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About this blog

This blog is managed by Bob Antonio, the Owner of Wifcon.com. It includes link to news items on contracting and the blogger's comments

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Camp Pendleton Contracting Official Arrested On Bribery Charges

"According to the complaint, filed in this matter with the United States District Court, Southern District of California, case number 13MJ1269, Cervantes is charged specifically with violating Title 18, United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 201 ( B )(2), bribery. Cervantes allegedly used his position to extort bribes from businesses seeking to do business at Camp Pendleton and allegedly referred to himself as the Godfather at Camp Pendleton; Cervantes is currently a U.S. Department of Defense employee and a supervisor for Construction and Service Contracts, Inspection Branch, at Camp Pendleton." See it at fbi.gov.

bob7947

bob7947

 

Justice From The Tenth Circuit

" . . . was on the take. At the New Mexico Department of Corrections she was responsible for selecting the best contractors to perform maintenance work for the State. Instead and bypassing any public bidding process, she awarded about $4 million in contracts to . . . over the course of three years -- receiving about $237,000 in return from . . . , [the contractor's] owner." See the judgment at ca10.uscourts.gov (pdf).

bob7947

bob7947

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Contract Analysis

One of our colleagues sent this to me and I am posting it for you. Even Bilbo Baggins has a contract attorney to watch over him. "I, the undersigned, [referred to hereinafter as Burglar,] agree to travel to the Lonely Mountain, path to be determined by Thorin Oakenshield, who has a right to alter the course of the journey at his so choosing, without prior notification and/or liability for accident or injury incurred." "The aforementioned journey and subsequent extraction from the Lonely Mountain of any and all goods, valuables and chattels [which activities are described collectively herein as the Adventure] shall proceed in a timely manner and with all due care and consideration as seen fit by said Thorin Oakenshield and companions, numbering thirteen more or less, to wit, the Company." See the article at wired.com.

bob7947

bob7947

 

The Sovereign Has Not Consented To Be Sued

In Estes Express Lines, Inc. v. U. S., No. 11-597C, January 15, 2013, the Court of Federal Claims said: "For the government to be sued on a contract pursuant to the Tucker Act, there must be privity of contract between the plaintiff and the United States." "This is so because the doctrine of sovereign immunity precludes a suit against the United States without its consent and because, under the Tucker Act, the United States has 'consent[ed] to be sued only by those with whom it has privity of contract."' Accordingly, "[t]he effect of finding privity of contract between a party and the United States is to find a waiver of sovereign immunity." Conversely, a finding of lack of privity deprives this court of jurisdiction. See the opinion here.

bob7947

bob7947

 

Contractors Up For Suspension

"A bipartisan group of senators led by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) are expressing continued concern and frustration over the Army's use of contractors that have potential ties to terrorist groups. The senators specifically referred to a longstanding backlog of 43 referrals pending before the Army's Suspension and Debarment Official that involve individuals or companies with links to groups including the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda as reason for concern that underscores the Army's need to take swift action." See it at shaheen.senate.gov

bob7947

bob7947

 

Government Contracting Improvement Act of 2012?

At this time of year, newly introduced legislation often is introduced and then quickly enters oblivion. I checked this Senator's committee and subcommitee assignments and did not find any direct link to federal contracting. Maybe that explains it. "Sen. Toomey's bill would require the GAO to include the most common reasons bid protests are sustained. This additional information could help federal agencies identify needed improvements in the contracting process, reduce the number of protests overall and provide Congress with much-needed information about possible weaknesses in the federal contracting process to facilitate potential legislation." See it at toomey.senate.gov.

bob7947

bob7947

 

Army Processes A Debarment Referral In About 323 Days

In a letter to the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, Senator McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight and Senators Shaheen, Coburn, Burr, Webb, Cornyn, Inhofe, and Blumenthal, questioned the significant delays between when a referral is made to the Army and when the Army takes action to keep the contractor from receiving additional government contracts. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reports that between June 2011 and June 2012, the Army's average time to process a debarment referral was a total of 323 days. See the letter at mccaskill.senate.gov.

bob7947

bob7947

 

When The Rule Is Mandatory, It Means Mandatory!

You're travelling on your own for the government and you found a way to save money but you're subject to the Joint Travel Regulations as well as the Federal Travel Regulation. What do you do? You went ahead and saved the government money and were proud of yourself. Unfortunately, your finance office stiffed you when it came time for payment. Its time to learn about rules that are mandatory. See the case at cbca.gsa.gov. (it is only 2 pages.)

bob7947

bob7947

 

Frankenstein's Monster

You are a program officer with big "wants" but with little federal money. Your contracting officer is not familiar with hiding overruns in an FPI(F) contract--yet. Besides, you have never heard of it--yet. What to do? Well, this politician knows best. With a little luck and plenty of ignorance, you may see the "fixed price technical competition, under which all offerors compete solely on nonprice factors and the fixed award price is pre-announced in the solicitation." Let's think about this. Fixed price, fixed award price, the same thing. Nobody is saying anything against the FPI(F). So, get ready, low ball your fixed-price and let the offerors compete for it. If they want the business, they can promise you anything. What else can they do? In a few years, just before things fall apart, find another job. By the way, if you want to read about it start at the bottom of the "Discussion draft" to the right of the article. It is in Title V "Other Reforms." They should have called it "Afterthoughts." See it at fcw.com

bob7947

bob7947

 

Rebates And Discounts In Food Service Contracts

"The Subcommittee’s investigation of food service contracts has revealed systemic deficiencies in the transparency and oversight of contractors’ rebate and discount policies. Chairman McCaskill asked Office of Management and Budget Director Zients to review the Subcommittee’s findings and issue guidance to federal agencies to address these deficiencies. She also requested that OMB consider how the federal government can better leverage its buying power through the strategic sourcing of food service." See it at hsgac.senate.gov. (The letter is on the upper left of the linked page in a pdf document.)

bob7947

bob7947

 

Is That The Milky Way Galaxy?

"What you’re looking at is a cell in the midst of dividing into two identical copies—a process called mitosis. Here, the chromosomes (in blue) are aligned at the cell’s equator. Microtubules (red) from opposite poles of the cell attach to the chromosomes using the kinetochores (green) and pull them to opposite ends of the cell, which then splits in half. But sometimes cells do not divide properly—a common problem in cancer. Understanding the mechanics of cell division could help us correct this process when it goes wrong." See it at directorsblog.nih.gov.

bob7947

bob7947

 

Congress Passes Too Much Acquisition Legislation

In 1972, the Commission on Government Procurement wrote that Congress should limit its acquisition legislation to fundamental acquisition matters and let the Executive Branch implement Congress's policies through specific acquisition regulation.  If Congress had listened, it would be passing less acquisition legislation, doing a better jub of fulfilling its oversight responsibility of acquisition activities, and the FAR Councils would be performing their regulatory duty to implement Congress's acquisition policies. Unfortunately, Congress didn't listen--to its own creation. Today, Congress doesn't deal with fundamental acquisition matters, it deals with acquisition minutiae and esoteric details--especially when it comes to the Department of Defense (DoD). Someone has an idea and before you know Congress is passing another section of acquisition legislation. No idea is too small for Congress to more on its acquisition legislation dump-truck.  For the most part, Congress meddles in the acquisition process through the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. These committees propose acquisition legislation in their annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) with much of it in Title VIII of the NDAAs. Title VIII is usually labeled: Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters.  You can run from it, you can stall it, but you cannot hide from it. In the past 17 NDAAs, Congress has passed 725 sections of legislation in Title VIII of the NDAAs.  Another 166 sections of acquisition legislation are included in other Titles of the 17 NDAAs.  That's at least 891 sections of acquisition legislation in the past 17 NDAAs.  What is worse, Congress is picking up its legislative pace and has passed more sections of acquisition legislation in the past 3 years than ever before.  If you have been a follower of Wifcon.com for the past 17 years, you would be familiar with the 17 NDAAs by viewing them here.  Take a look at the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 sections for Title VIII.  Do you see coherent acquisition policy?  No, you do not!  Its a lot of junk legislation patched onto a growing body of junk legislation that is called Title 10 of the U. S. Code.  Don't think you are safe if you are in a civilian agency.  Remember, the NDAA is an annual event and during debate on the Senate or House NDAA versions, any stray piece of legislation may attach itself to the NDAA.  It's kind of like a tick or leech latching onto you.  Take another look at the sticky bomb idea on another of my blog entries.  If you throw an amendment at the NDAA during the debate process, it might stick to the NDAA and become law.  See if you can identify the source of TITLE XVII that is included in this year's NDAA. I'm getting angry again just thinking about this so I better end here.  However, you should get angry too.  Your the ones who have to deal with it on a daily basis.  If you need some incentive to get angry, there are about 250 sections from the last 3 NDAAs waiting for the FAR Councils to deal with them.   I've posted an article with tables to the Analysis Page with the same name as this blog entry.  You can probably see my anger growing with sarcasm as I progress towards the end of that article--see the part on zombie legislation. Some of you are too young to remember the movie Network.  However, there is a part of the movie where the character Howard Beale decides he has had enough.  I looked at it again this morning. 

bob7947

bob7947

 

Another One Bites The Dust

". . . in the current fiscal climate, agencies and businesses alike have been forced to make tough spending cuts. After carefully reviewing the projected spending and attendance for this year’s conference, GSA is suspending Expo for 2013 in an effort to use our resources responsibly and to deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people." See it at gsa.gov.

bob7947

bob7947

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