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fizzy

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  1. You're right, FormerFed. Sometimes it's just human nature to have difficulty with hard conversations, and maybe there's a hard conversation looming in the background of this post. It would greatly benefit the OP to have clear feedback. On the other hand, every once in a while situations arise where there's no rational reason for what's occurring. A person simply becomes a "target" of hostile behavior. Not everyone has witnessed or experienced it, but it's common in bureaucracies. The person is somehow different from the group, though not objectively lacking in skill, and that difference triggers defensive, exclusive behaviors from people around them. The first time I witnessed something like this happening more than 15 years ago, I was very naive about it. I just believed what I was told by my manager about person X being a problem. Years later, my perspective changed. Sometimes, people are targeted because of their competence. It's not easy to question the people you work for, and instinctively want to please, but I believe we need to try to have the courage to think independently and be ethical in everything. At the end of the day, we really work for our country, and we have an obligation to question our leadership if we think there might be a problem. They are just civil servants, too. There is academic research on this phenomenon, if anyone is interested. It's called "mobbing" and is related to workplace bullying. I have no idea if that's what's really happening with the OP, but not understanding the reason for constant denials of promotions is a red flag.
  2. I completely agree with you, FormerFed, and this could be an accurate description of what's occurring. However, things aren't always that clean. We really don't know, and can't pre-judge without being there. We have no real evidence at this point that who we are communicating with is a stickler for technical accuracy and lacks flexibility or communication skills. The OP seems confused. Nobody has pointed out these deficits, at least according to the post. Why assume they are there, and feedback is just being withheld in his or her performance reviews? The very first thing a person would do in this situation is ask what they're doing wrong, because if they know that, they can fix it. Assuming that happened, (big assumption, but very possible) does it make sense to not tell a person working for you where you want to see improvement? If you withhold that information, the very information they need to advance, and benefit you, and the organization, what's your real motivation? This is the red flag for me in the post. Why doesn't he or she know what's wrong, if there is really something wrong? Even if the problem is valid, not having the will to constructively disclose the problem to the employee, knowing full well they wish to advance, indicates an organizational problem. When something is really a problem, a manager motivated by the business interests of the organization tries to solve it, and can easily communicate the specifics of the problem to the employee. Why is this person at such a loss to understand what's happening? It's really important for the OP to honestly sort out whether he or she is dealing with the consequences of their own deficits, and has the power to amend the situation, or whether he or she is dealing with something outside of their power to resolve. I do agree that trying to have very candid conversations with management is good advice, but it also may not solve anything.
  3. The real question you should ask yourself is what kind of actionable intelligence a FOIA response would provide. Unless you're certain a FOIA response would reveal overwhelming evidence of a violation of law, and not simply a violation of policy, I would question the usefulness of pursuing that route. If the official who does not want to see you promoted is in a position of enough influence and power, policy essentially becomes how they and their peers interpret an issue on any given day, and there are limited avenues for appeal. Even if you believe there's a violation of law, and not just policy, do you have the money and time to pursue a legal dispute with an agency with unlimited legal resources? Most people don't. The bitter pill to swallow is that life isn't fair, people aren't always assessed objectively and fairly, and sometimes people don't like you for irrational reasons. You can't control the VA, or the selection authority, but you can control what you do from this point forward to get out of a bad situation and into a better one, where you can use your skills productively and be rewarded for them. It's also worth saying that it doesn't hurt to really try to understand deeply why the selection authority is blocking your opportunities. It very well may be that there is no good reason, but you may also find some silver lining of useful feedback. Don't let yourself get mired in an unwinnable dispute. Take the positives, where you can find them, and move on from the negatives.
  4. Mr. Edwards, your explanation has made me realize two things. First, there is (was) not anyone in my supervisory chain of command at the time I was thinking about this particular matter who had any knowledge of contracting or legal matters whatsoever, so the idea of seeking guidance or direction from them just doesn't (wouldn't have) make sense. Second, despite not having knowledge or expertise, no independent decisions by people who are responsible for knowing something about contracting matters are allowed by those in the chain of command. Rather than consider a person who forms an opinion and makes a decision competent, the leadership finds such behavior highly threatening and seeks out ways to reverse, undermine, and chastise all independent decision making. My comment made perfect sense to me, but in contrast to other professional environments, I can clearly see how it might not make sense.
  5. OP, please let us know how this turns out for you. I'm very curious. Mr. Edwards, the answer to your question is to escalate and seek consensus on the definition of consolidation of contracts through the chain of command. I did not find such black and white answers as would be suggested in this thread as I escalated this matter through my chain of command. My interpretation means nothing if my chain of command, or my SBA liaison, or my legal counsel had another point of view.
  6. This is just political advice from experience on consolidation of contracts, not advice on interpretation of statutory language. Just good willed advice- escalate and get consensus to CYA.
  7. Well, my experience tells me otherwise, but good luck.
  8. SBA would very likely say it is indeed a consolidation of contracts, and imprecise language on the definition of government entities would not allow an exception. If your dollar value is high, escalate the issue for concurrence, and go back and look at the Final Rule and latest amendments for any information that would suggest this would be interpreted as a consolidation of contracts.
  9. Unless I'm missing something, I think Don answered your question by pointing you to the first bullet in the Memo on FSS Contracts. If you have an FSG that is excluded from TAA compliance, and the statutory requirements for country of origin defaults to BAA given the dollar threshold, then you would add DoD specific clauses to your GSA solicitation that states the BAA requirements. This will exclude schedule items that are not BAA compliant, or Berry Act compliant, or whatever it is you are procuring. I guess I'm not following the question. Do you have internal policy guidance that restricts you from issuing an RFQ against schedule for items if all of the items are subject to Buy American, rather than Trade Agreement? Is it permissible to go to GSA if only some of your FSGs are only subject to TAA?
  10. Definitely. All you have to understand is you cannot act with prejudice. If you understand what it means to act with prejudice, then it is very simple to understand when you are treating all offerors equally, and when you are discriminating between the merits of offerors fairly. For example, you have allowed oral presentations of a technical approach. All offerors receive the same instructions, and present before the same panel in the same location. They have been given an equal chance to present their technical approach. Offeror #1 begins with a description of their approach. You refer to the RFP and its stated requirements for an acceptable approach and ask the offeror to expound. He does, and the information meets the government's needs, so you allow a brief question and answer with the panel. Offeror #2 begins with a description of their approach. You refer to the RFP and its stated requirements for an acceptable approach and ask the offeror to expound. The offeror cannot respond, and it is clear without any further discussion the technical approach is unacceptable. There is no follow up Q&A with the panel. The offerors have been treated fairly, but not equally.
  11. Remember your Blanket Purchase Agreement includes only those labor hour categories that you've entered into an agreement with the government for performance of orders under the BPA. Those that you submitted for evaluation and were agreed to by the government are the only ones you can use to compete for an order under the BPA. If you only quoted higher-priced labor hour categories, then you are forced to bid fewer resources to complete a task that may have been more efficiently performed with lower-priced labor hour categories. You got your agreement by plugging in whatever labor hour rates you had into the hypothetical level of effort used for evaluation purposes. If the actual orders competed under the BPA are most efficiently completed by lower priced labor hour categories, you are forced to either discount your rates or restrict the number of people you quote at your agreed upon higher-priced labor hour rates to be competitive at the order level. It's either a lesson learned in quoting, or an opportunity to discuss the possibility of a bi-lateral modification, though if I were the CO, I would not entertain one contractor's predicament and the possibility of a bi-lateral mod unless I were extending the same opportunity to all BPA holders. You can always discount your GSA rate of your higher-priced people to be competitive, but of course, it would have been ideal had you submitted a Quote for both low and high labor hour categories, giving you flexibility when you compete at the Order level.
  12. It is permissible for you to bid on the order issued under the schedule BPA with a labor hour category that exceeds the requirements of the order unless prohibited in the BPA order solicitation. This forces you to discount those more experienced labor hour categories to be competitive, if this is a multiple award BPA and you are competing for the order. It sounds like the problem you have is that you don't have an agreement under the BPA for the lower-level staffing that would allow you to bid competitively for these types of orders. You may wish to discuss with the matter with the CO.
  13. You can only accept a Quote that is compliant with your solicitation. If your RFQ requested a product or service on the vendor's schedule contract, then if the vendor does not offer it on schedule you can not accept the Quote. The Quote is simply non-compliant. You go on to the next in line for selection. Did you address whether you reserved the right to communicate with respondents prior to making a selection in your RFQ? Depending on the answer to that question, then you may be able to clarify with the vendor offering "open market pricing" whether their product or service is awarded on the schedule contract from which you solicited quotes. If they say no, you just go on to the next in line for selection. If no other Quotes are acceptable according to the selection criteria in your RFQ, you can request that each vendor revise their Quote and explain why you are asking the vendor to do so. If the product or service is awarded on the vendor's schedule contract, then the question becomes, what does open market pricing mean? Does it mean I am offering you this at a price at or below what I am awarded on schedule, but I am quoting this as a non-schedule item? If that is the case, then I would suspect the vendor just didn't want to report the schedule sale, or comply with the terms and conditions that would bind them under their schedule contract. Does it mean my prices are higher than my prices on Schedule? If that is the case, then they lose, they are non-compliant. The prices quoted in response to a schedule solicitation just have to be awarded on schedule and at or below awarded schedule prices. The important issue here is you can't accept a Quote that deviates from your solicitation.
  14. No, not so shocking after you've been around. IGs aren't as independent as they could be. They still sit inside of these agencies, and serve a role in the agency's self-preservation. They can be encouraged to look the other way, (nothing to see here, move along), or to not mention certain details in their reports that might attract too much Congressional attention at an inopportune time. If this ended up in a prosecution, I will guess the IG did get involved at some point, but probably only after the right person asked for the investigation.
  15. I am also a GS-13, with 10 years of 1102 experience, FAC-C Level III certified, and have an unlimited warrant. My experience has been entirely different trying to move up and out and away from my agency. I have had no response to most positions that I've applied for, both within the government and in the private sector. The only job offers I've had are from contractors who place private contract specialists into federal agencies to support their 1102s. Most people agree those jobs are a step down unless you are retiring, and then taking them. I have several colleagues who report the very same experiences, and a lot of frustration with being unable to leave. I'm beginning to think two things might be causing me to have such a different experience. The first is that I am not DOD, but my agency is well-known, and not respected in some circles. I have had a few recruiters contact me, and lose interest when they find out I don't have a secret clearance or above. The second is that I am not in DC, and the job market is in DC. Even when I say I am willing to re-locate, the fact that I would have to re-locate seems to cause recruiters to lose interest.
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