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Should Training Classes Be Required?

It’s time we rethink our approach to the training problem. Our traditional approach is to dictate a blueprint of training classes that must be followed in order to obtain prescribed levels of certification. To put it in acquisition terms, we’ve been using a design specification. What if we were to use a performance specification instead? What might that look like? Before answering these questions, we should identify what it is we are trying to achieve with training. The purpose of traini

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Did the SBA Invalidate FAR 19.000(b)?

In Latvian Connection General Trading and Construction LLC, B-408633, September 18, 2013, the Comptroller General denied a protest of a solicitation issued by an Air Force unit in Oman for armored cable to be used at Thumrait Air Base, Oman. At issue was the Air Force’s decision to not automatically reserve the acquisition for small business concerns, which both the protester and the Small Business Administration (SBA) argued was required under the Small Business Act. The protester relied on 1

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Consolidated FAR/DFARS/DFARS PGI/DoD Class Deviations

I'm looking for feedback on a tool that I'm creating for DoD. Basically, it would be a single document that would contain the FAR, DFARS, DFARS PGI, and DoD Class Deviations. The concept is similar to that used in the General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM), where both regulatory (GSAR) and nonregulatory information is integrated into one document and distinguished by shading. The main difference is the document that I envision also contains the FAR. I've attached a sample of w

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Plain Language Writing Contest

I invite you to participate in a plain language writing contest. To participate, re-write the passage below in plain language and post your entry in the comments section below. Here is the passage: You may submit more than one entry. I will score your entry for readability using the Dale-Chall Readability Formula.  Your entry must communicate the essential information in the passage to be acceptable. The acceptable entry with the lowest adjusted readability score will be the winner.

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

FAR/DFARS/DoD Class Deviations Provision and Clause Matrix

I always thought that the FAR Matrix was a good idea that was poorly executed. To begin with, it's notorious for containing errors. Second, most of the entries in the "Principle Type and/or Purpose of Contract" columns are "A", Required when applicable, which means you have to look up the prescription anyway. Lastly, the matrix isn't going to tell you if your agency deviates from the FAR prescription, which DoD does a lot. As such, I created a matrix that I think overcomes these problems. A

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Are Small Business Concerns "Nontraditional Defense Contractors?"

To answer the title question--most likely yes, for DoD. A recent DFARS final rule, Procurement of Commercial Items (DFARS Case 2016-D006), added the following definition at DFARS 202.101: Since small business concerns are exempt from CAS, most small business concerns would fall within the definition. This has significant consequences because the final rule also added the following at DFARS 212.102(a)(iii): So, DoD contracting officers can use FAR part 12 procedures to buy both comm

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

FAR 52.212-1 Tailored for SAP

I recently gave a course on simplified acquisition procedures where I was again confronted with the use of the provision at FAR 52.212-1 Instructions to Offerors--Commercial Items in requests for quotations (RFQs) issued pursuant to FAR part 13. (We discussed this issue in the Wifcon forum before here and here). The problem is that the provision was not designed for use in RFQs under FAR part 13. To begin with, the provision requests "offers"--not quotations--which are different (see the defi

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

New FAC Contains Wonderful Thanksgiving Surprise

It's been almost 10 months since the FAR Council issued the last Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC). The streak of inactivity will be broken on November 6 when FAC 2005-96 will be published. The FAC contains a single rule that removes the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule. But that's not what makes the rule so remarkable. Item 16 of the FAC makes changes to the provision at FAR 52.204-8 as follows:      Notice something strange? See that link to a YouTube Video? That's reall

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Army Contracting Command Guilty of Noncompliance with a Nonexistent Rule

In a recent DoD IG report, the Army Contracting Command was cited for its failure to perform "component assessments" on 23 contracts subject to the Buy American Act (see DoD IG Report No. 2015-026). The report states as follows: Not having ever heard of such a requirement, I checked the reference to this requirement, which was allegedly located in DFARS 252.225-7001( a )(3)(ii)(A). DFARS 252.225-7001 is a contract clause entitled "Buy American Act and Balance of Payments Program". The claus

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Describing Contract Type: Watch What You Say

Consider the following exchange between two people: Obviously, Speaker 2?s answer is not responsive to Speaker 1?s question. Speaker 1 wanted to know about a particular aspect of Speaker 2?s car?its origin. Speaker 2 described a different aspect of his car?its color. While Speaker 2?s statement about the color of his car may be true, it doesn?t tell us anything about the origin of his car. Easy enough, right? Ok, let?s try another one. Consider the following exchange between two c

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Savvy or Unethical? Should the Federal Government be a Phantom Bidder in Reverse Auctions?

I recently heard from a contractor regarding an experience he had with reverse auctions. A federal agency was conducting a reverse auction using FedBid and he decided to compete (FedBid, Inc., provides a service whereby federal agencies can conduct reverse auctions). Although he submitted several bids, he ultimately lost the reverse auction. When he checked to see who had won, he was surprised to see that the federal agency that was in need of the required items was the low bidder. In other

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Delivery Orders Not Binding? Huh?

I read something that I found remarkable in the recently published GAO decision Master Lock Company, LLC, B-309982.2, June 24, 2008. Bob posted the decision on the Wifcon home page. The protester argued that the agency's evaluation of the awardee's past performance should have taken into account the fact that they had declined a delivery order under a different IDIQ contract. In response, the agency argued that a delivery order was not binding and the GAO agreed. Here's an excerpt: "Du

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Inconsistent Decisions?

In TYBRIN Corporation, B-298364.6; B-298364.7, March 13,2007, the GAO held that an offeror's cost estimate that indicated that it would not perform 51% of the contract work on a small business set-aside rendered the offer unacceptable, even though the offeror did not explicitly take exception to the solicitation's limitation on subcontracting clause (FAR 52.219-14) and the SBA granted the offeror a certificate of competency. The GAO reasoned as follows: As a result, the Air Force reopened

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Problem of the Day--Pricing Contingencies

Assume that you are pricing a firm-fixed-price contract using cost analysis. The prospective contractor has included a contingency of $100,000 in its cost proposal of the type described at FAR 31.205-7(c)(1): There is a 90% chance that this contingency will occur. If it occurs, there's a 100% chance it will cost $100,000. The prospective contractor can take Precaution A, which will cost $50,000. If the contingency occurs, Precaution A would reduce the chance of the contingency costin

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Acquisition Mentoring Program Survey

A former student of mine is part of a team conducting a survey to gauge interest in a Mentoring program for Acquisition. If you work in federal acquisition and work for a federal agency (including DoD), please take a few minutes to complete the survey. The more junior you are, the better. From the team:  

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

"Commonly Understood"? I Think Not.

I was recently perusing some of the recent final rules issued by the FAR Council when I came across a statement that I found interesting. In responding to a comment concerning the applicability of TINA to task and delivery orders, the FAR Councils stated that TINA applicability is to be determined when negotiating a basic IDIQ contract, as well as when negotiating subsequent orders under the contract. A description of the comment that they received read as follows: The Councils' response w

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

DAR Council Interprets ?Contract? to Include Task and Delivery Orders

In one of my earlier blog entries, I inferred that the FAR Councils interpreted the definition of ?contract? at FAR 2.101 to include task and delivery orders based on their answer to a question about the applicability of TINA to task and delivery orders (see ?Commonly Understood? I Think Not). Well, there is no reason to draw any inferences anymore. In a recently published final DFARS rule, the DAR Council unequivocally stated that the definition of ?contract? included task and delivery order

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Problem of the Day--Pricing Delivery Incentives

Assume you are soliciting quotes for an item of supply. Suppliers A, B, and C each sell the item for about $100/unit. However, the probability of late delivery is different for each supplier. Supplier A has a 31% chance of delivering late, Supplier B has a 21% chance of delivering late, and Supplier C has a 4% chance of delivering late. There’s a 100% chance that all suppliers will deliver no later than one week after the delivery date and any damages due to late delivery will be negligible.

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Acquivore Podcast, Episode 2 - Prescribing "Statement of Work Language": An Evasion of DoD Clause Control Policy?

DoD implemented a Clause Control Policy in 2015 that would require the same degree of transparency in the development and use of "local clauses" by the military departments and defense agencies as FAR and DFARS clauses (see PGI Case 2015-P003 and attached). Specifically, local clauses would be subject to publication for comment in the Federal Register and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). However, not a single local clause has been incorporated in the CFR since the new policy wa

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield in Notice

Myth-Information: Obligating the Minimum in IDIQ Contracts

If the preconceived notions that our students are bringing to the classroom is any indication, there's a good deal of myth-information being spread regarding indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts. The one belief that I want to focus on today deals with obligating the contract minimum upon award of an IDIQ contract. This belief usually stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between creating and obligation and recording an obligation. The difference

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Small Business Order of Priority Table (HOLD THE PRESS!)

WARNING: OMB issued a memorandum on July 10 directing executive agencies to temporarily disregard the two GAO decisions discussed below until a full review can be conducted. Until such a review is conducted, do not use the table. Depending on your point of view, two recent GAO decisions have either clarified or muddied our understanding of the rules pertaining to the order of priority for small business programs. In International Program Group, Inc., B-400278; B-400308, September 19, 2008, t

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Myth-Information: Price Analysis is Always Required

There seems to be a closely held belief by some in the Federal contracting community that the FAR requires the contracting officer to perform a price analysis before awarding any contract. CON 111 used to contain the following statements: A number of my colleagues, both practitioners and instructors, would agree with those statements. Further, I have had a number of students pre-programmed by their contracting offices to believe that price analysis is always required. What does the FAR s

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

COs: Follow OMB?s Guidance at Your Peril

There has been a considerable amount of controversy over the last year or so in the area of small business programs. In International Program Group, Inc., (B?400278, B?400308, 19 September 2008) the Government Accountability Office (GAO) held that HUBZone set-asides took priority over service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) set-asides and SDVOSB sole source acquisitions. This was unsurprising given the clear language in the FAR. In Mission Critical Solutions (B?401057, 4 May 2009)

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

13 Reasons Why SAP is Simpler

“How do you do simplified acquisition?” is a common question I hear from acquisition personnel that are more familiar with using FAR part 15 procedures to solicit offers and award contracts. The question presupposes that there is a regulated set of procedures that one must follow—similar to what is prescribed in FAR part 15, agency FAR supplements to FAR part 15, agency guidebooks on source selection, and the decisions of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Court of Federal Claims (CO

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

Funding UCAs that Cross Fiscal Years

The end of the fiscal year is always a good time to start brush up on fiscal law?particularly the bona fide needs rule. Contracting offices may soon face questions of fiscal law that have already been answered in Volume I, Chapter 5, of Principles of Federal Appropriations Law (GAO Red Book). One interesting case of fiscal law, which you won't find in the Red Book, deals with funding undefinitized contract actions (UCAs) that cross fiscal years. Consider the following scenario: A DoD activit

Don Mansfield

Don Mansfield

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