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Matt_mcginn

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Everything posted by Matt_mcginn

  1. When a source selection takes longer than World War II

    I like it! Contracting approach that is relational, rather than transactional. That would be a good approach to conducting business.
  2. This is what is wrong with government contracting.

    Vern, Absolutely not! Montmartre deserves to have a cool 70 year old like yourself hanging out all night long listening' to jazz...no curfew!!! Enjoy Paris - it's one of my favorite cities. Cheers.
  3. Career Changes

    Vern, I'd like to work with your friend. If you say good, Really good, then it is someone I want to know. I have met few Federal servants who are "relatively young SES" and chosen to be executive director of anything...let alone everything.
  4. Source Selection for Commercial Items

    Vern, I know you're very busy, but did you have a chance to review DFARS 215.300 and the DoD Source Selection Procedures? Page 10, paragraph 2.2 of the DoD Source Selection Procedures manual states, "An SSP is required for all best–value, negotiated, competitive acquisitions under FAR Part 15. The SSA shall approve the SSP before the final solicitation is issued." Also, Chris M. wrote on 19 July, "FAR Part 12 buys, as a whole, are not exempt from the guidance, so if you are not using FAR Subpart 12.6, and the buy is greater than SAT, then you need to follow the guide and prepare a SSP." /bt/ The basis of DoD's source selection procedures' requirement for an SSP is when you conduct a "best value, negotiated, competitive acquisitions under FAR Part 15". An example of agency policy/procedure covering this can be viewed at http://www.409csb.ar...9-12.pdf. Look at the reference cited for the requirement to have an SSP: "DoD Source Selection Procedures, 2.2 and AFARS 5115.303© " Also, it mentions that the preparer is the Program Office/Requiring Activity and legal and MOD (policy) will review it. The lawyers have never written an SSP and the policy people may not recognize why the SSP was included in the package. Still, the Army has the lawyers review it and provide a recommendation to the PARC. The KO and Contract Specialist spent very little time on the SSP and didn't review it too closely, so the lawyers have a field day with spelling, formatting comments. It is unfortunate, because the 51C (E6/E7) or GS-1102 specialist shouldn't be the target of the blame. Cody's question is difficult to address on this forum, but I suspect Cody is asking since there is nobody at Cody's agency who knows how to answer his/her question. What agency you work for and what the policies are in that agency, is the basis of whether a source selection plan is required or not. DFARS 215.300 states, "Contracting officers shall follow the principles and procedures in Director, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy memorandum dated March 4, 2011, Department of Defense Source Selection Procedures, when conducting negotiated, competitive acquisitions utilizing FAR part 15 procedures." Therefore, if you work for DoD and are conducting a source selection for an acquisition of a commercial item valued in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold, AND choose to NOT follow the streamlined procedure for evaluation and solicitation in FAR Subpart 12.6, you must have an approved Source Selection plan (emphasis added) apparently. I wonder if the first response given to people like Cody on something like this is, "FAR Part 15 requires a Source Selection Plan". I have heard that said a couple of times in my office. The DoD source selection procedures give some bullets about what to put in a plan, but Army appears to not have a "streamlined template" and I haven't seen a consistent template being used. Maybe TIMBUK2 could direct Cody to the template he/she was referring to in his 17 July answer to Cody's question.
  5. An agenda for the new OFPP Administrator

    Vern, Bravissimo! A great list of fantasy. Your writings, philosophies, and challenges to THINK are a big reason that I keep striving in this field. You are a scholar and a gentleman. Very respectfully, Matt
  6. Payment for Pre-Construction Submittals

    An interesting point in this discussion: based on the fact that the people "administering" the construction contract do not even know what the Payments clause says, each contractor is treated differently in performance due to arbitrary and capricious decisions made by those in charge (organizationally). Moreover, the same people in charge don't really care to know what the Payment clause authorizes in terms of payments. It amazes me that incompetent contract staff supporting the incompetent engineering staff (usually engineers are the ones "in charge" on construction contracts that I have been involved with), persist in making up new terms and conditions concerning the payment of work items. I understand they are trying to use it as a negotiation position, but they don't have the authority to do so. Vern, how did you handle situations in which the payments submitted by Contractors included costs that should not be paid for? Depending on the Agency rules, technical representatives usually approve percentage complete work and based on those agreements, an invoice is provided to the Contracting Officer for certification. It takes a savvy KO who sets time aside to review the invoiced work items and walks the job site regularly to determine if the amounts are accurate.
  7. Tea Party: Here's one for you.

    Nice. You're right - there should be shame. You have probably heard of Gov't managers complaining about being unable to improve productivity due in large part to the security people have as civil servants (public sector employees). The complaint is that people with authority are really unable to hold bad workers accountable and are certainly unable to fire people. It's amazing to me that those gutless managers stay in their cushy positions, allowing people under them to not do the jobs they are being paid to do. The status quo continues to be reinforced instead of being challenged and "lifers" train the new people how to be worthless as well. Your blog is a serious charge against the ridiculous state of affairs we find ourselves in mid-2010. I was told the other day about a certain contracting office where ALL of the Contracting Officers have at least one dedicated contractor staff performing "acquisition/procurement" support for them. Amazing.
  8. Service Contract (O&M) valued at $450 million??

    "There is a way for contracting personnel to escape their second-class citizenship, but it is a long, arduous professional journey. Most contracting people simply won't (or maybe can't) go that route." I think this is a profound statement. I have only met a few contracts people in the Federal Gov't who are capable AND willing to go the route Vern is describing. Moreover, I have not met one 1102 in a Supervisory position who comes close to implementing some of the practices Vern recommends for starting the journey to make our craft credible as a professional part of the acquisition team. That is a problem! Escaping second-class citizenship is helped by having support from contracts leadership (maybe Chiefs or Supervisory Contract Specialists) who are competent and aggressive in pursuing a professional relationship with other departments. In my view, this does not exist...and the technical departments prefer it that way. When weak supervisors give in consistently on basic policy and procedures, technical representatives smell blood in the water and start to completely disregard contracting officer authority. I am friends with the construction engineers and designers I work with, so I can get them to level with me (we fight/argue a lot): They say, "Matt, it is really hard to change. We have dealt with so many contracts people who went from having a High School diploma and being a GS-5, to overnight being promoted to GS-11 or GS-12 and still only having a High School diploma. Why should I have to 'get permission' from a person who doesn't even have a clue what is being built out in the field? No, I'd rather get the lawyers to tell me whether or not I am breaking the law since the lawyers have the real training to back up their advice."
  9. Polling the construction KO's out there. 1) Do contracting officers in the agencies you work in, always receive the submittals, obtain Technical Gov't Rep. review and then approve/return to the contractor? In the USACE's Contract Administration guide found at: http://www.hnd.usace.army.mil/chemde/cap/chp9.pdf the Resident Engineer, as the COR, signs all transmittal sheets. What if the contract specifies the contracting officer as the Government's approval authority? 2) Are there certain submittals which follow the contracting officer approval process above, but others that do not? For instance, construction submittals (i.e. safety plan, slump test, lab results) which are obviously reviewed by the technical team? 3) How do contracting officers out there handle the situation of variances? UFGS 01 33 describes these and the basis is the contractor submitting substitutions for specific types of materials required by the contract. If submittals are not approved by the contracting officer, it seems there might be a situation where a variance is constructively approved, without contracting officer involvement whatsoever. Interested to hear how contruction KO's have handled this and set things up on new contracts at the Pre-Con.
  10. Submittals - Design Build Construction

    Joel and Don, Thank you. Very interesting! Best regards, Matt
  11. Submittals - Design Build Construction

    Joel, Ok - so the last statement of my previous post accurately describes the way ACOE's operates. That is interesting - I would be very interested to learn more about the ACOE's development plan. Do they take Engineers and then train them in CON classes to Level 1, 2 and 3? In NAVFAC all ACO and warrant authority is with an individual occupying an 1102 or a CEC officer billet. Warrant authority being within Acquisition then, civilian engineers are appointed as Contracting Officer's Authorized Representatives (COAR) and that authority is delegated by the CCO. This means having the authority to negotiate agreements on in-scope changes up to a certain threshold (capped at $100k) and processing the changes in the End To End procurement systems (eContracts, FIS and SPS). With regard to your question about final design, NAVFAC accepts the final design and incoporates it into the contract to formally establish the agreed upon design and aims to not allow the contractor to re-think what they've designed as they get to the end of the project. Many disputes were occuring when the contractor would argue after design that they had made an error which exceeded the RFP and tried to "strip out" that work. Under the NAVFAC incorporation of final design clause, the contractor is not relieved from errors or ommissions and maintains the risk to deliver the project in accordance with an order of precedence clause in the contract. Notwithstanding this NAVFAC procedure, there are constant contract administration battles that start after award and continue well after BOD. I am sure you have fought many of the same battles to ensure the Government's interests are upheld.
  12. Submittals - Design Build Construction

    Joel, I just read your reply from over a month ago. There was no insinuation written in my post - I reject your grouchiness too. :-) I was asking the question because I really do not know what is happening currently at construction offices. In my office (Navy), no submittals are received by the ACO, with the exception of preconstruction admin (Bonds, Insurance). Wrt D-B, the Final Design is approved/accepted, signed by the Resident Engineer and then forwarded to the ACO for modification incorporating the design into the contract. A good friend of mine, in an Airforce construction office, says that the ACO receives ALL submittals, farms them out to the respective technical rep. with a buck slip, and then monitors to return within the prescribed time. Go figure. Recognize too that in D-B many submittals are Gov't surveillance only. I agree with you that PE's and Registered Architects are skilled and very capable in the contruction contract administration arena. I have met a lot of engineers who have business sense and a good handle on case law and precedent, and they make the decisions when it comes to every real contractual action on a project. In fact, many in my organization have snatched the responsibilities defined under the acquisition system definition of "Contracting Officer". For example, the UFGS have the term scattered throughout and it seems to lose its meaning. This has led to some confusion, in my opinion, about what position "Contracting Officer" holds in the organization. I am sure Vern Edwards has a clear idea about this issue, and possibly others on this forum, but they are not in positions of power that set policy and organizational structure. I see contracting taking a back seat way too much. On the other hand, there are many 1102's I have come across who are perfectly happy to not have to deal with the contractor; negotiate, bargain, make fast business decisions, push the contracting processes. Instead, an 8-5 gig with little hassle or debate throughout the day is their preferred course. So, from what you stated, you are an Engineer, with Level III DAWIA in contracting, and a former Division Level Chief of Construction? I understand the ACOE is set up in this way across the enterprise - ACO usually means an engineer who is cross-trained and fully certified to execute Contracting Officer duties in accordance with appointment from the contracting authority.
  13. Thinking About The Tool

    Vern, You have hit the nail on the head. As a current user of "the tool" it is clear to me that the position of contracting officer is now very simply, the one who processes in PD2. I don't know if my current organization ever had the contracting types that you hearken back to in your writings, but it is clear to me that many of my current 1102 colleagues are perfectly happy doing the sedentary work of pushing paper and playing procurement cop from the computer. Instead of hustling to ascertain the facts of the situation, negotiate and issue a change order, the contracting officer all too often plays the martyr and complains something was not done "by the book" without ever doing any real constructive work. They are viewed as an obstructionist and not someone who could be considered a trusted business advisor. Aside from making PD2 work properly, there is also waiting on the financial management folks to receive funding and issue an obligation authority in order for PD2 to be able to kick out the desired SF30. This takes away further from one's credibility due to the delay. Let me tell you, it takes some time to become good with SPS. But, once this happens it should be a given so that KO's move on to doing the real work - making agreements using sound business judgement. SPS is really not a difficult system, but it is really not an efficient tool either. Respectfully, Matt
  14. Suspension of Work

    FAR 52.242-14 states: (a) The Contracting Officer may order the Contractor, in writing, to suspend, delay, or interrupt all or any part of the work of this contract for the period of time that the Contracting Officer determines appropriate for the convenience of the Government. ( If the performance of all or any part of the work is, for an unreasonable period of time, suspended, delayed, or interrupted (1) by an act of the Contracting Officer in the administration of this contract, or (2) by the Contracting Officer?s failure to act within the time specified in this contract (or within a reasonable time if not specified), an adjustment shall be made for any increase in the cost of performance of this contract (excluding profit) necessarily caused by the unreasonable suspension, delay, or interruption, and the contract modified in writing accordingly. However, no adjustment shall be made under this clause for any suspension, delay, or interruption to the extent that performance would have been so suspended, delayed, or interrupted by any other cause, including the fault or negligence of the Contractor, or for which an equitable adjustment is provided for or excluded under any other term or condition of this contract. Question #1 - If it has been determined that the delay is both excusable (Defaults clause) and compensable (Suspension of Work clause), what is the best way to isolate the costs that should be considered for providing relief of actual costs for FOOH, Design and/or HOOH as a result of the delay? Typically contractors try to load up a cost pool to come up with a daily rate and then multiply times the number of days of delay. However, if there is no idle equipment and only very limited labor costs as a result of suspension, is there anything due the contractor? Question #2 - What would be the reasons to NOT issue a suspension of work, if you know there is going to be a delay in giving NTP or allowing some part of critical path works to commence? Isn't the contractor already on notice about suspension at the convenience of the Gov't, by virtue of the clause being in the contract?
  15. Suspension of Work

    Joel, I want to make sure I understand what you mean by variable costs (costs which vary based upon amount of work) in the case of a D-B contractor who has not mobilized on site (the reason is due to the delay cause). It seems the only costs that should be contemplated for providing relief is: Daily FOOH - fixed portions (as per your post): salary of staff, equipment, vehicles, etc. Design costs: salary of A-E subcontractor & other misc. costs HOOH % rate on the total Also included in settlement is time extension - not necessarily all of the days of the delay period. Given that you have experience negotiating and settling modifications for the above, can you provide advice of "what to look out for" or other helpful information to make sure a fair adjustment is made? I've determined that the precedent for Eichleay has not been met. Therefore, it seems to me a negotiation of what fixed costs are allocable for the daily field office cost and other misc. costs associated with field staff, design staff. Is there ever a situation where HOOH as a % is not added onto the total of actual costs?
  16. Federal Contracting Myths

    Vern, I appreciate your candid response...and totally understand your position. Hopefully there are some leaders like you who can work towards putting together the things you mentioned. Especially the think tank and personnel policy initiatives!! Wishing you all the best in the new year with your current endeavors.
  17. Federal Contracting Myths

    Vern: The question is whether or not you have been contacted or have the ambition to really change things by taking a post at OMB or as a CAO at an agency. Your comment about acquisition plans sums it up - you have walked in the shoes of GS-14 and GS-15 acquisition executives and could probably bring some much needed backbone...and to really demand a seat at the table and LEAD. Typically the debate that I've seen over acq planning comes down to the Program Manager, who is responsible for the acquisition plan, simply dumping the already decided acquisition strategy to the contracting dept. for output in MS Word format. That means it has nothing to do with shaping the destiny of the acquisition anymore, but is simply a typing assignment instead. If the Chief is not doing as you did - insisting that contracts takes a leadership role in acquisition planning, then it really doesn't matter what 1102s think about "This is the way that it ought to go." That being said, I do think there are still some people out there who are like you and want to write everything: the statement of work, the acquisition plan, the source selection plan, and the source selection decision document. Hell, I'm one of those guys still (mostly SOWs). It makes technical specialists very upset when an 1102 seeks the helm and influences the process though. I have yet to see someone like you, in a position of power in Government, who could affect real change in the acquisition arena and also establish a framework that allows young 1102s to lay the foundation for a professional future. You are always talking about taking pride in doing real work; something you can be proud of. I think you would be successful at really shaking up the status quo.
  18. Federal Contracting Myths

    That 10% profit is fair and reasonable. If a contractor doesn't ask for money when a change is made, it is not a change. That contracting must always prepare the acquisition plan.
  19. Federal Contracting Myths

    Vern: Got it - I guess I did misunderstand when I heard you say that during one of your talks. I read 1.601 and 1.602 again. Thank you. Perhaps I should start a new thread concerning the second question I asked you. Or, if you want to email WE are interested to know. I think the only way to change the federal acquisition system is to get competent, passionate leaders who care about the subject, into the key positions, rather than political cronies. Yes We Can.
  20. Federal Contracting Myths

    Vern, I've heard you talk about the myth you mentioned before in person. Instead of having to wait for Don's report of myths and facts, it would be very helpful to understand what you mean exactly. Would you please explain why this is a myth please? To go further, since you are imparting your wisdom by providing this myth, are you pointing this out so current federal contracting officers will stop perpetuating this myth? If so, what are your recommendations for accomplishing this? Each time someone says this, are we to correct them politely and explain all the others who can actually obligate the Government? BTW - your blogs are great. Has anyone from the president-elect's camp contacted you yet for OMB acq czar post yet? How about one of the other key agency CAO positions? Probably does not pay enough for you though, right? I am sure most of us on the wifcon forum would support your nomination to a key position of influence. At least then it would not just be website recommendations. Cheers, Matt
  21. Suspension of Work

    Joel, I just read your member profile. Disregard my last question. Obviously, you know D-B construction and the USACE processes.
  22. Suspension of Work

    Dear Joel, Thank you for your complete opinion. You asked "Regarding "design costs", what are you referring to? Not enough information to formulate any opinion or advice." In the case of a D-B construction project, typically an A-E is teamed with a GC and there is therefore Design-specific costs associated with a delay, due to acceleration of design submittals so as to not impact critical path. Many times, accelerations happen outside the sphere of influence of contracting and then when all is said and done, there is more or less a number already worked out between the PM and the GC for costs associated. Tricky part is that another person's name is on the SF-30 signature line. While I understand and appreciate the myth Vern mentioned in another post "A Contracting Officer is the only one who can obligate the Gov't", certainly an 1102 IS the only one that technical staff wants to have sign so that their butt is not on the line. I also agree with your comments about constructive suspensions vs. a notification of suspension. Different schools of thought appear to be out there and I do not accept the advice that it might not be advantageous to mention the FAR clause and notify the contractor accordingly. ANY reasonable person should be able to see what you pointed out - (1) there is potentially worse liability if a notice of suspension is not issued and (2) all it takes is a constructive suspension for the contractor to have entitlement to request an adjustment. Joel, I can't remember at the moment - are you current or former Army/Navy construction CO by chance? Or are you with GSA as your signature indicates (GSA PBS has a "Sail On" mantra on everything) ?
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