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joel hoffman

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Posts posted by joel hoffman

  1. 4 hours ago, joan said:

    final rule February 2012, if I recall correctly.

    ROI (Return on Investment) I performed internet search and was looking to see what "efficiencies" have resulted from this final rule.  Anyone?


    Here is a link to the final rule published on 24 Feb 2012 that Joan appears to be referring to:


  2. ...and it doesn't appear that "major system configuration change desired by the USMC" would fall under the descriptions of a "commercial off the shelf item" or  a "non-developmental item" at:


    So, are you mixing apples and oranges by combining Army and Marine Corps product requirements in one acquisition vehicle? 

  3. You really don't know a darned thing about that acquisition or about that person. The man was known to be a straight shooter. Tough but truthful. We asked him why the price for the current dorm project was so much higher than the previous years' prices for the same design.  He told us why the contract, as designed, was not affordable. It was a cut and paste of earlier projects and didn't fit the market conditions at the time. He had built the last dorm project using the same design. There weren't  any local mason labor force or masonry subcontractors available due to recent hurricanes.  The structural framing and cladding design was very inefficient.   He asked us what really mattered to the Air Force. We learned that their  objective was that the new dorm must match the appearance of the other dorms. He told us how we could meet their underlying objective and committed to do that and to meet the budget. The man doesn't deserve your degradation.  Feel free to stop now. 

    I didnt say the Air Force personnel were stupid.  I said that they made a wasteful and stupid decision. That decision needlessly cost the taxpayers 23% more than the programmed amount for the project - a $1.5 million dollar bust.  25% over the PA is the statutory limit for gosh sakes. There were seven bidders. His firm was local and he did lots of work at the bases in Florida. He was the low bidder and the only one who really knew the problem.   He was the only one willing to work with the government and the taxpayers to find a solution. 

    The customer chose to meet a self imposed deadline for award to make their metric for timeliness of award look better, regardless of cost. The project had a duration of about 18 months and could have been awarded within 12-13 months into the 60 month period of availability of the funds for obligation. 

    Believe it or not, some of us actually believe in serving both the mission and the taxpayers. 

  4. Obviously, you haven't worked Air Force MILCON programs (5 year money) in a long time. One of their goals was to award all Current year MILCON projects by the end of the fiscal year. Even when Congress delayed authorization and appropriations til mid FY.  Everything would get backed up for September award along with the O&M funded projects.

    Which kicks in the supply and demand factors. The seller is well aware of time pressures to award and the slew of solicitations. Which kicks in haste and stupid decisions.  

    We could have made an award within two weeks. Why the heck would we convert the IFB to an RFP (FAR 14.404-1) , ask the bidders for price proposals and hold price discussions with them if we couldn't follow through with an amendment, revised price proposals and award? 

    Our District was doing lots of negotiated design-build and construction acquisitions for both Air Force and Army then.

    We could have easily done it within three to four weeks with an award one to two weeks into the next FY - to save $1.5 million?  But we could also have squeezed it in within two weeks with some concentrated effort and overtime.

    In addition to handling the source selection and negotiation process, as a professional engineer, I could have written the revised technical requirements myself or could have suprervised  Engineering Division's efforts.  I often came up with design fixes during source selections. 

    Our negotiated acquisitions didn't take longer than WWII.  

  5. Vern , i was responding to H2H's opinion.

    There was no legal requirement to award the AF MILCON project  by 30 September.  However, the biggest lesson learned was not to prescribe the structural system or specific exterior architectural materials.  

    The Air Force was in the process of making D-B their default method at that time. D-B wasn't the issue. I suspect that the metrics for the personnel performance ratings of the individual decision makers were the underlying issues and motivation to make an award at any price within the Statutory limits by 30 September. 

  6.  Vern, I don't really care what you think about my example or who I offend with that story . I know that we would have saved the taxpayers a million and 1/2 dollars and the customer were only concerned about an award by 30 September. And it has been typical of the Air Force to overprescribe every design build project that I have been involved with or reviewed since. The only design-build project that  I was directly involved with that could not be awarded was a fire station at the same installation. The RFP included at least a 50 to 60% design solution  in the RFP.  The same customer again refused to budge an inch. 

    Those have been very effective lessons learned that I've taught for over 20 years in our design build course and which  reinforced our performance based design criteria approach in the Army Milcon Transformation Model  RFP. The story gets  the attention of almost every student in attendance.

     For the dormitory project, we could've issued a quick amendment with four pictures of the dorms to be matched, about three paragraphs of  performance based structural  design criteria and design references and a couple of pages of our standard design build contract requirements.

    Edit: I know for a fact that  performance ratings for both the Air Force project managers and the Corps of Engineers project managers, at that time, were more heavily dependent upon their project award execution rate than  the quality or cost of the projects that they were in charge of. 

  7. On 9/22/2017 at 11:39 AM, here_2_help said:

    I have a theory in search of evidence that more bad contracting decisions are made in September than in all the rest of the months of the year, combined.

    I teach one such example in my design-build class, where the Air Force consciously WASTED $1.5 million on an $8 million award for construction of a dormitory at Hurlburt AFB in Florida back in September of 1994 or 1995, so that their  execution rate would look better. 

    It was a fully designed IFB by The Army Corps of Engineers that was converted to an RFP because all bids were at least $1.5 million over the Programmed amount.  

    After conversion and receipt of proposals from five of the seven original bidders came in,  I conducted discussions with the two lowest offerors who were most competitive.  The lowest price offeror, who I had great respect for, told me that the design was extremely inefficient and commercially impractical due to market conditions in Florida and the South East. After two recent hurricanes that year, the closest mason labor force and masonry subs available to team with the local prime were in North Carolina. The three story masonry framed dorm with face brick finish would require at least four  masonry sub mobilizations and demobs, plus travel and perform while on site, plus inflated masonry prices, which accounted for the entire $1.5 million overrun in their price. The president of the firm said they would drop their price $1.5 million if the government would change the RFP to make the contractor responsible for the structural design with performance specs for the frame and the requirement to match the look of the adjacent dorms that the new dorm design was based on.  He rattled off about four different feasible structural alternatives using matching brick veneer or even precast concrete panels using colored concrete and special brick faced form liners.  The contractor and our office both were experienced with the Design-build delivery method. 

    We went back to the Air Force, recommending that proposed solution.  Since it was September 15th, the Air Force felt the risk of award later than 30 September would be unacceptable and said they would provide the additional $1.5 million for award, as designed. 

    I was so incensed that I was able to require our District to not specify the structural solution on any design-build project for the Air Force for the next two years until I transferred to another Corps organization.  

    After I left, the District went back to prescribing specific framing and materials for the Air Force and back to overrunning the PA on every Air Force project. 

    It was a lesson learned that. As a part of the Army MILCON Transformation team,  I was able to assure that the model RFP used for billions of dollars of army design-build construction between 2006 and 2013, was written, using performance based design criteria for structural framing and for exterior materials.  

    I'm still pissed off over that one (just one ) example of waste by the Air Force and others who have the pre-conception that the government must prescribe every architectural or structural requirement to meet the look and feel of their design theme. 

  8. If any reader here has access to the "higher level policy for [DoD electronic payroll systems?] that has previously undergone the public comment process", would you please identify or provide a link to that policy?  

    That might help mccmark better frame his question(s) to the soliciting agency.  


    This Forum method of communications and information seeking Is like texting sound/word bites vs. direct oral conversation. It is available to a wide audience but I'm still unclear about what mccmark's real, underlying concerns are. 

    One appears to be that the NAVFAC is allegedly requiring use of a third party payroll system in addition to their own payroll system.

    Mccmark hints that they have some type of electronic system, thus may or may not be concerned about having to directly furnish electronic payroll information submission.  

    Another concern is having to provide some type of remote access to their payroll system for (certain? Only designated? Any? ) government personnel.

    Is this a concern for third party payroll system or any electronic payroll system used? It is obvious to me that the DOL would have minimum technical requirements for determining compliance with the Labor Laws and for audit or inspection capability. Remote access might be open to debate. Such policies might have already been addressed by "higher authority" subject to public comment. 

    Information Security? Remote vs obtaining controlled on-site access?  

    As for access, the FAR and probably DOL and statutes already require that and/or the contractor to provide the information  and mention providing access to the KO, authorized reps of the KO and DOL - for certain official purposes.

    Then, there is the question of authority for the "clause" (?), as written. 


  9. 16 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

    Do you think the higher-ups in USACE even thought about 41 USC 1707? I'm not arguing that the clause in question should have been published for comment (I can't open that link), but I can' find a single USACE provision or clause in Title 48 of the CFR. Chapter 51 of Title 48 only lists three clauses:


    Don, Apparently they did. Try this link and see page two, in particular the comment that the issuance of the PIL was to implement higher level policy that has previously undergone the public comment process. That policy was not available at the URL nor was the USACE request that is referred to.

    And to correct my earlier comment, the USACE clause does not appear to require either internal or third party electronic payroll software.  It describes the requirements for such a system or payroll service,  if used. 


    The NAVFAC clause on page 74  at the below apparently requires use of a "supplemental electronic Construction Wage Rate Requirements statute payroll processing system to process and submit certified payrolls electronically to the Government that are compliant with appropriate Construction Wage Rate Requirements statute payroll provisions in the FAR. The contractor shall be responsible for obtaining and providing all access, licenses, and other services required..."

    I don't know what the significance of the word "supplemental" is or if it requires use of a third party payroll service that complies with the technical requirements described in the (unnumbered) "clause".


    Just because one can't  find any evidence that the NAVFAC "clause" went through the public review process, doesn't necessarily mean that NAVFAC didn't use some similar process to that used by USACE for approval to use it. 

  10. I think that the two agencies were (are) working to implement procedures to implement paperless contracting procedures, which have been mandated at some higher level by (?) . It's a good thing to have to allow public comment and feedback concerning the particular procedures, as discussed herein. 

    It appears that the Corps isn't mandating the use of an independent payroll service. If the contractor does use an independent payroll service, then those requirements would kick in. As mccmark indicated above, it wasn't deemed necessary to publish the SCR for public comment. 

    The NAVFAC version appears to mandate use of an independent payroll service, even where the contractor has an internal electronic payroll process. If that is intentional, why?  

    From my experience, NAVFAC is much more prescriptive than USACE or the Air Force in specifying construction means and methods anyway, so why should I be surprised?


  11. It funny to me how officials from those agencies whose policies and procedures are questioned in the WIFCON Forum generally don't defend or otherwise justify or explain their procedures . 

    I also wonder whether a contract requirement that simply implements an existing requirement of a standard contract  clause, , such as a special contract requirement which adopts a uniform approach for submitting otherwise required payroll information to a paperless contracting system,  or how to make information available for audit or review must be published in the Federal Register, etc., etc., etc. I suggest that such formality could be a bureaucratic crock.  However, perhaps such prescribed approaches should be put to the test as Vern mentioned. 

    Concerning payroll information, the basic contract clause requiring submission of payroll information and for providing access to the basic payroll data has been in effect for decades.  What's the difference between specific procedures for already required payroll submission into a paperless contracting system system and contract specifications for contract construction schedules that implement a general contract clause requiring submission of a construction schedule?  I will guarantee that technical specs for construction schedules,  prescribing specific scheduling procedures for the construction schedule required by the contract clause aren't published in the Federal Register. 

  12. 3 hours ago, mccmark said:

    [1] "The "mandatory e-payroll" clause is a different beast. It is not just uploading a spreadsheet to the government's site.  It requires use of a third party payroll system."

    [2] "It requires a system that contains the payroll data, which the government access via a unique login ID and password."

    mccmark, aside from the issue of authorization for the special contract requirement,  are the above requirements [1] & [2] your specific problems with the non-numbered Navy Special Contract Requirement? 

    I presume that the second [2]  requirement would be a problem with the USACE Special Contract Requirement S-102, correct?

    I can see a problem with mandating use of a supplemental, third party payroll system.

    However, requirement [2]  might be consistent with paragraph (c) of Clause 52.222-8, which extends beyond simply submitting weekly payroll info .The clause requires the contractor to make payrolls and basic records available for inspection, copying, or transcription by specifically designated or identified government employees. I think that the contractor could restrict access to such personnel, if that is technically possible in the software. There could certainly be an issue of requiring remote access to the information.  




    52.222-8  Payrolls and Basic Records.

    (a) Payrolls and basic records relating thereto shall be maintained by the Contractor during the course of the work and preserved for a period of 3 years thereafter for all laborers and mechanics working at the site of the work. Such records shall contain the name, address, and social security number of each such worker, his or her correct classification, hourly rates of wages paid (including rates of contributions or costs anticipated for bona fide fringe benefits or cash equivalents thereof of the types described in 40 U.S.C. 3141(2)(B) (Construction Wage Rate Requirement statute)), daily and weekly number of hours worked, deductions made, and actual wages paid. Whenever the Secretary of Labor has found, under paragraph (d) of the clause entitled Construction Wage Rate Requirements, that the wages of any laborer or mechanic include the amount of any costs reasonably anticipated in providing benefits under a plan or program described in 40 U.S.C. 3141(2)(B), the Contractor shall maintain records which show that the commitment to provide such benefits is enforceable, that the plan or program is financially responsible, and that the plan or program has been communicated in writing to the laborers or mechanics affected, and records which show the costs anticipated or the actual cost incurred in providing such benefits. Contractors employing apprentices or trainees under approved programs shall maintain written evidence of the registration of apprenticeship programs and certification of trainee programs, the registration of the apprentices and trainees, and the ratios and wage rates prescribed in the applicable programs.

    (b)(1) The Contractor shall submit weekly for each week in which any contract work is performed a copy of all payrolls to the Contracting Officer. The payrolls submitted shall set out accurately and completely all of the information required to be maintained under paragraph (a) of this clause, except that full social security numbers and home addresses shall not be included on weekly transmittals. Instead the payrolls shall only need to include an individually identifying number for each employee (e.g., the last four digits of the employee’s social security number). The required weekly payroll information may be submitted in any form desired. Optional Form WH-347 is available for this purpose and may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/wh347.pdf. The Prime Contractor is responsible for the submission of copies of payrolls by all subcontractors. Contractors and subcontractors shall maintain the full social security number and current address of each covered worker, and shall provide them upon request to the Contracting Officer, the Contractor, or the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor for purposes of an investigation or audit of compliance with prevailing wage requirements. It is not a violation of this section for a Prime Contractor to require a subcontractor to provide addresses and social security numbers to the Prime Contractor for its own records, without weekly submission to the Contracting Officer... 

    (c) The Contractor or subcontractor shall make the records required under paragraph (a) of this clause available for inspection, copying, or transcription by the Contracting Officer or authorized representatives of the Contracting Officer or the Department of Labor. The Contractor or subcontractor shall permit the Contracting Officer or representatives of the Contracting Officer or the Department of Labor to interview employees during working hours on the job. If the Contractor or subcontractor fails to submit required records or to make them available, the Contracting Officer may, after written notice to the Contractor, take such action as may be necessary to cause the suspension of any further payment. Furthermore, failure to submit the required records upon request or to make such records available may be grounds for debarment action pursuant to 29 CFR 5.12.



    Carl, the contractor isn't required to use the last four digits of the SSN for identity numbers of its employees on the weekly submitted payrolls . That is only cited as an example.



  13. 11 hours ago, C Culham said:

    My thoughts may not be as significant as Don's but in reading the clause I found it interesting there was no requirement for IT security issues as they relate to a system that the Government requests access to as well as protections with regard to that access where electronic access includes protected personal information (PPI).

    For USACE, the government isn't requesting electronic access to or reaching into the construction contractor's internal "system".  The contractor inputs the data into the government's contract admin system program, "Resident Management System (RMS)" , via the contractor module or program, called  "Quality Control System (QCS)". The cost is to be included in the contract price.

    I don't know what software NAVFAC is using to administer construction contracts. As stated above, it has been a valid requirement for construction contractors to submit payroll info to the government for decades.

    Rather than asking for information in a contracting forum, I suggest that the OP address his/her questions and concerns to NAVFAC. There may be valid security concerns or questions about the NAVFAC's approach but I would address them to NAVFAC.

  14. Government construction contracts (including NAVFAC and USACE) have required submission of construction contractor and subcontractor payroll information containing some personal information for decades. Don can feel free to look for the required approvals to collect that info but it is IAW FAR, DOL regs and the applicable Labor Laws. I don't think that the employee's SSN is part of that data input but am not going to research that here.  Think that employee addresses are required.

    For decades, it was paper based copies. The USACE maintained the paper copies as part of the official contract file, which weren't as secure, in my opinion, as the current electronic files are.  We had drawers and boxes full of payrolls, which we had to review and use for employee labor interviews, verification of compliance with the DB minimum wage decisions.  They were used for other CAB purposes - such as tracking overall labor hours for safety , and for verifying or estimating expended labor amounts and costs for changes, REAs or claims, evaluating self-performed labor, etc. 

    The USACE is moving to or has  moved to fully electronic contracting.  The USACE contracts require the contractor to submit electronic payroll data to the USACE RMS (Resident Engineer Management System) software, using the Contractor "Quality Control System (QCS)"module/program.  The contractor can use commercially available payroll software or their own developed payroll software as long as it can feed an Excel spreadsheet format,  in the CQS module.

    The contract says, naturally, for the Contractor to include the cost in the contract price. 

    RMS is a DoD and Army approved contracting software system for security purposes

    As far as I know, only those USACE Contract Admin personnel with approved access to the contract in RMS can physically access or view the payroll information. However, it remains a part of the official contract file for whatever the prescribed retention period is.

    I'm not familiar with NAVFAC's electronic contract admin system and have not recently used the USACE RMS software. 


  15. Vern's and Nash and Cibinic 1994 era articles were spot on and probably served as catalyst's for the "Streamling" efforts and for the 1996-1997 FAR 15 rewrite.  If you think FAR 15 is bad now, you should have seen it before that. 

    Unfortunately, many of those acquisition personnel either didn't understand the intent or the distinctions because they taught newer personnel certain pre-1997 FAR approaches and limitations that are misunderstood and passed on to this date.  Frustrating. 

  16. I didn't need to use page  limitations in my solicitations for construction, services or design build. 

    In the interest of brevity, consistency between proposals and to focus on the specific information that we wanted to evaluate, I developed forms for relevant experience and related past performance owner rating and contact reference, if necessary to verify (not pp questionnaires for them to get owner's references to fill out and return) for prime, designer and specific key trade subs; for prime's and D-B designer's (only specifically identified positions ) key personnel; for identifying prime's work to be self performed. We included an outline price breakdown (not cost breakdown) and reserved the right to ask for it in the event that we needed it for price analysis or confirmation of their understanding of the work. 

    For D-B, we focused on certain specific concept design information and on the level of quality of certain proposed equipment and materials. For D-B drawings, we limited the info to some specific preliminary information.

    I asked for certain organizational and management approach info but not detailed plans or detailed planned approaches.  

    Did not have a problem with excessively long or wordy proposals, or typical lists of every project that they had ever completed. 

    The competing firms liked seeing the same forms  and similar format for every construction and D-B solicitation. 


  17. 9 hours ago, ji20874 said:


    You may err in your conclusion -- this is not a design-build discussion; rather, this is a FPI discussion focusing on whether the target and ceiling prices may be different.

    ji, If that's all you think the discussion is about, then you have confirmed my conclusions. The FAR says very plainly that fixed price contracts that provide for an adjustable price may include a ceiling price, a target price (including target cost), or both. For application of a pre-determined formula-type cost incentive, the contract includes a target cost, target profit or fee and a profit or fee adjustment that is within the constraints of a price ceiling. 

    The basic question is why and when you would set the target price equal to the ceiling price for a construction or design-build contract, rather than setting it lower than the ceiling price.

    Other than telling me "that's the way we've always done it", I want to know  why the ceiling price must be higher than the target price for a construction or design-build contract that is awarded, due to time constraints, before various questions or concerns or before a reasonable FFP can be determined. I explained why the type of costs that you'd be asking the contractor to eat a share of in a design-build contract would be payable in either a cost or FFP contract type. The object is to incentivize the contractor to manage the unknowns after award and control and reduce the overall cost to the government. A GMP icost incentive does that and allows the parties time to collaberate together to address and mitigate contingencies.

    And it "hasn't always been done that way".  

    I'm busy preparing for a hurricane but will try to find a POC in DAU or GSA to answer Vern's question of which projects have used a GMP using FPI. 


  18. I've been a bit remiss by not emphasizing that the federal design-build with GMP project delivery method - just like the industry model - provides the flexibility for the parties to definitize Firm Fixed-prices for all or part of the project after award, during project execution.  

    This greatly simplifies contract administration, especially for the owner but also the design-builder, who can then focus on internal design and construction management. 

    The design-builder will track their actual costs, anyway as part of their own traditional project controls, construction and earned value management. 

    The cost savings Incentive would still apply if the FFP comes in under the GMP. 

    It is apparent to me that the lack of input here by other forum members indicates that they don't really care about the topic and/or likely don't have much, if any, clue about design-build, the business side of construction or when such a pricing method would be useful for the government.

    The industry is pushing for a way to do this but isn't going to go to the effort and expense to sponsor FAR revisions if nobody in the government would understand when or how to use it.

    The D-B Industry's current primary interest focus is on promoting the use of "Quality Based Selection" of design-build teams in government and commercial D-B , then using what they term "Progressive Design-Build",  in lieu of selecting the design-builder using Best Value (FFP).

    In Progressive Design-Build, the owner may select a D-B team to define or help define its "program" (scope, budget and program schedule), then develop the performance criteria for functional and technical design, then design and build the project.  The method would use an evolutionary contracting process, through a series of options that would be negotiated as the project progresses. 

    The industry also advocates using  sole source negotiated GMP for Progressive design-build pricing purposes. 

    All that is beyond the scope of the GMP method being discussed here.