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Everything posted by Desparado

  1. If you're willing to be mobile and do a good job (or at least make people think you are), then you can move pretty quickly up the ranks. I know this person who was a GS-7 in 2003 (after 14 years as a GS-4 and GS-6 in non-contracting work) and within 11 years became a GS-15 (you have to judge whether you consider that fast or not). He wasn't in an intern program or anything. He simply applied and moved when opportunities that sounded good came up. It can be done...
  2. Both gentlemen are correct. I was with GSA for 4 years over 2 GSA Schedule contracts and I can confirm that they are right.
  3. I don't know that I would say a non-DoD agency is "less of a challenge". The challenges are just different. Organizational structure (or lack thereof), ambiguity in policy, and other things can make a non-DoD agency very challenging. I actually found working for DoD much easier because of the structure. Everything was already set in place. Granted, it stiffled innovation, but that's a whole different challenge. I recently had an employee leave my current agency because she couldn't deal with the lack of structure and went back to DoD.
  4. I have worked for the Army, the VA, GSA and the EPA and each experience was different. I do believe having experience at different agencies is career enhancing, but then I've known people who have stayed at a single agency and moved all the way up (so no help there, sorry). I am currently a GS-15 and I do believe changing agencies helped me get to this level. I started with the Army entity and primarily completed post support contracts and purchase orders. The grades there were very limited. At GSA the grades were much higher but I found the work much less rewarding and took a downgrade to leave. I've done two separate stints with the VA and found the work rewarding and depending on the office there is upward mobility available.With the EPA I found it rewarding although I have learned that being with a small civilian agency definitely comes with its own problems and many DoDers have difficulty in adjusting to a non-DoD environment (I consider the VA a DoD wannabe). Again, I apologize that this may not be helpful but I believe each individual has unique experiences and what works for one may not work so well for another. As far as additional skills goes the place I learned the most was with the Army where they had a "everyone does everything" approach so I never knew when I walked in the door whether I'd be buying a thermal imager for the fire department, a $2M construction project, training services or buying some commercial products. There were also opportunities to learn about cost contracting there. At the GSA, I learned about Schedules contracting but nothing else. It was very limiting. At the VA they put you in a silo where you only buy one type of thing. Yes, that makes you a specialist at that one thing but doesn't offer you the diversity of knowledge you need to grow in contracting. Would I recommend it? At the very least, since you are with the VA, if you are in a silo situation I would recommend that you move around between the teams to learn about the various types of contracting. I don't know that you'd need to leave the VA to grow but having perspective and experiences from different agencies can be helpful, although not absolutely necessary. So I guess... yes... I would recommend it, but know that you have as much of a chance to going to a worse situation than you do a better one.
  5. Vern brings up an interesting point. Would FedBid or companies like them truly be considered a "marketplace"?
  6. An RFI or Sources Sought Notice is usually given quite a bit of weight in the protest decisions I've read. I instruct my staff to do a fair amount of market research and if it doesn't appear that there will be two small business contractors that will respond with a fair and reasonable price, be sure to do a Sources Sought Notice before making the decision to go out full and open.
  7. What was the reason for the modification? Did you enter into negotiations for some reason? If something happened that caused you to go into negotiations, I can see where your agency/boss may require a PNM. A PNM for "all modifications" is overkill and just stupid.
  8. In regards to meals in the field for military persons, it depends on how they are fed. If they are fed by MREs, there is no need for plates or plasticware. If it is by T-Rations, those are prepared in kitchen trucks and yes... the military provides paper plates and plasticware to use the consumption of the meal. I don't think that this decision will change that one bit.
  9. .... or maybe overworked and understaffed and like all administrative activities, it doesn't receive the priority from management that pre-award and award activities do. It's all about obligating the money and after that senior management doesn't care unless there is a problem.
  10. You are right in that it is supposed to be, but I am facing a situation now where a bad contractor contested their rating. As the reviewing official I reviewed what they wrote and the contract file, spoke with the contractor and the contracting officer and then made a decision to uphold the Unsatisfactory rating. The contractor then proceeded to get political appointees involved and now all heck is busting loose. Sad, but true.
  11. Keep in mind that many interviewers today use "performance based questions" (yes, the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I heard that title) where instead of asking you a question like, "Walk me through source selection", what will be asked is something like... "Tell me about a time when you used source selection procedures on a large contract. What was that contract for and what processes did you use to accomplish the work". The idea behind this is to not only find out what you have done, but to get an indication of what you will do in the future. So if you're the nervous type jot down some large or unique acquisitions you've done so they are fresh in your mind in case you are asked question of this nature.
  12. As someone who has spent time with both DoD and GSA, I have always found DoD's view of GSA's pricing to be interesting. Now that I know how GSA gets its pricing and how they determine a price fair and reasonable (not the lowest) it is interesting to me that DoD has such an objection. Now, I totally agree that you may not want to use GSA pricing to determine the lowest price available, but I personally think that it should be perfectly acceptable to use for a fair and reasonableness determination. Fortunately, other agencies aren't held by these same rules.
  13. When I worked at GSA I lobbied to have the MOT name changed because it is very misleading. Because it would have to go through the rule-making process, I lost every time. Sad...
  14. REA'n - The reason we would prefer LPTA over a Trade-off evaluation methodology is that we aren't willing to pay more for a better approach, or better past performance or anything else. We just want someone who can come in and provide the service. We do need to evaluate their key personnel and technical approach (to ensure that they can in fact do the work), but can do that on a pass/fail basis. We also do our LPTA evaluation by starting with the lowest-priced offer and then stop when we have one that is technically acceptable, which we believe saves valuable time. Why evaluate a bunch of offers that have no chance of winning?
  15. If this was truly a case of the GSA FSS description being too limited, no contractor with that Schedule would be able to complete the work requested by the Navy. The Navy should probably not have used the Schedules for this acquisition and if they had done proper market research they would have been able to determine that.
  16. C100 - Didn't catch that these were trade-offs, but even so if the gov't has detailed requirements (aka "specs") shouldn't the approach be easier to write rather than harder? You won't have to go into a lot of detail about the details as the gov't has already provided those (which sounds like an anti-performanced-based approach). How did the CO word the technical approach part of the RFQ? I'm assuming they didn't just say, "Give me your approach and you only got 10 pages to do it". I would hope they would have detailed what the approach should be addressing, and if so... is it really unrealistic to think it could be done in 10 pages or less? One would hope that the CO and requiring activity have worked together to determine an appropriate number of pages necessary to convey what they are looking for in "the approach" and reduce the fluff that isn't necessary to make an award decision. Without knowing more about the solicitation or requirement it's hard to just say off-hand that 10 pages is insufficient. I've awarded multi-million dollar contracts/orders with 10 pages or less and also awarded contracts/orders for less than a million and had the number of pages at 50. I don't think there's a hard and fast rule about how many pages is appropriate. It appears that the assumption of many is that the number is just pulled out of thin air and if that is true, it's sad.
  17. Now I'm going to take a stab at some of the other points... #1: If the government is already providing "fairly elaborate specifications", why would an offeror need to include specifications in their technical approach, which is what was limited to 10 pages? #2: Since the government included "fairly elaborate specifications", I would think that perhaps they do have an idea of what they want and how they want it done, within the variance as defined by the technical approach of the offerors. #3: Already covered #4: Why do you feel technical approaches are meaningless and therefore impossible to compare? I've done many somewhat similar to this when I worked for DoD and the VA and never had any issues. As long as the TEP determines the approach is acceptable, award to the lowest price. It sounds simple because it is. #5: Totally agree with you on that one! Remove the fluff and tell us how you're going to do this task order. #6: I wouldn't advise that one! In short, if the government truly does have elaborate specs or a well-defined PWS/SOW, all we really need to know is that your company has a sound technical approach, acceptable past performance and a fair and reasonable price (awarding to the lowest). I have instituted in my office where an LPTA is appropriate that we evaluate the lowest offer. If it is technically acceptable, we don't evaluate anybody else (why would we?) and we make award.
  18. I'd like to address number 3 (as a former GSA person). Just because your company has a GSA schedule does not mean it knows how to accomplish the work specifically requested by the agency releasing that particular RFQ. GSA schedules are, by design, very high-level and vague. This is because it is impossible for GSA to know the unique requirements of every agency's numerous requests. Therefore, it is perfectly natural and recommended that an agency contracting officer require offerors to submit something that shows they can do the work as detailed in the SOW/PWS.
  19. I'm interested in this, if for no other reason than I'm curious. On one side I believe that the companies under this NAICS should be a law firm. On the other side if the company provides these services via their employees, maybe it doesn't have to be a "law firm" itself. I would contact your local SBA rep to get their read and then protest (or not) accordingly. When you find out, please come back and let us know!
  20. This wasn't a matter of the Government being a "500lb gorilla". It is the matter of the Government's ability to determine its needs, and not the contractor's right to deliver whatever the heck they want to. There are several legitmate reasons that the Government may have only wanted 4,000 gallons instead of 7,500. Perhaps they were only funded for that amount? Perhaps that was the amount that would carry them to fiscal year-end? Perhaps that was all they needed at this time? Whatever the reason the Government should always have the right to determine its need.
  21. Nena - I would say based soley on the information provided here that your company would be in violation of its "good faith efforts" required by subcontracting. Under a GSA MAS contract, large businesses are required to submit a subcontracting plan. The fact that your company is owned by a parent that also owns your sister company is irrelevant. Your company has the GSA MAS contract and so the responsibilities are for your company. Therefore, GSA will see it as your company subcontracting to another large business and by doing so where is the good faith effort to utilize small businesses? Are there no parts of the service that can be subcontracted out? Can your sister company get a GSA MAS contract so that they can self-perform the work instead of being a sub to your company?
  22. With the exceptions of 52.252-1 and -2 (and any other place that may stipulate the requirement) where it is required to include a link to where the full text can be accessed electronically...
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