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joel hoffman

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Posts posted by joel hoffman

  1. 2 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

    @joel hoffman

    I don't know who Corduroy Frog is, but based on the phrase "my client's proposal" it appears that he is not with the company that is submitting a proposal, but that he is somebody hired by that company to help with proposal preparation. If so, that might explain why he or she hasn't called the CO.

    Got it, thanks for the reminder, Vern.

    Perhaps the client is communicating with the government. At any rate, if I were advising a client in a situation like this, I’d advocate frank communications and scope resolution. 

  2. 34 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

    We must see the contract, or you must quote the exact language of the CLINs, in order for anyone to answer your question. Until you quote the exact language of the CLINs, all you're likely to get from anyone here are more questions.

    Agree. A CPFF contract format usually doesn’t provide much incentive for a contractor to save the government money. It appears that the contractor was able to self-perform some of the effort ast a lower cost than by subbing it out and wants to be rewarded for it. 

  3. I have observed over the years a reluctance by both government and contractors to  communicate frankly and openly, preferring to hold their cards close to their chests. There are many reasons for this behavior.  

    I once had to negotiate mods to a large civil works contract with a “top twenty” , heavy construction company. The site superintendent was extremely hard to get along with, argumentative and brusque at the beginnning of the project. He seemed suspicious of anything that the government would say or do. I wanted to find a way to build some trust and to crack the hard shell. After all, we were going to have to work the same project for the next two years. 

    One early change was rather small, to add a stand alone restroom building on the new dam site.  I reviewed the contractors detailed proposal and it was fairly reasonable overall, in comparison with my detailed estimate. There were some areas where I could have tried to get them to reduce some small costs. But I noticed that they had overlooked including the cost to paint the building. 

    I began the negotiation by saying that the proposal was reasonable overall and that I would not nickel and dime it - which brought a look of surprise from the man. He was expecting us to find something to criticize or cut from the proposal. 

    Then, I told him that it appeared to me that they had neglected to include painting and to check. That really floored him. He asked his office engineer and they confirmed the omission.  We quickly settled the mod for a little more than they had proposed and it broke the ice. After that, we were able to develop some trust and a reasonable working relationship. 

    Ive always remembered that situation as an example of an effective approach to developing better lines of mutual trust and communication.



  4. On 2/17/2018 at 7:52 AM, Corduroy Frog said:

    Thanks to all who have responded.  I am pricing enough hours to fill 1920 hours and told the project manager that the hours have to be delivered (with part-timers if need be) or we will be noncompliant.  There is also the possibility that the contract can be negotiated to a T&M hours billing.


    18 hours ago, Redskin Fan said:

    Especially given this is not a competitive procurement, the simplest thing to do would be to pick up the telephone and talk to the Contracting Officer.  By and large, I find most CO's are reasonable people and would rather resolve the issue before you spend time putting a proposal together that they will turn around and ask you to revise.  The 1920 hours is probably not a scientific estimate but instead a WAG put together by their program office.  Make a call.


    To CFrog:  I hope you aren’t making a unilateral interpretation of the government’s RFP. A sole source procurement is intended to be a one-on-one, negotiated process that should allow and encourage you to ask questions and seek a mutual understanding of the requirement. You are also allowed to explain how the requirement would be priced or costedin your proposal. After-all, they have already selected you as the contractor. Help them to formulate the best, clearest contract possible.

    Beyond being the “simplest thing to do” to pick up the telephone - it appears from your posts to be necessary...

  5. Too bad for the KO. I didn't sign anything.  He and the lawyers and finance folks should have known better.  Another reason not to ever suggest ways to save the taxpayers money.

    There was no “parking” of funds involved.  They weren't expiring anytime soon and were expended during their period of availability.  Plus, the funds were for in-scope changes.  They were for known requirements, specifically a scope of work to resolve design and construction conflicts in the process system.  They were being encountered but not in a specific known amount to be able to be determined in time to avoid massive impact costs - thus, CR was the appropriate type of arrangement for that work.  The Systems Contract included both CPFF and FFP scopes of work. 

    Edited  on 17 February to add some further context. I tried earlier to not overburden the reader with details which led to decisions on how best to address construction challenges affecting productivity, cost and schedule.

    The design for these plants were site adapted from the plant at Tooele, Utah, which had not yet completed systemization and begun incineration operations. The Tooele Plant Systems contract was cost reimbursement, not only for the Ops phases but also for construction.  That design was site adapted from the cost plus Johnson Island plant, which was still under construction when Tooele began. Due to the incomplete designs at the times of award of those two contracts, there were tremendous cost and time growth. The DoD and the Chemical Weapons Destruction Program had to get the program under better control. So the Program adapted what they thought were the as-built conditions at Tooele to issue as FFP construction at the other plants. This proved to be problematic, complicated by incorporating process equipment specific and Real Property Installed Equipment specific shop drawings in the as-built condition into the FFP design. This included hundreds of pages of piping schematics and other equipment specific routing and connection details, including the Pollution Abatement System (PAS), which ended up having differences as the contractors had to integrate all of the GFE process equipment for the subsequent plants into their construction.

    The hundreds of millions of dollars of GFE plant and process equipment was all in storage, boxed and wrapped. There was no way for anyone to be able to determine if or what differences would be found upon bringing them out of storage.

    In addition, all of the designs of the plants and the GFE itself were being modified though constant issuance of Engineering Change Proposals, originating from the first two plants, as they were being systemized and lessons learned during operations.  

    A cost plus solution for adapting the numerous, relatively small process equipment conflict resolutions and fitting modifications (especially in the PAS) was deemed to be the most efficient and least impactive solution. The contractors’ field engineers were adapting the mods as discovered into the shop drawings and field routing shop drawings, rather than going back through the tortuous, expensive and slow ECP process. 

    One would have to have a full appreciation of the size and complexity of this program, the plant designs and process designs and understand  the nature of the Chemical Weapons, agents, their deadliness, the time, schedule  and cost constraints to have a full appreciation for the need to find solutions to all these challenges. 

  6. 50 minutes ago, kevlar51 said:

    If it's sole source, then their justification for adjusting your hours to put you on equal footing with other bidders makes little sense.

    Agreed with Joel--you're in a much better position in a sole source environment to negotiate and reach a clear meeting of the minds. Discuss your concerns with the Government, and figure out their concerns. Then resolve them in the contract document.

    Right on! Your first point suggests that the story changed!  

    At any rate, one should never ASSUME that the contracting agency will think or act in harmony with the interpretations offered here.   Opinions are frequently based upon the context or assumed context of the information provided by the questioner, which often dribbles out as the thread progresses.  

  7. Ok, Laura. You initially said that you are Prime Contractor with a Subcontractor...  This implies that the contract has been awarded to you and that you are now executing, using a signed subcontractor. 

    Now, it appears that you are competing for an award of a contract.  There is a big difference between those scenarios. 

    Your basic problem or dilemma appears to be that the government RFP doesn’t require what you think the contract administrators will require but the sub says he has worked on that base for ten years without it. 

    You are under pressure from within to keep your price down because of competitive necessity. 

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the local installation contracting office doesn’t require evidence of automobile liability insurance that includes the government’s special requirements. Perghaps the sub is referring to installation issued contracts. 

    However, the USACE local RE Office should enforce those requirements. Maybe not. Especially if the District Office isn’t including the requirement in its RFP’s. 

    You need to level the competitive playing field by insisting that, if such will be the requirement, then the RFP is patently in error by omitting it, thus affecting competition. 

    By the way, how much extra cost is really involved here, anyway? I wouldn’t think that it could be a whole lot for the additional  coverage for a couple of vehicles.  If you think that the sub will cancel it’s insurance without notice, don’t hire them.  

    Otherwise you could tell them to get a rider for this job. 

  8. 1 hour ago, Corduroy Frog said:

    I'll add some more to help paint the picture.  From the responses, there is overwhelming emphasis that if this is really a level-of-effort contract, the contractor is obligated to deliver the hours or be non-compliant.

    It is my opinion that the contracting office who designed this RFP is not competent.  Mr. Edwards made reference to the possibility that this may NOT really be a LOE contract in spite of what they call it.  The COR is young and not very well versed (for that matter, neither am I).  They are expecting us to bill on a fixed-price format:  Hourly Rate X 1920 divided by 12.

    The RFP is not on the street.  It is small and we are expecting a sole source award.  I'm afraid as long as the contract is defined as a FPLOE then we will be in violation if the positions do not deliver a full 1920 hrs.  I hope this clears up the misinformation. 

    Your comments are welcome, and even better would be suggestions as to how to clear this up.


    I think what you just said is that your company is negotiating the price and can negotiate the clear intent of the terms of this contract with the government agency. That is new knowledge to me, which provides a totally different perspective to this discussion for me and to recommendations. 

    Here is my advice.

    You should ensure that both parties have a clear, common understanding of the requirement and how to fill it.  

    Do not rely on this forum for that understanding! 

    You MUST negotiate with the customer, explaining what you “think” the terms of the RFP mean and their significance concerning staffing and pricing the effort and your concerns. 

    You should explain how you determine your employee salary and benefit cost and that it is based upon the number of hours that you think the employee will actually be available and how you would intend to staff the effort for 1920 hours.

    Determine if the additional hours are “overtime” hours  or just more days than you think the employee will be available. If the latter, then explain that you will provide substitute personnel or whatever your plan would be. Explain then that there will be additional cost to you to staff the project for those extra hours.  

    Determine your overall cost to staff the effort for 1920 hours and propose or revise your proposed hourly rate, accordingly.

    Explain all this to the customer during negotiations. 

    Be sure both sides have a full, common  understanding of the above and how you are to invoice and get paid for the effort. 

    Do negotiate. Request the opportunity to negotiate a clear understanding of the governments expectations, how you interpret the requirement and priced it, and the implications for both parties if 1920 hours is not really what will occur. 

    Insist on negotiations. Sole source allows you to realistically price your initial proposal without having to cut prices for fear that someone else will undercut your price. 

    Sole source means NEGOTIATE, reach common understanding, and seek a WIN-WIN result. 

    If it hasn’t been awarded yet, request negotiations or further negotiations to clear this up! 

    Ask for a copy of the government’s record of negotiations based upon their understanding of the discussions concerning the intent and scope, etc. If they won’t provide that, ask for a Memorandum of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding documenting the mutual understanding and agreements reached.

    In case I wasn’t clear enough above in my recommendation, NEGOTIATE.   

    Good luck! 

  9. I once developed and implemented a method to execute myriads of individually small changes to fix design coordination conflicts in large, complex industrial plants about 18 years ago.  It probably wasn’t FAR kosher but was successful in avoiding impact delays and impact costs to critical treaty mandated milestone dates. The construction phase of three,  multi-hundred million dollar plants were priced as FFP, within overall $ Billion(s) Systems contracts.

      In the late 90’s to mid 2000’s, I was Division Chief of Contract Administration for construction phases on Systems Contracts at seven sites for (design-build at four plants) construction, systemization and operation of Chemical Weapons Demilitarization Plants to destroy our Nation’s Chemical Weapon Stockpile. We were under a Chemical Weapons Treaty deadline with Russia to destroy the weapons.  We had three sites under construction at the time. Two plants had been completed and were in operatiions and four others had not yet started. The three plants under construction at the time used huge furnaces to incinerate  Mustard, Sarin and VX chemical agents that had been drained from various types of munitions as they were disassembled in the plants, or from bulk stored agent or incinerated agent filled rockets that were chopped into pieces.

    There were several separate types of furnaces and process lines at each plant. Each furnace flued toxic waste gases through very complex Pollution Abatement Systems (PAS) that were all mounted on a huge structural steel tower with smoke stacks. Essentially all of the process equipment for the weapons handling systems and production lines, PAS etc. were government designed or performance specified.  Each plant had over $100 million dollars of GFE process equipment, most of which was pre-positioned and stored on site. 

    The plants were designed from prototypes at Johnson Island and Tooele, Utah. However, the process system designs were not mature and were constantly changing due to lessons learned, design evolution, differences between manufacturers specific equipment specs, etc., etc.

    The plant designs were site adapted from the earlier plants, using 2D CAD, but had never been able to keep up with design and equipment evolution, as-built conditions, etc., even under a massive Design Configuration Management Program. 

    The numbers of design conflicts in the PAS and furnace lines were tremendous, for various reasons. The 2D CAD design couldn’t detect or be used to de-conflict the electrical, piping , equipment and structural steel ahead of time. 

    The bureaucratic process of initiating individual changes for each small conflict , and negotiating and settling, issuing mods, and going through the Design Configuration management  process would have resulted in millions of dollars in impacts and possibly months delays to the critical path schedule. Each day of delay cost $50,000-$75,000 at the time and affected up to 1000 tradespersons and hundreds of contractor and govt staff. To go back to the CPFF designer would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I devised a cost reimbursement (CPFF) CLIN for about $1 million at each site (all under construction at same time with almost identical designs).

    I had no experience with ID/IQ contracting at the time, but had earlier Air Force Civil Engineering experience with job orders for daily operations, maintenance and repairs (not JOC or SABRE).  

    So, the mod establishing the CPFF CLIN included a “job order” method, complete with forms to describe the problem, document the Contractor’s Rough Order of Magnitude estimate for labor and materials (sometimes equipment), for government technical review and concurrence or adjustment and contractor agreement and for the ACO to authorize the job order.

    Job orders were issued as design error conflicts were discovered in the PAS and other Process Equipment systems. 

     Each job order would be tracked against the CLIN balance. I don’t remember if we had to bump up the funding for the CPFF CLIN at any site or if we kept all job orders within the $1 million limit.

     We captured all field routing error corrections, etc. in the as-builts for RCRA, Treaty, design configuration, etc. 

    From my perspective, it was highly successful and saved many millions in impact costs, delay costs, design costs, government site extension costs, etc. 

    So, I guess we idiots put funds on contracts for unspecified, “as needed”,  “job orders” and got away with it.

    Our organization was reknowned within USACE for being able to think and act “outside the box” long before I worked there. 

     Our KO’s and lawyers agreed with it and issued the Mods to implement it.  

    I had learned from three of my employees who were on loan from TVA with nuclear plant construction background that changing a $30 clock in the elevator of a nuclear plant, as an example,  cost $10,000- $15,000 in design fees, configuration management processes,  documentation, permitting approvals, changes, etc...

  10. Laura, thanks for the clarification.  So, apparently, contrary to the USACE contract specialists, your prime contract doesn’t require automobile liability insurance other than what the applicable State off-base insurance requirement might be. 

    However, the terms of your contract with the subcontractor require automobile liability insurance, including those features required by the two contract clauses. I would agree then, that there is no exemption in the subcontract for those special features that are above and beyond off-base automobile liability policies. 




    52.228-5   Insurance—Work on a Government Installation.

    As prescribed in 28.310, insert the following clause:

    surance—Work on a Government Installation (JAN 1997)

    (a) The Contractor shall, at its own expense, provide and maintain during the entire performance of this contract, at least the kinds and minimum amounts of insurance required in the schedule or elsewhere in the contract.

    (b) Before commencing work under this contract, the Contractor shall notify the Contracting Officer in writing that the required insurance has been obtained. The policies evidencing required insurance shall contain an endorsement to the effect that any cancellation or any material change adversely affecting the Government's interest shall not be effective (1) for such period as the laws of the State in which this contract is to be performed prescribe or (2) until 30 days after the insurer or the Contractor gives written notice to the Contracting Officer, whichever period is longer.

    (c) The Contractor shall insert the substance of this clause, including this paragraph (c), in subcontracts under this contract that require work on a Government installation and shall require subcontractors to provide and maintain the insurance required in the Schedule or elsewhere in the contract. The Contractor shall maintain a copy of all subcontractors' proofs of required insurance, and shall make copies available to the Contracting Officer upon request.

    (End of clause)




    552.228-5 Government as Additional Insured.

    As prescribed in 528.310, insert the following clause:

    Government as Additional Insured (JAN 2016)

    (a) This clause supplements the requirements set forth in FAR clause 52.228-5, Insurance - Work on a Government Installation.

    (b) Each insurance policy required under this contract, other than workers' compensation insurance, shall contain an endorsement naming the United States as an additional insured with respect to operations performed under this contract. The insurance carrier is required to waive all subrogation rights against any of the named insured.


    Laura, what is the specific applicable contract requirement for type of insurance, as referred to in 52.228-5?  Does it specifically mention automobile liability insurance?

    I can't speak for GSA or for your agency, if you are using a GSA contract vehicle.   However, generally, If automobile liability insurance "is required in the schedule or elsewhere in the contract", then no, there would generally be no exemption from requirements for "Additional Insured, Waiver of Subrogation, and 30-day cancellation notice (among other things)" , unless specifically exempted somewhere else in the contract. I doubt that local clauses would negate a general contract clause.

  12. We don’t know what the actual positions are required for or whether only one person can fill the position. Is the effort such that your client can provide a sub to fulfill the requirement ?

    Without knowing any more specifics, a 1920 hour requirement per year doesn’t look unreasonable to me for a 52 week year at 40 hours per week,  less 10 holidays,  if subs are allowable in order to provide coverage of a position. 

    Having scanned the original post and all responses so far, I didn’t see where the OP or any of us mentioned asking the government POC to explain what the basis is for the 1920 hour requirement is. 

    It would seem to me that, if the government will require 1920 hours of annual effort and one person wouldn’t be available but 1860 hours, you can’t factor DOWN the hourly rate based upon your annual cost for that person. You would have to make up 60 hours of absences with a substitute. 

    If the government won’t require you to provide or account for 1920 hours of effort and cost to receive the full monthly payment, then I can see how the rate could be factored down. 

    Oh well. 

  13. Adding two persons to a task being performed by two others often doesn’t result in twice the original output. For that matter, adding the second person to the task doesn’t necessarily result in two times the output of that of one person. Sure, 4 persons is twice as many persons as 2 persons but doesn’t necesssary produce four “output units” based on that of the single person. Could be more, could be less. 😄

  14. There was a recent thread in the forum, which questioned  if and why PNM is necessary for purchases under the SImplified Acquisition Threshold, if my memory serves me correctly. It was from a contracting person. At any rate, the question seemed puzzling to me, why a contracting person would ask that. 

    EDIT: See: 

    Upon refreshing my memory, some of the responses amazed me, too.  I do agree with those who differentiated between the term “PNM”, where guidance or procedures prescribe a specific format that may not be necessary for every level of price determination/negotiation, and some other means of documentation where applicable. Perhaps the person who “told” the OP that a “PNM” is always necessary could have elaborated. 

  15. - The following apply not only to the PNM but to all documentation, such as technical, cost or price analysis, time analysis, scope determination, field pricing support, pre-negotiation objectives, etc. 

    - Provides accountability through a paper trail. Provides basis for justifying the reason for action and results for others.:

    - provides continuity for future pricing actions (mods, claims, new contracts, etc.), based upon the instant and previous actions. Allows for application of lessons learned. Useful for after action reviews and for self-critique  what did we do right, what could be improved, etc.?

    - Provides a record for others to be able to examine and use. Record is essential in the event that multiple persons are administering or closing out the contract or when successor personnel assume administration of the contract. This should be obvious - but often doesn’t seem to be important or apparent to the person or persons documenting the action. They tend not to realize that documentation must be written for a person who doesn’t have the knowledge or perspective of the author. Witness many of the original posts in this Forum over the years. 

    - Useful  to refresh the author’s memory in the normal course of contract administration, especially useful if  questions, disagreements or conflicts arise. 

    -Essential for claims/REA/changes/mods/disagreement analysis and resolution. Useful for performance issues. Often necessary for litigation purposes. 

    Etc., etc...

    EDIt: I agree with everything that Vern said above , as of this point. 

  16. It would seem that each employee that you provide will cost you an hourly amount based upon a realistic number of annual hours that each person would be available to work.

    So, even if sharing the 1920 hours between different employees is allowable, you wouldn’t be able to reduce the hourly rate for “bidding” purposes, correct?  

    But how is the monthly billing calculated? Per month or by a certain number of hours? 

  17. 1 hour ago, Farparts said:

    Is there a formal difference between "clearance" and "approval"?  To me, approval means that some authority concurs with the rationale behind a plan or course of action (COA), whereas clearance grants permission to proceed with the plan or COA).   

    Do I have it backwards or am I not even close? 

    Depends upon the context.  

    To me “clearance” would entail coordinating with various parties before proceeding. “All Clear” in sailing, shooting, crossing the street, etc. means that you check before you act. 

  18. Divona, are you asking as the government, with respect to a prime contractor invoice - or as the prime, with respect to a sub invoice? 

    You said that 6 persons were “necessary to meet the SLA requirements”.   What is the specific contract or subcontract “requirement” to provide 6 persons? 

    If six persons are contractually required, then they didn’t meet the requirement.  

  19.  Ha ha!  This reminds me of the time back in the early 1980s when our chief of quality assurance asked my resident engineer if it would be OK for one of the contractors to  install air conditioning in his government pick up truck. The contractor felt sorry for our chief of QA because he was putting more than 100,000 miles on his government pick up truck every year.   None of the Corps of Engineers staff vehicles had air-conditioning in those days, even though all of our projects were in Mississippi and Alabama .  George was always grumpy but was even more so during the summer months...

     I am sure that you can imagine what our resident engineer’s answer was. 😄😄😄

    Your answer ought to be obvious.