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  1. Yesterday
  2. Is anyone aware of any restrictions on the use of the Government Purchase Card when using Other Transaction Authority?
  3. Everything Vern says is true. However, if "the Contractor demonstrates that performance or cost clearly indicates that the Contractor will earn a fee significantly above the target fee, [emphasis added]," and after considering Vern's advice about the sometimes fleeting nature of underruns, you still think payment at a higher rate is appropriate, then I would suggest that the contractor request that the order be modified to so provide. The contractor isn't allowed to invoice at a rate other than that provided in the order, so the order must be modified.
  4. Not if the Government only receives benefit comparable to its cost.
  5. Therefore augmenting appropriated funds to develop a product? Or sharing the development costs? Who owns the rights? Etc. Many possible questions could be asked. .
  6. Government would not be the sole funder. It's "crowdfunded".
  7. I was assuming you weren't interested!!
  8. Hey! No soliciting.
  9. FYI, I've now submitted 10 recommendations to the Panel (all related to CAS stuff).
  10. Relationship status: Currently Soliciting Bids.
  11. I think Kickstarter may even agree here, assuming the Government is the sole funder. If there are many other funders, it would be nice to spread the cost of widget development around. If different federal agencies were funding without each others' knowledge, would that tick off the budget people? If the dollar amounts were large? I don't think you get to know who the other funders are. I have contributed to these before and I was one of many small funders. Kickstarter was able to aggregate my contribution with many others and throw a large wad of cash at the "creators". Aggregating lots of small contributions is Kickstarter's main purpose, I think. I can also confirm the funders' credit cards get charged prior to work commencing, not after completion and delivery. The financing issue is a great one to raise.
  12. According to USASpending.gov, the government spent $472,158,562,285 last year through contracting for services and products with large and small companies nationwide. This was a $34 billion increase over the previous year, and 2017 is anticipating another increase, especially in Department of Defense spending. None of the noted totals include entitlements, grants or non-contract obligations. The real questions most contractors ask are what does the government really want, and how does it decide who wins what contract? As an initial requirement, most government agencies must follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and agency FAR supplements, such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). These extensive legal rules are available online for anyone who is interested in learning about them as the relevant portions become part of every federal contract as stated in the contract paperwork. Some agencies such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. Postal Service have their own rules and regulations outside of FAR and typical FAR supplements. It is wise to educate oneself regarding targeted agencies’ contracting rules. Many contractors think that lowest price is always the deciding factor. While the federal government is mandated to spend our tax dollars wisely, lowest price does not always win. Most often, the decision-makers are looking for the best deal. Often, the best deal includes a very competitive price, balanced with several other factors such as proof of abilities, clear capacity to perform and strong references. The challenge for all contractors is how to avoid the “chasing the bid” mentality and instead determine how to identify and reach decision-makers early enough in the purchase process to effectively and legally influence and educate those decision-makers in the best way to write the requirements. The answer to this conundrum is taken directly from a government source, the United States Air Force, in its industry outreach process. Other government entities have been proven to follow similar if not exactly alike guidelines. The Air Force states that these five processes must be incorporated into any company’s business development tactics: Market Research, Business and Financial Plan, Network, Communication & Relationships, Past Performance and Continuous Marketing. Market research seems to be obvious but it is surprising how many businesses fail to complete this first requirement. Instead they wait until they meet with the target and at that point ask them for opportunity recommendations. This is a huge mistake and will result in the decision-maker closing the door on future opportunities. One would be better served checking FBO.gov for sources sought notices, solicitations and records of previously-awarded contracts through the Federal Procurement Data System as well as the target agency’s business forecast and budget. The business and financial plan is a mystery to most businesses regarding federal contracting. In this case, the decision-maker is NOT asking the contractor for its entire business plan, but rather what the plan is to finance the targeted opportunity should it be awarded. This little-known step will go a long way in mitigating perceived risk for businesses of all sizes, especially for any business that may be pursuing opportunities which are larger than ever won in the past. Elements to include in the opportunity financial plan include projections of anticipated contract-oriented costs (payroll, overhead, products, legal, accounting, subcontracting, etc.), the timeline of those costs, anticipated invoicing and payment dates, and a letter from the bank of the or other financial institution stating that a line of credit is available to finance at least the first two billing cycles, until payment is received. When the Air Force states that it wants a contractor to network, communicate and build relationships, it means that no matter what it takes, one should network by attending all possible in-person events, communicate regarding sources sought notices, participate in industry days for specific opportunities and make recommendations to improve services and products used by the agency. By being consistent in these efforts the contractor will benefit by building a strong relationship with all decision-makers. This is difficult to do and requires a commitment of time, effort and money. One must determine the short list of targets with whom to make this financial and time commitment as it is impossible to perform this level of effort for every possible federal target. The fourth element, Past Performance, is a legal term as defined in FAR Part 42.15 Contractor Performance Information and elsewhere in the FAR. Essentially, the FAR states that “past performance information (including the ratings and supporting narratives) is relevant information, for future source selection purposes, regarding a contractor’s actions under previously awarded contracts or orders. It includes, for example, the contractor’s record of: (1) Conforming to requirements and to standards of good workmanship; (2) Forecasting and controlling costs; (3) Adherence to schedules, including the administrative aspects of performance; (4) Reasonable and cooperative behavior and commitment to customer satisfaction; (5) Reporting into databases (see subpart 4.14, and reporting requirements in the solicitation provisions and clauses referenced in 9.104-7); (6) Integrity and business ethics; and (7) Business-like concern for the interest of the customer. Most losing bids do not address these seven elements of past performance and instead serve only as a record of describing projects similar to the targeted opportunity. Winning contractors take into account and describe at least all seven elements and further offer proof of differentiators and the value add for the project. The final recommendation of continuous marketing is lost on most contractors. This marketing, when successful, targets all decision-makers and incorporates both a corporate messaging process performed throughout the year as well as ongoing an individual effort of the business development or capture person assigned to that target. Rarely do companies perform both processes simultaneously. And it is even more rare that this is done well, with appropriate messages crafted for each layer of decision-maker. This translates to different messaging for the program layer, other messaging for the contracting layer and yet different messaging for the small business representatives. To see success, listen to the customer and give them what they want, what they really really want and even outright ask for. Gloria Larkin, CEO and Founder Gloria Larkin, President of TargetGov, is a nationally-recognized government contracting marketing and business development expert. She has been interviewed on MSNBC, and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, INC Magazine, Entrepreneur Start-ups Magazine, and Government Executive magazine. Gloria Larkin serves as the Educational Foundation Chairman of the Board of Directors and is the past National Procurement Committee Co-Chair for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a non-partisan organization representing over 6,200,000 women nationwide. She is the author of the book, “The Basic Guide to Government Contracting” and “The Veterans Business Guide: How to Build a Successful Government Contracting Business” now in its fourth printing. She has spoken at international, national, regional and local conferences including recently University of Oxford Saïd Business School Power Shift Forum for Women in the World Economy 2013, the Annual National Veteran’s Conference, and the OSDBU Procurement Conference regarding practical, bottom-line focused business development best practices. She has received numerous accolades including: The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women in Business Champion for Maryland 2010, Enterprising Women magazine’s 2010 Enterprising Women of the Year honoree, one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2010, 2007 and 2004, and Maryland’s Top 100 Minority Business Enterprises in 2008 and 2006. TargetGov: www.targetgov.com Phone: 1-866-579-1346 Email: glorialarkin@targetgov.com GovCon Voices is a regular feature dedicated to providing SmallGovCon readers with candid news, insight and commentary from government contracting thought leaders. The opinions expressed in GovCon Voices are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Koprince Law LLC or its attorneys. View the full article
  13. Joel, Completely off-topic but the SAT sections are basically the same today. The difference(s) include: optional essay, and optional "subject matter" focused SATs. I know this because my son just took his test(s). Interesting fact: he scored exactly the same as I did more than 30 years ago, only our scores were reversed. He scored my math score in reading, and he scored my reading score in math. We're still waiting for the results of his subject matter SATs....
  14. Vern's excellent description above led me to realize that the phrase "to some degree" seems to be contradictory to "definite". How would something "become definite to some degree"? 😜 No offense, Des... At any rate, thanks for the lesson, Vern. And thanks for the question, Des. 🤓 Edit: Des, the fact that it took me more than a half hour to write the above post is a reflection of my most excellent ranking in about the 47 th percentile, Nationally, in "Writing and Language"* on my SAT exam. That was 51 or 52 years ago. My parents made me re-take it, whereupon my score in that part went down...👨‍🎓 I did score in the 90+% percentile on Math and Reading*. 🤠 * Or whatever the sections and categories were back then.
  15. It's a matter of the law of contracts and of offer and acceptance. An offer is a promise or set of promises. What does the proposal say? Does the "approach" consist of a set of clear and specific promises, or does it just describe what the offeror is thinking of doing? Clear and specific promises are binding. Descriptions unaccompanied by promissory language probably are not. See the definition of promise in Restatement, Second, Contracts § 2: The mere fact that an offeror describes an "approach" in its proposal does not bind the offeror to follow that approach unless the wording clearly communicates a promise to perform in that way and in only that way. Do the Government personnel reading and evaluating the proposal know how to interpret the proposal language from the standpoint of the law of contracts?
  16. Last week
  17. Doesn't it become definite to some degree when it is put in writing and submitted as part of a proposal?
  18. Wow! I'm sorry for you that you've said those things. You know, I never said that you are wrong. I only I said that I disagreed and offered a different point of view. Why so upset? Why not just explain in your own words, like I did in my last post, instead of relying on obscure references? I must admit that I had not heard of thesaurus.com or the Oxford Living English Dictionaries until you mentioned them. Why not the Oxford English Dictionary? The most comprehensive English dictionary in existence. THE dictionary. Or the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed. (Justice Scalia's favorite)? Or Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Online? Is it because they don't support your claim that concept and principle are synonymous? But, then, I don't think we have a dictionary issue. I think we have a conceptual issue. So how about the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, both of which are academic and peer-reviewed? Well, I'm pretty sure Bob will delete your comment about shorts dropping and -$$ kissing. They're the most flagrantly offensive comments I've ever read here. But I'm not offended, just astonished.
  19. <sarcasm> Vern, I bow before your excellence and superiority, and grovel in my own worthlessness. You are the exalted one, the only one, the supreme master. If you were here and dropped your shorts, I would kiss your -$$. </sarcasm> You're sad, Vern. How about thesaurus.com or the Oxford Living English Dictionaries? They also allow for principle and concept as synonyms. There was no error in my usage. Sad.
  20. The creator chose to use Kickstarter before the Government ever knew of the project. The Government learns of the project through Kickstarter and determines that the reward offered can directly benefit the Government.
  21. Under a CPIF contract the contractor earns the incentive fee when it completes the work and the contracting officer determines the total allowable cost. The current underrun could disappear in a heartbeat. The parties might not realize there was actually an overrun until after the contract is physically complete and the participants have gone on to other jobs. Don't assume that the current underrun is the final result.
  22. Then why not just fund the widget through normal Part 13 procedures? What's up with going through Kickstarter? How does that make anything better?
  23. I disagree. You can define concept and principle any way that you please and rely on Wikipedia and Google dictionary if you like. I don’t consider those to be consistent or reliable sources of information. Concepts are the constituents of thought. They are general ideas. When we see an animal trotting down the street and we think, "It’s a dog," it’s because we have a concept (image, general idea) of “dog” in our head and the individual animal matches up. Principles are thoughts that communicate fundamental truths, norms, rules, guidance, etc. For example, “One verb, and one only, must occur as verb in every proposition….” (Bertrand Russell, Principles of Mathematics, 1903, Vol. I, Ch. 4). “Contracting officers shall promote and provide for full and open competition” (FAR 6.101). Principles are built on concepts. You cannot understand those two examples unless you first understand the concepts of “verb” and “full and open competition.” If you have a good grasp of the concept of “evaluation factor” and “subfactor” you'll be better able to follow this principle stated in FAR 15.304: "(b) Evaluation factors and significant subfactors must... (2) Support meaningful comparison and discrimination between and among competing proposals." There is a concept of "equitable adjustment" and a principle of equitable adjustment. If you understand the concept you’ll be able to understand and follow the principle. And so forth. Contracting personnel should be taught concepts before or while they are taught rules. Thus, before trainees are taught the rules about discussions with offerors within a competitive range, they should be taught the concepts of competitive range, exchange, clarification, communication, proposal revision, and discussion. Before referring trainees to case law, they should be taught the concept of stare decisis, guiding precedent, binding precedent, and other legal concepts. Then, perhaps, they should be introduced to the principles of case law analysis. If someone is reading a rule in the FAR, they should ask themselves: What are the constituent concepts? and Do I understand them? Texts like The Government Contracts Reference Book can help, but they are not the be all and end all. ji20874, this quarrel started when you said: No you don't. You might use the term "correct principles" to describe what you call concepts. But the word "principles" does not describe what I call concepts. You and I don't share a common concept of concept if you think the words concept and principle are synonymous.
  24. Hmm...maybe there's still a way... In DoD depending on department or agency notable exceptions to the advance payment using GPC are training and subscriptions. Those don't seem to get the job done. Chapel GPC programs fall entirely outside of the FAR...could Kickstarter be compatible with it? Could it fit their mission? I doubt it, but I don't know. I don't like to give up on an opportunity to do the government's business; So on to appropriated fund GPC... I say, why fret about ADA before we have thiroughly considered what we are buying? What is our requirement? And what authority exists that allows advance payment? The DoD FMR is okay with advance payment on Copyrights and Patents (DoD FMR Vol 10, Ch. 4 , paragraph 040305). Isn't that what this is? We get lifetime rights to use? Is it an ADA violation if we buy a patent and it does not work as hoped? Or is it an ADA violation if we buy a patent that we never use? How is this different? At a fundamental level is not our requirement the permanent right to an opportunity, whatever that opportunity affords us? I think commercial transactions in the government's interest should be viewed with a strong bias toward commerciality, whatever that might mean. Sometimes we just don't know how not to act like a monopsony. Now about using the card, the Air Force GPC, for example; some of the advance payment exceptions at DoD FMR Ch 4 are already permitted in the Air Force appropriated fund GPC guide (AFI 64-117). Their general prohibition on GPC advance payments is at paragraph 4.5.1.15. So, I say Ask. There is a waiver process near the beginning of the guide,; use it. The authority to make advance payments for copyrights and patents is already stated in FMR, so if I wanted to do it, I'd send a request above my operational unit through my MAJCOM Contracting Division to SAF/AQC for approval. I'd cite the FMR authority and describe the requirement and include any required functional area approvals required (I can't think of any for this one). If approved, I would also expect to have to elevate a request via eMail to adjust the merchant category code on the card account to allow the transaction to go through at the bank; my MAJCOM GPC Level 3 should be able to do that. From cardholder to SAF/AQC, the GPC waiver request could have eyes on by as few as 4 and as many as 7 or 8 levels of government, when a final decision is made...which kind of validates the original questioner's concern.... Or if GPC is not accepted by the vendor, which is a real possibility, a micro-purchase can be done via contract, which in DoD, unless in exceptional circumstances, requires a written determination by a general or flag officer or member of the SES IAW DFARS 213.370 (b) (1). Also, kind of validates the original questioner's concern, doesn't it?
  25. Here are a few ideas: 1) Veterans Self Help and VA Watchdog (with a mission to Guard the Guardians). There is a lot to cope with and navigate and many who have questions while others have lessons learned; education, hiring, job search, careers, and medical are examples; watchfulness should help the VA get the resources and realistic plans it needs to deliver on its mission to our veterans. Or 2) We are saying goodbye to the WWII generation...help us to do that and remember them, their stories and recollections. We have so much to learn from them and so little time to do it in. Or 3) As a society we need to learn and embrace the ABCs of Economics. Ignorance is costing us our liberty. The practical value of understanding such principles such as marginal analysis, substitution, opportunity cost, and sunk costs is incalculable. Economic illiteracy renders us as so many sheep to be led about and devoured by wolves. Can we discuss this, collectively show our ignorance, and take a step or two into the light? Maybe such a forum could help. Or 4) Learn what's new in history. For me that's practically everything since I have so much to learn. If we could connect it with our travel plans to learn about as we experience new places and people and leave our own breadcrumb trails behind us.
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