of government. Unfortunately, many of the problems are cultural—and it is difficult to legislate culture. But there is much that could be done.
Views from the Honorable Norman R. Augustine
The Acquisition Conundrum
DEFENSE ACQUISITION REFORM: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? A Compendium of Views by Leading Experts, STAFF REPORT PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE (October 2, 2014)
The absolute final thought. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. I don’t care about King Canute: Don’t legislate. Don’t regulate. Just leave us alone to do our work as best we can.
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The long-standing principle that the federal government had the same implied duty of good faith and fair dealing as any commercial buyer was put in jeopardy by a 2010 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Precision Pine & Timber, Inc. v. U.S., 596 F.3d 817 (Fed. Cir. 2010). There a panel of the court adopted a narrow rule seemingly limiting application of the principle to situations where a government action was “specifically targeted” at the contractor or had the effect of taking away one of the benefits that had been promised to the contractor. Although the decision concerned a timber sales contract not a procurement contract, when I wrote it up in the May 2010 Nash & Cibinic Report (24 N&CR ¶ 22), I expressed the fear that the reasoning would be subsequently applied to procurement contracts.
My fear was realized in a construction contract case, Metcalf Construction Co. v. U. S., 102 Fed. Cl. 334 (2011). In that decision, the judge described eggregious conduct on the part of the government officials that would have been held to be a breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing under many earlier cases. However, the judge held that under the Precision Pine standard, the contractor had not proved that the actions were specifically targeted at the contractor. In the February 2012 Nash & Cibinic Report (26 N&CR ¶ 9), I criticized this decision but stated that I believed that even if the decision was affirmed on appeal, most contracting officers would not take this as a signal that the proper way to administer contracts was to abuse the contractor.
Fortunately, a panel of the Federal Circuit has reversed the decision, Metcalf Construction Co. v. U. S., 2014 WL 519596, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 2515 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 11, 2014). The court held that the lower court had read Precision Pine too narrowly and that “specific targeting” was only one example of the type of conduct that could constitute a breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. Importantly, the court also rejected the government’s argument that this “implied duty” only could be found when it was footed in some express provision of the contract. The court concluded that the correct rule was only that the express provisions of a contract had to be examined to ensure that they had not dealt with the conduct of the government; for if they had, they would override the implied duty.
This leaves us in a tenuous position with regard to the views of the Federal Circuit. We have one panel in Precision Pine stating a narrow rule, another panel in Metcalf Construction stating the traditional rule, and a third panel in Bell/Heery A Joint Venture v. U.S., 739 F.3d 1324 (Fed. Cir. 2014), ruling in favor of the government because the contractor had not alleged facts showing that the government had “engaged in conduct that reappropriated benefits promised under the contract” (which is part of the Precision Pine reasoning). Thus, it is difficult to state where the judges of the Federal Circuit stand. Hopefully, the court will agree to take either Metcalf Construction or Bell/Heery to the full court for an en banc review of the issue.
I’ve never been sure why the Department of Justice has so vigorously argued that the government should not be held to the same standards of conduct as a commercial buyer. Of course, persuading the courts and boards that a narrower standard should be applied to the government is a way to win litigated cases. But, in my view, encouraging abusive or non-cooperative conduct hurts the government as much as it hurts its contractors. I have taught for many years that in the long run the government benefits from actions that show industry that it is a fair contracting partner. A line of published judicial decisions that demonstrates that the government is not such a partner is one more of the many messages that tell companies they should sell to the government only when they can find no other customer. Surely, this is not the message that government agencies in need of products and services on the commercial marketplace want to convey to companies that can provide those products and services.
Many years ago when I came to Washington to work in the field of government contracting, I concluded that there was one major advantage to being on the government side of the negotiating table. That advantage was that I was under no pressure to extract money from the contractor by unfair bargaining or unfair contract administration. To me fairness was an integral part of the job of a government employee. I still believe it and teach it. Thus, no matter what the outcome of the good faith and fair dealing litigation, I will continue to urge government employees that fair treatment of contractors is the only way to go.
Ralph C. Nash
When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now . . . .
When I'm Sixty-Four
John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Shortly after we celebrate our country's independence on July 4, 2013, Wifcon.com will end its 15th year on the internet. With much help from the Wifcon.com community, I've raised a growing teenager. When I started, I was 49 and my hair was so thick that I often shouted ouch or some obscenity when I combed it. Wifcon.com has existed in 3 decades and parts of 2 centuries. During that period, I've updated this site for every work day--except for the week or so when I called it quits. I remember the feeling of relief. I thought it was over. However, many of you convinced me to bring it back. Yes, just when I thought I was out, many of you pulled me back in.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, someone once told me that Wifcon.com was my legacy. I once had great hopes for a legacy. Perhaps, a great saxophone player belting out a solo in front of thousands of fans and seeing them enjoying themselves. Instead, here I sit in my solitude looking for news, decisions, etc., to post to the home page. For many years, my dog Ambrose kept me company. Now, my dogs Blue Jay and Lily stare at me and look for attention. With my sights now set realistically, I accept that Wifcon.com is my legacy. It's the best I could do.
Every now and then, I receive an e-mail from someone thanking me for Wifcon.com. They tell me how it helped their careers. These e-mails keep me and Wifcon.com going.
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
When I'm Sixty-Four
John Lennon, Paul McCartney
The thoughts in these e-mails won't let me quit. I still search each night for something to add to the site in hopes that it will increase your knowledge. If I find something new, I still get excited. Often, it feels like a self-imposed weight around my neck. What started as a release for my imagination has evolved into a continuing and daily addition to the contracting community. In the evenings, it is as if I'm Maillardet's automaton. I head over to my office, sit before the computer, and update. Then I send the updated pages to Virginia where it is accessed from around the world. Maybe I'm addicted to Wifcon.com; maybe I was born with the Wifcon.com gene.
If you haven't added the numbers, I'm 64 now. Wifcon.com and I are showing our age. I can comb the top of my head with my fingers. The ouches and other obscenities caused by my once thick hair are gone. A recent upgrade to the discussion forum requires that I turn the "compatibility mode" off on my browser. In that mode, I realized that Wifcon.com is ugly. I have current software for the needed future redo of this site.
I am Wifcon.com; Wifcon.com is me. It is my legacy and my albatross. As always, thank you for your support.
You'll be older too,
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.
When I'm Sixty-Four
John Lennon, Paul McCartney