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Acquisition Reform ― It’s Soylent Green!

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Emptor Cautus

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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.”

 

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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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Every now and then, we have the opportunity to enjoy writing that is well-crafted and about something that interests us.  Here is such an opportunity.  Take it!

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All of you are welcome to be part of the solution.  If anyone would like to share your best practices and have them considered for insertion in the Section 809 Panel's submittal to Congress or there is a part of DFARS or FAR that is completely impeding your abilty to get work done, please submit your recoommendations, including what you think the final change needs to look like, to https://section809panel.org/contact/

Be the change you want to see in the world!

 

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I looked up antonyms for the word "reform."  Words include break, damage, harm, hurt, ruin, worsen.  Unfortunately, these words better describe the results of most reform efforts. 

I think the next reform should include the removal of laws and regulations that represent a significant burden to the acquisition workforce, combined with proper employee incentives, but most of all accountability of all involved (acquisition workforce and its management).  I've worked in Government procurement for over 18 years and another 5 in a Fortune 100 company.  The differences in results and accomplishments that I've witnessed are striking. 

While at the private sector company, I was on a small team (4 people) and we were responsible for a nearly $1B spend.  We had no regulation, policy or handbook. Certainly not a 1000 page plus FAR, or hundred plus page long guides for certain contracting tasks.  We had specific strategic goals to achieve, developed a plan on how to accomplish the goals, and implemented the plan, and had a system to measure our results.  Leadership made it clear they expected results and I was accountable for achieving them.  I had a healthy concern for my job.  While I didn't think about it much, I knew I never wanted to give leadership a reason to let me go.  Instead I strived to be a top performer and was able to achieve that result.  I was also incentivized with pay increases and performance bonuses tied to the team's accomplishments.

In all my years of experience and having been in or observed different Federal agencies, I cannot recall any instance of anyone being held accountable for not achieving any specified results.  Heck, I haven't even seen a meaningful or accurate system of measuring results.  Folks claim to save millions or billions with little proof or a way to validate the savings, yet appropriations and spending often increase.  I've also not seen any meaningful incentive for folks to make processes more efficient or manage budgets more efficiently.

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On 5/22/2017 at 8:44 AM, Melissa Rider said:

All of you are welcome to be part of the solution.  If anyone would like to share your best practices and have them considered for insertion in the Section 809 Panel's submittal to Congress or there is a part of DFARS or FAR that is completely impeding your abilty to get work done, please submit your recoommendations, including what you think the final change needs to look like, to https://section809panel.org/contact/

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Melissa is a member of the Section 809 Panel's professional staff.

Sorry, but the Section 809 Panel is a complete waste of time. Look at the list of members. They are the usual suspects. They have been given until August 2018 to produce a set of recommendations that any one of them ought to be able to produce in two weeks. If they went to a good bar they might be able to do it in one week. I could produce a good set in one week without a drink if I didn't have to write a lot of bullpucky gobbledygook to go with it.

I just pulled the following volume from a shelf: Report of the Acquisition Advisory Panel to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the United States Congress (January 2007), issued a decade ago. The panel that produced that report was known as the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA) Panel. Three of the members of the new Section 809 Panel were on that panel. How many of its recommendations have been implemented? How many of you have even heard of it?

The 809 Panel's goals are:

1. enable DOD to adapt at the speed of a changing world,

2. leverage the dynamic defense marketplace,

3. allocate resources effectively, and

4. simplify acquisition.

Well, hell, we don't need a panel to come up with recommendations that would enable us to do those things. We don't lack ideas. We could have recommendations in print for comment by the end of June.

What we lack, and what we will never ever have, is THE WILL TO ACT.

American government--Congress, the president, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy--is not designed to act. Even in wartime, the only way we have been able to act has been by throwing out much of what is standard in American government law, regulation, and practice. In order to act you have to break some rice bowls, and you just can't do that in peacetime. Why not? Well, read Herbert Kaufman's brilliant little book, Red Tape: Its Origins, Uses, and Abuses (Brookings, 1977), page 4: "One person's 'red tape' may be another's treasured safeguard."

Want to simplify acquisition? Get rid of the various subcategories of small business, the small business limitations on subcontracting, SBA procurement center representatives, and the certificate of competency program. Repeal the Service Contract Act. Eliminate protests to the Court of Federal Claims. Get rid of competition advocates. Recommend any of those things and they'll hear the howls on the space station.

I wish I could believe in Melissa's call to arms, but I don't. Not. For. One. Minute.

Oh, I'm going to publish some recommendations in The Nash & Cibinic Report (I already have, actually) and maybe in my Wifcon Blog. Not because I believe that any of them will go anywhere, but because I get paid to write something each month and I might as well earn my nickel by taking pokes at the panel. They'll say I'm being negative. They'll be right, and so will I.

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Well, Vern it sad you feel that way, but the Panel is trying to make positive change and we sincerely would like to hear what what everyonr who has a suggestion would like to say- If you have a best practice, the best way to desseminate it is to offer it to the Panel along with a description of how the practice will make the acquisition process better at the practical level.  I look forward to seeing great ideas from practitioners!

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Here's a great idea (since only great ideas are invited) -- I made the submission on the 809 Panel webpage a few minutes ago...

Detailed Description of the Challenge 

How many GS-1102s does it take to make a contracting decision? 

If a contracting officer's decision or recommendation has to be approved by a higher-level official, such as the HCA, there may be six, eight, ten, or fifteen or more GS-1102 (or military equivalent) persons in between the contracting officer and the HCA.  And we're not even talking about lawyers.  We need to streamline the decision-making process. 

Proposed Solution or Recommendation 

Maybe in DFARS Part 201: 

When acquisition regulations require approval of a contracting officer decision or determination at some level above the contracting officer, the following instructions shall apply: 

When the action requires (a) approval within the local contracting office or center, or (b) review by the chief of the contracting office before submission to the head of the contracting activity, there shall be no intermediate GS-1102 (or military equivalent) persons as reviewers within the local contracting office or center.  The contracting officer may submit the action directly to the approving official or chief of the contracting office for consideration.  However, if the approving official's or chief of the contracting office's position is graded for a member of the Senior Executive Service (or comparable or higher position, including a general or flag officer in the armed forces), the approving official or chief of the contracting office may appoint one GS-1102 (or military equivalent) person to perform a staff review as part of his or her consideration of the action.    

When the action requires (a) approval by the head of the contracting activity (HCA), or (b) review by the HCA before submission to the agency head, the HCA may require an intermediate review by the chief of the contracting office (see the paragraph above).  In addition, the HCA may appoint one GS-1102 (or military equivalent) person on his or her staff to perform a staff review as part of his or her consideration of the action. 

If the approving official, chief of the contracting office, or head of the contracting activity desires the formal input of other GS-1102 (or military equivalent) persons before making a decision on the action, he or she may convene an in-person or virtual meeting for that purpose.  The contracting officer should be invited to participate in the meeting whenever practicable.  The names of all attendees shall be recorded for the record in the contract file. 

The above paragraphs only limit GS-1102 (or military equivalent) reviewers for actions requiring approval above the contracting officer level and up to the head of the contracting activity.  Reviews by attorneys or other specialists or advisors are not limited by these paragraphs.

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On 5/22/2017 at 8:44 AM, Melissa Rider said:

All of you are welcome to be part of the solution.  If anyone would like to share your best practices and have them considered for insertion in the Section 809 Panel's submittal to Congress or there is a part of DFARS or FAR that is completely impeding your abilty to get work done, please submit your recoommendations, including what you think the final change needs to look like, to https://section809panel.org/contact/

Be the change you want to see in the world!

 

Melissa,

If the Panel wants to find out the types of things that are impeding people at the working level, setting up the web site is nice, but it's not enough. People at the working level are working. Most have already filed away or deleted the e-mail from the Panel soliciting feedback that had already been forwarded three or four times. If the Panel wants to know how the regulations are impeding people's ability to get their work done, they should read the kinds of questions being asked in the Wifcon forums or in Ask-A-Professor. Many of the questioners are being impeded by the regulations, but they don't know it. The Panel should read the Nash & Cibinic Report, which contains recommendations for improving the regulations in every issue. 

Also, you'll reach more people if you don't make them write out their problem and justify why it should be changed. Most people at the working level are young, they would respond to something interactive and fun like Ranker.com. 

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On 5/22/2017 at 8:44 AM, Melissa Rider said:

All of you are welcome to be part of the solution.  If anyone would like to share your best practices and have them considered for insertion in the Section 809 Panel's submittal to Congress or there is a part of DFARS or FAR that is completely impeding your abilty to get work done, please submit your recoommendations, including what you think the final change needs to look like, to https://section809panel.org/contact/

Be the change you want to see in the world!

 

As someone who has provided inputs, particularly on the topic of simplifying and streamlining acquisitions, I was eager to read the panel's interim report; however, I was disappointed with the result.  Let's take, for example, the focus on clauses for Simplified Acquisition - I think the panel walked right into a distraction from more impactful issues and then focused on the lowest hanging fruits ($1 Coins and Texting While Driving clauses...).  Here are some brief thoughts in response and some that I've already provided through other means:

  • Most Simplified Acquisitions are commercial (run an FPDS-NG report to see) which means the analysis on page 23 is overstating the issue.
  • The biggest impediment to quicker Simplified Acquisitions is not selecting provisions/clauses for those acquisitions - any semi-proficient contracting professional should be able to review those particular prescriptions in less than a day as most of them are fairly straightforward.
  • I'm curious whether the panel has data other than the number of clauses and anecdotes that indicates selecting provisions/clauses for Simplified Acquisitions is a serious issue that extends the timeline to award - none was provided in the interim report. 
  • The panel should look into the acquisition workforce's under-use of FAR 13.5 procedures for eligible acquisitions - I imagine most acquisitions would be greatly simplified if they did not use FAR Part 15 Source Selection Procedures.  I hear complaints of complexity, but for many it is self imposed so they can get their "valuable Source Selection experience."

One final thought about the call to action - if we're serious about seeing change in the acquisition world, let's be bold - one recommendation for Simplified Acquisitions would be to (a) increase the SAT and/or (b) tie the synopsis and publicizing of contract actions requirements in FAR Part 5 to the SAT.  I know those recommendations have been provided to the panel - maybe there is just so much input that they haven't had the opportunity to consider them yet, but I believe that time spent on substantive issues like those would be much more beneficial than discussions of $1 Coins and Texting While Driving.

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18 hours ago, Melissa Rider said:

Well, Vern it sad you feel that way, but the Panel is trying to make positive change and we sincerely would like to hear what what everyonr who has a suggestion would like to say- If you have a best practice, the best way to desseminate it is to offer it to the Panel along with a description of how the practice will make the acquisition process better at the practical level.  I look forward to seeing great ideas from practitioners!

He provided some good examples in a previous blog entry that I suggest you may want to review:

 

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People are likely to put in the effort if there is reasonable assurance that their ideas have more than a snowballs chance at being acted on.

It would be helpful if the panel shows prior comments from the field that were acted upon. This will serve a couple of purposes: providing insight into the types of recommendations the panel acts on; and restoring faith that acquisition leaders are actually working hard to remove barriers that working-level acquisition teams suggest are impeding their ability to get work done.

The types of things that delay acquisitions are often capacity concerns. The administrative burden, lack of skill and manning is a nasty combination. CPARS, CORT Tool, EZ Source, Government Furnished Property (attachment and management), etc. It is routine to spend equal amounts of time dealing with data entry/metric issues (e.g. PDS compliance) as it is researching and crafting technical, professional, and sound source selections.

Process wise, can we change the DoD policy that if only one offer is received in response to a competitive solicitation and the solicitation allowed fewer than 30 days for receipt of proposals, the contracting officer shall resolicit for an additional 30 days? (Parts 208, 213, 214, 215, and Subpart 216.5)

By change I mean reduce the policy to  the statutory or regulatory minimum.

Raising the micro-purchase threshold to $25K would allow government-wide purchase cardholders to execute lower-level work purchasing agents snd others used to do; thus, allowing 1102-types more time to do the professional work.

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For those of you who have submitted comments to the Panel- thank you.

Don Mansfield- we are monitoring several websites to gauge what the community thinks- but we really need the background info regarding what in particular is an impediment and what the suggested solution is.  That information is not normally linked within the websites you mentioned.

Matthew- the interim report examples were selected to show those not involved in the acquisition process some of the impacts of using procurement as a mechanism for public policy.  The Panel is  going to make suggestions about how to change processes as well.  We have only been staffed since the beginning of January, so please stand by for the heavy lift ideas that take much more resarch and internal discussion.

Policy guy- I read the blogs.  I don't normally comment but DO consider what people are saying when I work on policy issues.

Jammaal- if you elect to submit a comment, you will get a response, and there will be a record about how your comment was resolved in the 809 Panel records, at a minimum.  If your comment requires further discussion, the Panel staff will contact you to arrange for that exchange of ideas and examples.

I am the leader of the effort to trace the origins of the FAR, DFARS, and PGI content to validate where all the statutory or policy requirements came from- so we can properly recommend to Congress what to repeal, amend, or add.  As part of this process, and as I have done my normal 1102 job every single day, I look for ways to eliminate the burdens on government and contractor workforces so we can better meet mission requirements- quicker and more on target for actual need/problem solution. I feel I am doing my part to try to be part of the solution.  I encourage everyone to also be part of the solution by providing us some information about what it looks like where you sit and what solutions would make it easier for you to do your acquisition jobs and support the mission in a way that gives you joy because you got a great outcome for the taxpayer.

Please submit your suggestions, early and often.

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Another set of acquisition reform recommendations come from Jeffrey P. Bialos, Against the Odds: Driving Defense Innovation in a Change-Resistant Ecosystem. These come to us from the Center for Transatlantic Relations, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University.

Against the Odds is intended to address the issue of the will to change. I was particularly taken by a statement made by the Honorable David Oliver, Jr. in a Special Foreword.

Quote

It is also no secret that, over the last several decades, there have been literally dozens of announced procurement reforms but no grand improvements. All of these remedies seem to follow a similar desultory trend. A good idea is proposed with enthusiasm, greeted with alacrity, organized with enthusiasm, but then is resisted by the first Uniformed Service which might have to change the slightest bit its operational paradigm. Thereafter, everyone collapses in obeisance.

I thought that pretty well summed up at least one of the issues associated with achieving successful change through acquisition reform.

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I've added a new discussion category to discuss the work of the Section 809 Panel.  You can find it in the discussion area.

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This will probably be my last mention of the Section 809 panel here, as Bob has created a new discussion category (i.e., Section 809 Panel) in the discussion area.

I just wanted to respond to Melissa’s call to action.

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All of you are welcome to be part of the solution.  If anyone would like to share your best practices and have them considered for insertion in the Section 809 Panel's submittal to Congress or there is a part of DFARS or FAR that is completely impeding your abilty to get work done, please submit your recoommendations, including what you think the final change needs to look like, to https://section809panel.org/contact/

Be the change you want to see in the world!

My eponymous self was already part of the solution, having discussed potential changes with a number of Panel members even before the names of the Panel members became official. And, subsequently, with them and with the Panel's support group.

However, responding directly to Melissa’s call to action, I have submitted a recommendation at the Panel's website as Emptor Cautus, recommending that most of the coverage in the Federal Acquisition Regulation concerning personal and nonpersonal services contracts be eliminated. It is based on outdated guidance, largely unnecessary, and may even be counterproductive to the efficient and effective acquisition of services in a mixed workforce environment.

The recommendation is not a new one. It was a recommendation of the Section 1423 Panel, which shares two members with the Section 809 Panel. You can see the findings and recommendations on the subject or personal services in the REPORT OF THE ACQUISITION ADVISORY PANEL to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the United States Congress, January 2007.

Why did I do this, after I had painted such a forlorn picture of acquisition reform? Why should you do it? Remember this, after Pandora had opened the box (or jar) given to her, and released all the evils that were held within upon the world, there was one thing remaining — Hope.

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I submitted a recommendation to the panel to raise the threshold in FAR 15.403-4(a) from $750,000 to $50 million and to exempt small businesses from the requirement to submit certified cost or pricing data.

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