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Everything posted by Desparado

  1. With this recent development http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2016/06/federal-court-agencies-can-punish-employees-refusing-break-rules/129000/?oref=top-story is the FAR even something we as contracting officers can enforce. I know this case is unique and focuses more on the Whistleblower Act, but doesn't it set a bad precedent? Doesn't the FAR come from the U.S. Code and is therefore law? I always thought so but that is my ignorance apparently. This one just blew me away. What does this do for contracting officers who rely on the FAR to say no to requiring activities and supervisors when they want us to do something wrong?
  2. Don and Jamaal - Why complicate matters by having to evaluate/negotiate all of that? I don't see that the gain outweighs the cost/risk here. In fact, I would propose that acquisitions would take much longer to complete because of the additional requirements to review, evaluation and possibly negotiate clauses. Call me old fashioned but I truly believe that the best protector of the government's contracting interests is the government's contracting officer, and that we should dictate the terms and conditions of contracts, not the contractors.
  3. UVA - By my statement I meant that by drafting the RFP/Contract, the government will be able to ensure that the clauses necessary to protect our interests are in place. If you allow the fox to run the hen house, they will only put in clauses that protect their interest. For example, I'm sure they won't put in any type of T4D clause, or liquidated damages clause, or anything the government currently uses to protect its interests.
  4. This appears to be the type of question that will cause Vern to absolutely go off, appropriately so. No disrespect intended, but I've read many of Vern's comments in the past related to this question and I know he has strong feelings about it. I believe that new contract specialists/officers want the answers handed to them and experienced ones think they know the answers already. I don't know of too many contracting people that stay up on the FAR as much as we should. Sadly, I have to put myself in that category as well. With workloads being what they are, very few have the time to dedicate to keeping up with the various changes. I try, but I know that I fall short...
  5. Vern - By "leveling the playing field" I simply meant that all offers would be evaluated using the stated criteria and against RFPs that contain the same terms and conditions (clauses). I also think that the key thing is that as contracting officers we are responsible for protecting the government's interest to the best of our ability. If we let the contractors write the contracts, it will be written to their benefit. This is a case of the Golden Rules. We have the gold, so we should make the rules. In other words, since we are spending the money, we should dictate the terms so that our interests are protected. Standard language in clauses ensure that the contracts are written in a way that protects us. However, if you let the contractors write the contracts, then each one will be different, with slick lawyers trying to manipulate the language of the clauses to suit their interests. Uva - Your example is an interesting one, but limited. Software agreements are one thing as the language is normally pretty simple (no more than a page or two), but applying that methodology to all contracts would be problematic. Can you imagine the possibilities? Construction contracts would no longer have liquidated damages clauses. Service contracts may not contain clauses that allow us to extend the contract 6 months. T4D clauses would be absent. I could go on and on. The Government clauses are there to protect us, and I think we should be the author of them.
  6. UVA - I guess this may be one of those areas where we will need to agree to disagree. I think that leveling the playing field is an important part of government acquisition, and so I would prefer to dictate the terms (that I as a gov't CO feel protect the government's interest) and have a level playing field. Otherwise, I can see the protest frequency going up at a faster rate than it already is because every contractor is going to think that their T&Cs are the best.
  7. Retread and UVA - Yes, I would have a problem with anyone besides the government (including a large business) writing the contract. I feel this way because the government should be the one protecting the government/taxpayers' interest and we do that through our clauses. We should be the ones to pick those. Vern - As you know, the RFP includes not only the evaluation criteria but also the clauses applicable. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is my humble opinion that we should be the ones to select those clauses because we are the ones tasked with protecting the interest of the government/taxpayer. I also think this would be a nightmare to evaluate. Regardless what criteria we would attempt to put into the RFP, with each proposal having different terms and conditions, contracting officers would have to incorporate the lawyers onto the evaluation team just to decipher what language the offerors' lawyers would come up with. We have enough trouble doing proper evaluations just looking at the proposals and costs. Throw a full-blown evaluation of terms and conditions into the mix and nothing would ever get awarded, or take even longer to do so. Although our contract writing systems are (depending on the agency you work at) pains to work with, I do believe they serve a purpose. Yes, we have to do a bunch of data input but in this stage of the information age, everyone (primarily Congress and companies that want to gain an advantage) wants access to this data and so that isn't going away. Better to have all that data captured automatically than to have to decipher a proposal to pull the info out to provide the data to FPDS (as mentioned previously by Shall7.
  8. I would still never do it. Shall7, I believe you made the assumption that the contractor would accidentally put in a wrong clause. I would propose that there would be some or many that would intentionally insert clauses that would slant things towards them, thereby causing the government to have to hire a plethora of lawyers just to interpret them all in order to protect the government's interest. I rarely disagree with Vern, and so it gives me pause to do so this time, but I think that the Government should be in control of the clauses within the acquisition and the writing of the contract itself. Are we perfect? No, but we are the ones responsible to the taxpayers whereas the contractors are only responsible to themselves (or their stockholders). I still believe having them put in the clauses would be putting the fox in charge of the hen house. The evaluation could also be a nightmare as now the contract provisions and clauses would almost surely have to be another thing to evaluate and/or negotiate. I think you would lose so much time/money between lawyers and evaluation time that you would lose any benefit gained from trashing the contract writing systems. Vern, you want to let the contractors write the RFP? How could that work? Wouldn't they tailor it so that their company wins the "competition"? Now that being said, I have no objection to them writing the PWS/SOW, which of course is the concept behind using a SOO (which is not used nearly as much as it should be, imho. The small business point of view is just one reason why I don't believe this won't ever gain traction. There is no way the small business community with their influence on Congress will ever let this happen for the reasons Boof mentioned.
  9. So in your scenario we would have the contractors put in the contract clauses designed to protect the government's/taxpayer's interest? Wouldn't that be like putting the fox in charge of the hen house? Although an intriguing idea, and an interesting discussion, but I don't know that it would gain any traction. Most contracting officers are not lawyers and so having a CO try to review every clause that the contractor would try to slide in wouldn't be feasible. Also, since PD2 (granted, it's been a few years since I've used it) builds the contract from the solicitation, is it your proposal that the contractor would also develop the solicitations? What about the SOW/PWS? I'm going to assume your answer is no to this to which I'll respond with, "If that is the case, then we will still need some type of contract writing system to do the solicitations so why not keep it to move them into the contract?" I think there may be more "major" hurdles than just WAWF and FPDS....
  10. Sadly, although I think this is a great idea, it doesn't sound like it will include the sub-DoD supplements (AFARS, AFFARS, etc...) so a contract specialist still won't have a one-stop shop for the FAR and its DoD supplements.
  11. GSA's primary goal is to please the people in the Beltway. Once the screams of high prices on the MAS Schedules got to be deafening, GSA came up with FSSI. Now that FSSI is getting old, they are pushing the concepts of Category Management and the Acquisition Gateway. Once those get old or contested, they will come up with a new buzzword or concept so they can continue to show shiny objects to OMB and OFPP. This is one of the reasons I left GSA.
  12. .... and then there is this. Apparently, there are proposals to amend the 2017 NDAA. One is to prohibit a CoFC suit after a GAO loss and the second would require a protestor to pay certain costs to the Government if they lose a protest. http://www.pscouncil.org/News2/NewsReleases/2016/PSC_Asks_HASC_to_Forego_Protest_Process_Changes_in_FY17_NDAA.aspx
  13. Apsofacto - Howdy to you as well... I think it is nearly impossible to get all the agencies to agree on a spec for anything, much less a desk. Can you imagine a General or a Director being told they have to have the same desk as a worker? Oh my!! All joking aside, the requirements are so varied that it would be nearly impossible to do so. The GSA idea is to reduce the number of contractors from a few thousand to a dozen or so and thereby consolidating the government's requirements and leveraging our buying power. It all sounds nice but in practice it just really hasn't worked well. H2H - The Schedules program is very flawed in that regard. However, if a CO ever has the audacity to tell a contractor that they can't have a contract, they then promptly call their local congressperson and then the next thing you know, they get a contract... and then we cancelled it 2 years later due to a lack of sales. GSA is far too political of an agency (hence why I left there).
  14. Desparado

    Career Changes

    After 14 years working for the Army in various (mostly logistic) positions, I accepted a GS-7 position with the Army as an 1102 doing many types of contracts in a cradle-to-grave environment. I worked my way up to a GS-11 position there, but in order to move up to a GS-12 I had to move to another city and accept a position with the VA. After almost 2 years there, I accepted a promotion to GS-13 supervisory position to work at GSA in the MAS program. A year in that position, and I was fortunate to be promoted to a Director of Contracting position at GSA (GS-14). However, after 3 years in that position, I realized that GSA was going in a direction that I wasn't interested in going so I went back to the VA in a similar director's position. I spent a year there and then was offered a great position (with promotion to GS-15) at the EPA, and the office was only 3.5 miles from my house. That was a deal I couldn't pass up! I think working for different agencies doing a variety of different types of contracting is excellent for overall development. Plus, then you discover what you find challenging and what you enjoy doing. So that's 4 agencies in two cities for me over a 13yr 1102 career (27 total civil service). At 50 years old, I still have somewhere between 6-12 years to go, and I look forward to seeing what opportunities come up next.
  15. GSA's MAS program and their Strategic Sourcing programs are 2 related but different things. The MAS program is what was discussed above, whereas their strategic sourcing programs are either: a: a smaller subset of their MAS program contracts (like with MRO and OS2/3), and by "smaller" I mean less than 20 in most cases, which is quite a departure from several thousand. or b: an open market "solution" (like with their BMO projects)
  16. I worked for GSA for 4 years in the MAS program, and these numbers do not surprise me in the least. Too many companies are persuaded to get a GSA contract by hucksters out there ready to charge them thousands of dollars to help get them on Schedule, promising great profits in return, only to learn that they really aren't that competitive in the federal market. We had one case where one of these "consultants" had a company get on Schedule, and then we never heard from the company. Once we were finally able to contact them, we learned they were an Amish-owned company and didn't know they had to do things online (like list their products, respond to RFQs, etc). It was sad because they paid $10,000 to this "consultant" to get on contract. We would often try to discourage a contractor from getting on Schedule by telling them the facts, but often a consultant would instruct their client to always refer us to them. There was one company in Florida that kept getting the ire of their Better Business Bureau and each time they got caught, they would simply shut down, create a company under a new name, and go at it again. It was sad. There is a sales requirement to stay on contract. You have to have $25k of Schedule sales during the first 2 years, and then $25k each year thereafter. Since many of these small companies are only on Schedule to try to market to a local military base (or other gov't entity), they just can't be competitive enough to meet that criteria. Now that I think about it, 32.8% with $0 in sales is a low number! GSA must finally be weeded some out. We used to be closer to 40%.
  17. It varies from agency to agency. Some agencies do exactly as Boof stated, while others have more stringent requirements and all justifications above the micro-purchase threshold are required to be posted. I would recommend checking with your agency's supplemental guidance.
  18. I've always been curious why, especially for an RFP where contractors are given 60 days or longer, contractors typically wait until the last day (or in some cases, the last hour) to send in their proposals? I would think if you are putting in that time and effort for a contract worth thousands or millions of dollars, you would want to get your proposal in a few days early just to avoid situations such as this.
  19. I don't know that a contractor can "demand" a government employee to do anything, much less access a contractor-owned system. Since the solicitation is required to state how a potential offeror shall submit their proposal (and accompanying data), I would not think that a contractor can require the government to utilize their system (unless such an arrangement is allowed for within the solicitation). The solicitation is the "source" that you seek. What does it say?
  20. Be very careful here. This is where GSA and the DOJ have a field day with the False Claims Act. If you withhold disclosure of a customer or group of customers that would have revealed a different BOA, then you can open yourself up to a FCA violation. Also, if you sell to a non-BOA and the price is lower than to your BOA and you did not disclose that information, you could be considered in violation of the FCA because the logic used is that if you had disclosed this other customer or category of customers, they would have been the BOA and not the one declared. It is best to disclose all discount sales information. GSA will attempt to negotiate to their best advantage, but so will you. You can argue why a certain customer or category of customers should not be declared by BOA, but if you just withhold the information and it is discovered later in an audit or by a whistleblower, you could pay some hefty fines.
  21. Some contract writing programs that some agencies use do not give the contract specialist the option on whether or not to have the check boxes available. This is why you may see them on sole source acquisitions. The system simply has the boxes available on all postings.
  22. Vern - It is odd, but the way GSA operates the FSS program is that every time an update to an FSS Schedule solicitation is done (called a "refresh"), electronic modifications go out to all the FSS contract holders that carry that particular Schedule. So, the easiest way to see a current contract is to look at the current solicitation. Back about 3-4 years ago, GSA initiated the "Goldstar" initiative which allows everyone to see what clauses are in a particular schedule/contract by utilizing GSA Elibrary as Metteec mentioned. Since some of these contracts go back more than a decade (5 year base period plus 3-5yr options), it is actually easier to use Elibrary than it is to get a copy of the contract plus countless modifications.
  23. Number 2 there sounds like you are talking about resellers/distributors. I have ran across that situation as well. When you reference the GSA Schedule contract number in FPDS-NG, it will automatically pull in the DUNS/CAGE from the GSA award. If that doesn't match the DUNS/CAGE you put in your contract writing system (example: a reseller or distributor) then you will have the situation you describe. I used to tell resellers/distributors that the order has to be written to the GSA Schedule contract-holder and that we could put in a line on the order somewhere that lists the resellers name/address, but that's all we can do. The credit for the sale would have to be worked out internally between the Schedule-holder and the reseller/distributor. As far as (1) goes, all you can do is inform people where the information is (GSA eLibrary). The due diligence to verify the information is on the CO.
  24. Why would the award and the FPDS have different CAGE/DUNS? The DUNS number awarded to a specific contract can be found within GSA's eLibrary (www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/), so it should be easy to make sure that the award matches the right DUNS for the GSA Contractor.
  25. It also depends on if the card is being used as the payment method, or both the purchase and payment method. When I was with DoD, we used the card as a payment method for several contracts, some of which had monthly payments of several hundred thousand dollars per month.
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