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jayandstacey

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  1. jayandstacey

    RFPs for Commercial Items

    It would, it would just take a generation to get the full results. I believe the new proposal to conduct surveys after solicitations may also get to similar results with the existing workforce. If used effectively, I'd hope that such surveys would identify both best practices (top 10%) and worst practices (bottom 10%) and address them - maybe not with new regulations, but rather improved tools, training and sharing. At least at the beginning, it would help identify where the worst pain and best practices are, as identified by everyone involved. That's the hope anyway, time will tell.
  2. jayandstacey

    SAM Scam

    I manage the SAM registration for a large company and every so often I get a panicked email from an executive..."I just got this SAM email warning..." And I spend the next 15 minutes explaining how all's well and that yes, I am actually doing my job (that's the part that's most frustrating; it makes me look bad, like some escalation happened due to my lack of diligence) Is it a scam? Well, I dunno, if they do in fact make the renewal happen, maybe not. People (used to) pay to have someone else drive their car across some big bridges, right? Fear is the only impediment... I wonder though how/if the processing company reviews the actual Ts &Cs that are renewed - and if they advise the underlying company in any way regarding those Ts&Cs. Two other notes: - The new SAM affidavit template for indicating who's got authority to edit SAM entries has a check box to indicate that a third party may be given rights to do so. I'm not sure how many companies farm out this responsibility, I'm a bit surprised that anyone does. - Getting the spam emails is kind of nice in a way. It's a way I know that renewal is approaching - so they serve as nice little reminders.
  3. Agreed. One "good faith effort" is to create a portal, is it not? The subcontractor bids against others on pieces of the contract as they come up. If the subcontractor doesn't have the lowest qualified price, they aren't selected. The Prime enabled the sub in every way, providing a good faith effort; all the sub needed to do was to propose a better price. The clause has the feel that it was written by a prime. Like the Fox's security system for the Hen House.
  4. "Never confuse winning with delivering" A few observations on this (note, I'm being purposely vague here, I leave it to you, 76fj40, to research): You mentioned the SubK Plan in your first post - have you seen a SubK Plan were your firm is mentioned and committed? In my limited experience, the prime's commitment is to hit % subcontracting goals - while maintaining their right to choose how those goals are met (and with whom). The SubK Plan may provide a list of subcontractors and even indicate where TA's exist, but primarily to show that the Prime can be reasonably expected to deliver on their Plan - not as a binding commitment to the Government to subcontract business to those particular companies. I believe RetreadFed is suggesting recent rulings in VA where TAs were not considered contracts because they were "promises to make promises" or something like that...and thus generally not enforceable. Subcontracts are another story - but if you're subject to things like "at a reasonable price" or "as decided by the PM" or such, well, then they probably aren't much better and all you really have is a ticket to be considered...which may never result in any actual business. Yet - someone is doing the work. I'd talk to the Prime(s) and ask where it is going and why. I'd figure out how to be THAT guy (the one getting the business post-award) rather than the guy spending resources helping the prime win in the first place. And don't think that one has much of anything to do with the other. Its different decision makers, different care-abouts, different goals.
  5. jayandstacey

    A Hiring Challenge.

    Believe it or not, I love the idea in concept. It achieves your stated goals. It creates that "earned it" mentality you mention in the post above, where an employee will be a little more bought in to the company for having invested in the challenge of getting the job. It is well established that writing samples (typically in a shorter format) are an accepted, proven hiring tool. The concept has merit. You provided parameters that seemed to invite an application into the real world... a specific salary, a specific type of hiring company, etc. In fairness, I just think (in the spirit of a thought experiment) that an application of this approach in the real world would have some challenges to consider, and might not make it past the HR folks. Having conducted somewhat similar hiring, and having tried creative approaches when doing so, and having consistent resistance to such, maybe my spirit is just sullied. You didn't ask that though...you asked us to put ourselves in the shoes of an applicant, and I rather like the exercise as an applicant in the abstract. If it were tailored to my particular expertise I believe I would do very well, thanks in part to the aforementioned nuns. Sorry for ripping into it.
  6. jayandstacey

    A Hiring Challenge.

    Will do - Always good advice when the gedanken experiment takes an ad hominem turn. Have a good weekend!
  7. jayandstacey

    A Hiring Challenge.

    (realizing that Vern doesn't want to hear this...) If I'm one of the final 3 applicants and give a 6 hour/3000 word essay prior to being hired, there is a 2 in 3 chance that I just gave away valued work product for free, to a probable competitor (assuming I have a 1 in 3 chance of being hired from the exercise). Being that the exercise is to write to a 101 level essay, the facts therein may not be very proprietary. But the assembly and organization of it, and any insights, might be valuable to a company. Hiring is a very litigious area. As the hiring company asking this of applicants, I'd consider getting some kind of waiver from the applicant, and in exchange, I'd commit that their work would be destroyed if they were not chosen for the job. I'd have a contingency plan in case one applicant says "sorry, my time is too valuable - I can provide one hour, or samples..." and in doing so, I'd have to review all these steps against my goal: to hire the best applicant. Am I losing more than I am gaining? Funny thing, I like writing essays and would relish the exercise in my areas of knowledge. But if I were the hiring company, I would find other ways to be creative, enticing and low risk yet thorough in my search.
  8. jayandstacey

    A Hiring Challenge

    Kind of reminds me of an episode of "The Office" where Dwight Schrute is training/evaluating Ryan, who wants to get into sales. Dwight takes the Ryan to his barn, straps Ryan into a chair and begins to grill him. At the end of the questioning, Dwight declares that to really sell, one must overcome fear. And as Dwight yells the word "fear" - Dwight's cousin jumps out of hiding, into Ryan's face in a threatening manner, wearing the word "fear" across his sweatshirt. Ryan gets up, shakes his head and walks out. I mean, yes, Dwight was right. His methods were just a bit unorthodox.
  9. jayandstacey

    A Hiring Challenge

    I believe that in the real world, a "a large, highly reputable, and very successful corporation" will have some inkling of who's out there - by knowing who they've come up against. Such a company would have the luxury of hiring based on observed, real world results; results they seen work well for other companies. I also believe that such folks are hired for other aspects of the job, things like the ability to negotiate with management, to make compelling presentations, etc. To wit, such an exercise might in fact scare off the best-of-breed applicants. Remember the company is also selling to the candidate, and at this level the company profile becomes more and more important. And there is NO company that doesn't have a reasonable competitor alternative for such a job requirement - applicants will walk away from scenarios they feel aren't a good fit, even if the company is successful overall. The best of breed applicant might look at this and say "really, you're going to lock me in a room for 6 of my valuable hours to write you a 101 essay that you're going to possess BEFORE you offer me a job? Nope!" Instead, I think the savvy hiring team gets (close to) the assessments you seek through a series of coordinated interviews combined with market knowledge. The first interviewer asks a few questions to lead down the path of the essay topic. The first interviewer shares notes and the second drills down a little further. Etc. Maybe writing samples are requested (note - yes, they may have had help with their writing sample...but won't the successful new hire have help in their new position?) Might still be the same 6 hours but is more flexible and less likely to scare off the candidate. It also allows the company to remove candidates after the first interview or two, without the need to evaluate an entire essay. Having said all this, I think that such an exercise might be useful for existing employees to consider how/where to expand roles. For instance, a director has a team of 5 managers and they are looking to grow their existing their long-term support services business. The director uses Mr. Edwards' approach with the 5 managers to see who's a best fit for the new role AND to scoop up good ideas from the rest. Now to answer your questions: Do you think the challenge is reasonable? Overall, no, not for experienced, external candidates. Would you accept the challenge or walk away? I'd be really concerned about the kind of work environment I was getting into. Unless unemployed at the time, I'd probably walk away from the concept. It smacks too much of a company looking to get free work from me, or that has weird job requirements that I'm not able to imagine yet, or that likes to surprise the employees. If I'm a senior level applicant, I'm not too interested in the possibility of workplace/HR experiments, particularly while doing government related work. If you would accept, how well do you think you would do? On that particular topic, not well - it is not my background. On others, fairly well.
  10. jayandstacey

    Probability Problem #2

    Got it, agree. I recall coming out of the FAR Bootcamp thinking "Who knew that Sister Boniface's sentence diagraming would be the most useful skill in this course?" (BTW, great course, had fun and learned a lot. Get a nun to teach it and you'd really have something! ) The result, as you lay it out in the top of the same posting, also makes business sense. The gotcha is to get away from the notion that a cost evaluation must result in a single, fixed number. There's a strong temptation to distill a complex offer into a single evaluation data point, and that isn't always the right approach.
  11. jayandstacey

    Probability Problem #2

    I think we are assuming that these are %s that the CO has independently calculated. To me, it points to the idea that more offeror info/discussions/research should be conducted to break the tie and determine the most likely cost. I could be wrong about this, but I feel like these are simple %s applied to complex scenarios. To look to the future and say “there is exactly a 50/50 chance” between two outcomes in such a scenario seems either virtually impossible OR an admission that very little is known about the scenario. Are there real world contracting scenarios where a proposed cost may be A or B, and the chance of A or B is known to be an even 50%? I sense the writers of the FAR clause didn’t think such things existed. (Edit- using my own drawbridge example from above, then let’s assume a third offeror “Smith” has a drawbridge that’s open 50% of the time, thus creating the scenario you ask about here...in that case, if I’m the CO, I think I realize that the FAR doesn’t cover everything, it can’t. And I think I make the call that says “the tie goes to the runner” and I allow the Smith offer to be evaluated at the lower cost (with a higher ‘ding’ in the risk evaluation). I document the file as such, and if any other offeror also has a true 50/50 cost, I treat them the same. Having said that; I’d at least try to see if in fact the drawbridge is open EXACTLY 50% of the time, given the aging infrastructure and all that...) (a little more editing: I believe one of basic tenants of the FAR is that the Government is choosing. Choosing awardees, requirements, evaluation factors, etc. It is the job of the CO to choose in many situations. Often there just isn’t room for a “tie”; the Government can’t buy the same tank from two different companies. It has to choose one. I believe this clause is an instance of that, suggesting that the CO reasonably determine the most likely cost and use that as the basis for evaluation. It doesn’t leave room for a 50/50 because...it’s in the business of choosing. It instructs the CO to find the most likely cost; 50/50 is not following the instruction. Have I gone off the rails? It’s late.)
  12. jayandstacey

    Probability Problem #2

    I’m confused by this: the FAR citation I provided does say “most likely”, doesn’t it? Am I quoting an older FAR version? I agree with everything else you’ve said, including the slippery slope argument. I almost posted a longer version of my earlier post, which would have continued on...I would have taken the risk of the higher cost basis and shifted this into my risk evaluation. This is not to say that the Hoffman cost isn’t reasonable, or that any more math has to be done. Just that the Hoffman offer has a higher chance for a higher cost...and thus gets a “ding” (however that was defined in the RFP) in the risk evaluation. But in the cost evaluation section, they are both evaluated at $100m. I think FAR 15.404-1(d)(2)(i) instructs this. I also happen to believe this is a reasonable approach. While I understand probabilities, they also present us here with impossible numbers (for evaluation purposes) that is better addressed in a separate risk evaluation. To illustrate: let’s say we are evaluating Edwards’ and Hoffman’s ability to drive from their respective houses to mine. Both can do so in 100 minutes and both normally would do so. But both have a drawbridge that opens occasionally for 20 minutes. Thing is, Hoffman’s drawbridge opens twice as often as Edwards’. As an exercise I could get to 104 and 108 minutes as their time to get to me. But of course neither of these times would EVER be the actual times. I think it is more appropriate to say “both are likely to get here in 100 minutes. Both have a risk of a 20 minute delay. Hoffman’s risk of delay happens to be twice Edwards’.” Doesn’t that accurately describe the cost situation? I didn’t mention this as Don didn’t mention anything about how risk is considered in the solicitation. Nor am I a contracting officer...so I don’t have working familiarity with this. But if I were, I’d be reluctant to introduce manufactured numbers like $104m when I could factor the increased risk elsewhere. You mentioned that you’ve not seen a protest addressing combined probabilities used in cost evaluations...but why even go there (assuming there’s room in the evaluation factors to plug in general risk factors?) If this is a dufus question I won’t expect an answer. As a side note, years ago I almost did protest on a fairly similar instance; a talk with the CO shifted the thinking.
  13. jayandstacey

    Probability Problem #2

    I'd use $100m for each. FAR 15.404-1(d) includes: (2) Cost realism analyses shall be performed on cost-reimbursement contracts to determine the probable cost of performance for each offeror. (i) The probable cost may differ from the proposed cost and should reflect the Government’s best estimate of the cost of any contract that is most likely to result from the offeror’s proposal. The probable cost shall be used for purposes of evaluation to determine the best value. In each offer, the probable cost is $100m, since $100m is the most likely outcome from either offer.
  14. Wasn't that essentially the root issue in the Kingdomware decision? That the VA stopped doing SDVOSB set-asides once the goals were met? Only one example, I know...and this was a bit of a corner case due to the uniqueness of the VA and SDVOSBs...but the practice seemed to be there.
  15. This one is particularly perplexing. The current system is pretty much like a run up to a cliff. You're advantaged to drive success, then the advantages are pulled away at a point where you may be too small to effectively compete against the big guys, and you're disadvantaged (or even not allowed to compete) with companies that have only 10 less employees than you do. So the path becomes, almost invariably, to grow the business to the line then cash out. Forget about the fact that at the line, you might be the type of business that can REALLY be an economic engine under a more level playing field, generating increasing growth in jobs and revenues. Nope - you sell out to one of the big guys, or simply close the doors at that point. The only thing keeping this from being a disaster for some companies seems to be the inconsistency of the application of small vs large. As a company becomes larger, it begins to tick off various NAICS codes it can't bid under as small, until it runs out. Likewise, contracts have various re-certification schedules, where the company might be able to maintain their small status for some time on some contracts. So the cliff isn't exactly sheer, but it is pretty steep. Which in some ways is worse. As I said above, I've considered what fixes I'd make. I've thought about patches to the current system, whole new systems, and ditching the system entirely. The latter seems to make the most sense, yet is least likely politically. Which leaves us with a vending machine that everyone seems to know how to shake to get free stuff.
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