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vecchia capra

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  1. vecchia capra

    Mistake in quote

    Vern, I misspoke about the quote leading to an award, the misuse of terms in my office has started to bleed over into my own writing unfortunately. Brian, Yes, as the vendor who quoted the lowest price was told by the manufacturer (who was in contact with all the other vendors as well) who had the lowest price. The lowest vendor all but asked when his award would be issued when he called to ask for the status of the souce selection. To all, An interesting twist came up yesterday, after reviewing the quote in question and the other quotes, I was unable to substantiate that the quote indeed had a "mistake". The quote actually was structured properly, had the correct number of items quoted, and matched all the other quotes in how the product and maintenance were quoted. I contacted the vendor and asked him to substantiate the "mistake' he claimed. I also reminded him that if his mistake was allowed to be corrected, the award would be issued to his company and they would be responsible for performance at those prices as it was a FFP requirement. The contractor waffled at that point, and said he would make sure that his mistake was really a mistake and would call me back. He did so a few hours later and admitted that his original quote was correct and that his claimed mistake was in error. At the end, this was an interested case study that meant nothing, we are exactly where we were before the contractor emailed us with his mistake. Thanks to everyone for their imput, and for helping me see this from an outside viewpoint.
  2. vecchia capra

    Mistake in quote

    I am working on an RFQ where 5 quotes were submitted, and we are within a day or so of award. A vendor has been selected based on the lowest price, and the business clearance has been approved by the CO. Then, one of the vendors who was not the apparent lowest contacted me this morning and stated that his quote had a mistake where he included an extra option year into his price. A review of the contractor's quote backed that up, the untitled quote was added below the titled quotes. My question is: Is it appropriate to allow the vendor who made the mistake to correct his error? If we did not allow the vendor to correct his error, would the other vendor who we though had the lowest price be likely to win a protest against the Government? My belief, based on research on the GAO website is that we should allow the vendor to correct his mistake and redirect the award to the actual lowest priced vendor, the one who corrected his quote. Am I wrong in that belief?
  3. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has an opposing opinion to your first statement: E. Closing task and delivery orders: Task and delivery orders are not considered to be individual contracts. http://www.hhs.gov/asfr/ogapa/acquisition/contract-closeout-chapter3.html#Closingtask
  4. vecchia capra


    Yes, it is a claim. Certification is something applied to a claim so whether or not it is certified is irrelevant to its status as a claim.
  5. vecchia capra


  6. Once again I totally agree with you Vern! Construction is da bomb, IT is as complicated but not nearly as much fun.
  7. Vern, I don't disagree with you as you have much more experience than I do in observing how organizations administer their contracting profession. I can only base my opinion on what I have seen, which is pretty dismal currently. An example of how bad things are is in how long it takes to award contracts and simple delivery/task orders these days. The latest major award in my office for an Multi Award (3 contractors) ID/IQ contract took two years to accomplish. Basic DO/TOs are taking up to 6 months and rarely less than 3 months to award. Using NAVFACs system those activities took at least 1/3 less time, and in some cases less than 1/2 as much time. My current environment is IT contracting and NAVFAC was in a contstruction/environmental remediation environment, which I see as relatively equal in complexity. Perhaps my experience is not the norm, but I saw similar trends in my last office, which as a training and simulation acquisition center.
  8. Vern, I believe the entire system at NAVFAC SW Division office in San Diego was a good system. It supported the field 1102's with a variety of tools to assist and standardize processes without adding to bureaucratic burdens, provided a clear distinction between procurement and adminstrative contracting, supported true price and cost analysis activities, and enhanced the relationship between 1102's and the PM through matrixed teams that were co-located. In my office, I sat two cubes down from my PM so we could talk face to face within 5 steps from each others desk. No other office has done as well in those areas, an example is my current PM's are either on a diffent floor of a 12 story building or in another city altogether and much less available for close working collaboration. The MATOCS helped by allowing competition within previously qualified contractors that in turn allowed for more efficient solicitations. We already knew the prevaliing rates, so we could focus on performance; who could do a better, faster or less expensive job. All we had to do is make sure our solicitation packages reflected those characteristics. The data we collected from each award added to our market research database, which by the time I arrived at NAVFAC was already very robust. For example; I could track how much a Project Engineer specializing in Environment Remediation for a high/medium/low compexity project would cost through the previous 5 years very easily. The commercial tools they provided were excellent, and were used extensively by the PM and 1102 staff to estimate pricing and to evaluate pricing. No other office I have worked in (6 offices in my anecdotal experience), has used those tools and methods as well or at all, nor have they substituted another tool or method to accomplish those tasks as well. Overall, the system at NAVFAC SW Div was the best I have ever worked in. The leadership was outstanding, the workforce was the most enthusiastic and happy that I have worked with in all of my contracting jobs, and the location in San Diego is heavenly (with a price tag that reflects that status unfortunately). The only reason I am not there today is my better half does not like living California, so here I am on the East Coast.
  9. Joel, NAVFAC avoided single award task orders starting well before it became widely practiced and set up multi-award, multi-contractor ID/IQ contracts that allowed for competition. The contracts were set up with pools of contractors for nearly every kind of work that NAVFAC did, from environmental remediation, military construction, commercial construction and speciality projects such as trailer renovation (the Navy had a lot of trailers but was not allowed to buy anymore, hence the need for trailer renovation). Most types had pools of small businesses and large businesses that could be either set aside or grouped together. In cases where a new requirement arose where there was not a pool of contractors that fit that requirement, we would either compete the requirement like any other office would or if time was available, as a seed project for a new multi-award/multi-contractor ID/IQ contract. In cases where a major modification to an existing contract was needed, or a sole source award was approved, NAVFAC used their database of existing labor rates, the hours needed to build structures of a given number of stories, square feet, etc., and also bounced that information off of commercial databases that reported on economic factors such as the costs of construction materials, labor shortages in local and regional areas, and other information. NAVFAC also encouraged its PMs and contracting folks to learn and conduct serious cost analysis, much more so than in any other office I have worked in. It was a good system, many times we on the Government side knew just as much as the contractor did on what their company was paying for their materials and labor. I am not saying that the system used by ACE is wrong, I just think that it may be time for a review of that system and based on that review, there may be some opportunities for improvement. I get the feeling that the contractors and perhaps even those in ACE believe that is true as well.
  10. When I was working for NAVFAC, we used a database of previous contracts for construction projects to assist us in determining the IGCE for work. We also checked those estimates against a commercially available tool that conglomerated the wage information, cost of supplies and building materials and other economic factors into a fairly easy to use system to logic check our estimates. To pay for the work, we simply verified that the invoice line items were linked to the contract clins, were allocable and allowable, and matched the project schedule associated with the contract. We also performed site visits with the invoice in hand to link invoice amounts to specific work, making sure that the work was done, accepted and that any punch list items were accounted for. When it comes to your office, I cannot recommend any particular methods since I am not familiar with your systems, agency regulations or office procedures. It just seems to me that a system that appears (based on your description), to be at least 20 years old, is ripe for a revisit. Based on your comments along with the blog article, the contractor community would likely agree that it should be updated. If I were the leader in your organization, I would sit down with some of that contractor community and let them help me investigate a better way to price contract actions and make payments for work accomplished. A lot has changed in the last 20 years, so I would bet that better systems and new software is available that would be better for the both the contractors and the Government.
  11. Rookie1102, It has been my experience that the task orders and the base contract are a unit, and the the retention period is for the contract AND its delivery orders as a whole. The only time I have seen anything contrary to that has been when a delivery/task order is awarded on a GSA schedule or external contract outside of the office awarding the order. I have never seen or heard of an office sending GSA or external award delivery/task order files to GSA or to another agency when those orders were closed out, so I believe those orders are treated as individual contracts. This experience has seen some extreme cases, where it took a 40ft container to cart off a MSMO Vessel Maintenance ID/IQ contract off to the storage facility. The base contract took up one box, the task orders filled the balance of the container.
  12. Joel, Thanks for the reply. I think the key here is "a specialized, trained staff to develop, manage, negotiate and administer task orders", which to me seems a bit much given the atmosphere in Government contracting today. I remember the team that managed the BOS/JOC contract at Ft Benning, a team of three individuals, who spent months at a time merely administering the Award Fee determination, including negotiations with both the contractor and the base representatives. I just don't understand why an office would intentionally seek to use a process that required such specialized and trained staff when simpler methods are available to accomplish the same task. My reasonings for that conclusion is that Government contracting is getting more bureaucratic by the day, more burdened with processes, paperwork and hoops to jump through, and expected to do all that without any increase in staffing or even reductions in staffing. Sooner or later there will be a breaking point, where offices cannot spend inordinate amounts of time on complicated processes because they will not have the staff to manage those tasks in the timeframes they are given. I believe that the time to prepare for an era where doing more with less is squared and cubed, and we will have to do things in the most common sense way, kinda a KISS principle thing.
  13. vecchia capra

    Offerors Need To Understand The Pricing Scheme And Any Caveats

    Joel, What is the benefit of using such a scheme? It seems to me that it is difficult to manage from both sides, and can be interpreted differently by each side even when the inputs are agreed upon by both sides. I can understand why I have never seen this pricing scheme, I have not worked for the USACE or the USAF, I have worked for NAVFAC and the Army Contracting Agency and they did not use such a complicated pricing system in those organizations.
  14. vecchia capra

    Offerors Need To Understand The Pricing Scheme And Any Caveats

    I wonder if the Army's pricing "scheme" (perhaps that word is especially apt in this case), is the norm for commercial construction contracting or found in any other Government contracting offices. I have worked on construction contracts for both Navy and Army organizations and I have never seen such a "scheme" in use in those offices. I cannot imagine that a commercial construction contract would base its pricing on such an arcane system when simply adding the allowable costs seems to be sufficient. I also wonder why any commercial company, short of desperation, would agree to such terms.
  15. I do not believe that the terms of the solicitation/contract that will be awarded will have a real impact because of this section of the clause "...whose employment will be terminated as a result of the award of this contract...". If the incumbent does not terminate their employees in the case it does not win the follow on contract, then the clause is irrelevant. I believe that the Right of First Refusal clause is primarily for SCA covered employees who will be terminated if the incumbent does not win the follow on contract. In cases where professional employees are involved, I believe the dynamic is much different because the relationship between the professional employees and the company is different than that found in non-professional employees (landscaping, refuse collection, custodial, etc.) and their companies. My organization is currently transitioning betweet an incumbent professional IT services contractor and a new multiple award contract with 2 or 3 contracts, and we did not even include a Right of First Refusal clause in the soliticiation. I would really be surprised if any of the incumbent contractor employees were terminated should the incumbent not be selected for award unless that company was downsizing for some other reason.
  16. I have found that biggest "change agent" in both DoD and civilian agency contracting software sytems is finance divisions and managers. The automated contracting systems are dumbed down to fit the accounting system to fit whatever the finance managers want. I am currently dealing with a finance system that cannot figure out that contract payments need to be deducted from contract clins and not accounting lines right now. Frequently a contract has the same line of accounting for different clins. When the invoice is received, finance deducts the funding by line of accounting, and often the wrong clin in the process. The finance division is impervious from any instructions, requests, prayers or management directives to stop doing that. So far all our communication is being ignored and just today I found another case where an invoice payment taken from the wrong clin. In this case, an invoice from one option year was paid from the funding from the following option year, meaning there is a surplus of funding from the elapsed option and a deficit in the current option year.
  17. vecchia capra

    Why protest?

    Be careful when a reporter says or writes "no-bid contracts". My research on several instance where I saw that written and I had access to the contract information showed that the "no-bid contract" was either a delivery order from a competed single source ID/IQ contract or a contract modification. Reporters don't always know what they are talking about. They like to add emotional content by refering to things like describing a device to store ammunition as a "clip" and a .22 target rifle as an "automatic assault weapon".
  18. vecchia capra

    GSA Official Reinstated

    I think that sometimes agencies and Congress treats IG offices like they were attack dogs, with the same amount of intelligence as those K9s. They attack on demand, with little thought to reasonableness or research. They fill documents with, as in the Prouty decision, hearsay and rumors, and do what they are expected to do, and if some judge reverses the decisions, it will be years later and the message will still be sent to all; creating displeasure for the ruling class will have consequences. Our government is acting more like a middle ages kingdom than a representative government these days.
  19. vecchia capra

    GSA Official Reinstated

    Perhaps I read the document incorrectly, but it seems to me that the judge said the impermissive costs of the confernence were the responsibility of Neely in District 9 and not Prouty in District 8. It's kind of hard to be responsible in Denver for what is spent by a separate, non-reporting office in Sacramento. In the end, I think the public should be happy if they fire the guy in the tub drinking a glass of bubbly with Las Vegas in the background. Going after everyone who was associated with the conference is, according to the judge, not appropriate unless they had some very strong role in the malfeasance.
  20. vecchia capra

    Fed seeking private sector employment

    When I was considering leaving the civil service for a private sector job, the first thing I did was take an inventory of every vendor, contractor, subcontractor, etc. that I had dealt with as a Contract Specialist. All of them were off the list, so I did not apply for any positions with those firms. I also spoke with the ethics officer for my office, let that person know my intent and showed him my list of no-gos. He issued me a letter stating that he had no legal issues with my search. When it was time to leave the civil service for position with a DoD contractor, I met with the office ethics officer again, he verified that I had not worked on any contracts or DO/TOs that involved that company and documented that information in a second letter. Shortly after that, I resigned and went to work for that company. I would still be there but the division I worked in was shut down about 2 years after I started there, and I returned to civil service where I am working today. It's not rocket science, and the only pitfall that I can see would be if the the ethics officer spilled the beans that you were thinking about leaving to your current supervisor, which might make for some uncomfortable meetings if you have not communicated your intentions to your supervisor earlier.
  21. vecchia capra

    Letting Proposals Expire after 60 days

    If you feel that doing the right thing is dangerous to your family, I cannot advise you. I can only tell you that I have resigned from the Civil Service and moved to another state when I found similar things in the office that I was working in and my family was NOT endangered by those players. I cannot image that I would remain in an industry or market where doing the right thing would put my family at risk, no matter how much money I was making.
  22. vecchia capra

    Letting Proposals Expire after 60 days

    If you truly have evidence that your competitor was an employee of the organization that solicited the subject requirement, and that he was involved with writing the PWS in any way, then you should be getting your attorney spun up for a protest NOW. That is unless you really don't want to do this work, then let the poor shmuck who is by your account breaking the rules, get the contract. I have on a few occasions heard PM folks make offhand comments about retiring, starting a business that will compete for a a program they are working on. I have done my best to remind them of the ethical prohibition from doing that, reminding them that I will be looking for just such instances when I am working on solicitations and awards.
  23. vecchia capra

    Contracts vs. Civil Service Employees

    The answer to any of the COs who say hiring a contractor when a civil service position is unfillable or that hiring a contractor to fill a medical position is this: cite your law/regulation or keep your opinions to yourself. I know of at least one DoD installation that hired medical personnel on both a personal services basis and on a non-personal basis: Ft Benning's Martin Army Community Hospital. In non-medical offices, every organization that I have worked in has had at least some contractor personnel filling a postition that could be filled by a civil service employee. One of those office had contractors working in Contract Specialist positions. In my current office there are hundreds of contractors working next to civil service employees, and in some cases they are doing the exact same jobs. DHS is sensitive to this situation, and has established a program to reduce the number of contractors working in "inherently" government positions, but the upcoming (April 7, 2013) hiring freeze will do little to assist the agency in that task. DoD is also trying to get a handle on the problem from what I have heard, but they are probably in a worse situation than DHS right now. In many cases, its either have a contractor fill a position or do without altogether due to the hiring freeze or lack of applicants who are qualified.
  24. vecchia capra

    Thoughts on FSSIs

    I'm processing three actions right now that have been affected by the 'Strategic Sourcing" fad, only in my case it's a DHS Directive (060-01) driving the wagon. The Directive states that DHS components SHALL direct any acquisition that fits into the listed categories to a DHS contract vehicle. The whole DHS world is divided into about 25 categories, and all but 3-4 of those have mandatory internal sources unless a waiver is signed by the DHS Strategic Sourcing Manager. Good bye GSA Schedules, NASA SEWP or any other sources, including true full and open competition. The only thing I can use the GSA Schedules or any other source for now is market research or pricing infomation. Is this a wonderful country or what!!!!????