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Everything posted by VA1102

  1. Based on your situation, I'd say developmental or internship programs are the way to get into the contracting arena. Once you're in, if you're of at least average intelligence, have a good work ethic, and decent communication skills, you will advance and have opportunities. And of course, if you're willing to move to promote, you'll likely promote faster.
  2. I'm actually curious about changing opinions of VA contracting. I've been with the agency seven years, and the contracting competencies across the enterprise are considerably better than when I arrived. It's not uniform of course, but overall, I think it's definitely trending upwards. However, your comment is something that always worries me when I consider other job opportunities outside the agency, and particularly within the DOD. How pervasive is the "VA stigma," and has it changed at all in recent years? Does my perception of VA contracting improving match what other acquisition folks perceive from outside the agency?
  3. I had wondered about that. I have held a FAC-C III for some time, and received both my FAC-C II and III certifications before the most recent FAC-C refresh that aligned with current DAWIA requirements. I was wondering if my FAC-C III would somehow transfer to an equivalent DAWIA III certification, as I meet all of the other requirements, or if I'd be looking at doing a substantive amount of remedial DAU coursework. It sounds like the latter. Thanks for the input.
  4. Thanks for sharing all of that, Desparado. The last paragraph (quoted) made me think quite a bit. I think one of the challenges at VHA is that we're organized into product line teams, and that moving to other teams to become well versed in different areas of contracting (services, commodities, construction, etc.) can be a big challenge. I've been in the commercial services arena for about seven years, and am ready for something new. Perhaps moving to a different product line such as construction, might be a valuable and career enhancing alternative to leaving the agency. We sure do take a beating working for the VA, but it is a great mission.
  5. I have worked at a non-DoD civilian agency (VA) for several years, and have heard from more than one SES director that if I want to advance to senior GS or SES positions within the agency, I should leave the VA, get experience in another agency, and then come back to VA. I was a bit surprised at these comments, as these were both SES members in leadership positions within the agency, and yet they were recommending that I leave to get outside experience. A few years have passed since those conversations, and I am now at a grade level that might be more difficult to change agencies, and particularly going from a non-DoD agency to a DoD component. I am now contemplating a downgrade to get into a DoD agency in my area. My grade would change, but my pay would stay roughly the same, if stepped out. I'm sure I can't be the only person who has contemplated such a move. I am curious about the experience of career GS-1102s on this forum who have gone from a civilian agency to a DOD contracting activity or vice versa. Was the experience career enhancing? Did it offer you additional skills (non-commercial items, different contract types, etc.)? Would you recommend it? Thanks in advance for sharing your experience.
  6. This particular scenario involved physicians providing services on site at the VA. The physicians were from an affiliated medical institution (i.e. a university). The physician wasn't needed for the full 2,080 hours and thus wasn't scheduled for the full 40 hours per week. The affected physicians then provided services the university instead.
  7. Good Morning Joel, The requirement was to provide 2,080 hours of physician services. The reason that the full 2,080 hours weren't provided was that the patient workload was not as high as we initially anticipated.
  8. Good Morning WIFCON Community, Scenario: I have a question regarding contractual authority on a FFP commercial services contract. This contract is for physician services paid at an hourly rate. The contract states that the annual quantity is 2,080 hours. We are at the end of the base period of performance, and the government only used 1,980 hours. I now need to modify the contract and de-obligate the excess funds. What authority do I have to modify the contract and de-obligate the excess funds? My Thoughts: I have only two options for modifying the contract to de-obligate the excess funds. The first option is a bi-lateral modification (supplemental agreement) under the authority of 52.212-4©. The second option is a partial termination for convenience under the authority of 52.212-4(l). Other than utilizing one of these two options, I don't see any other authority I have to modify this contract and de-obligate the excess funds. I have always treated these modifications as bi-lateral, as I don't think that the de-obligation of excess funds is an administrative action. In my opinion, changing the amount of hours and associated value of the contract explicitly changes the terms of the contract. Therefore, the only unilateral modification authority I would have to take such an action would be termination for convenience. Other Opinions: I have some folks suggesting that the de-obligation of funds is only an "administrative modification" or a "funding only modification," and that it can be done unilaterally - especially since that particular performance period is now over. Are there any additional authorities I might have to modify a FFP commercial services contract other than those I've outlined above? Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide. -VA1102
  9. Looks like Vern and Don have already answered the question in a comprehensive manner. I'll just add that as a CO, I've always listed a Q&A contact, method of question submission, a date questions are due, and a date that answers will be posted/provided. I've never had a problem with it or been challenged by our legal counsel. I suspect your counsel is being overly conservative.
  10. Currently reading: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. The Government has a requirement for physician services. It has been determined that GSA Schedule 621 I has small and large schedule holders capable of meeting the Government's requirement. To the meet the agency's small business goals, the Contracting Officer intends to set aside the acquisition for small business concerns. The estimated value of this acquisition is $300,000. The Contracting Officer is now being challenged on the set aside. Those opposed to the set aside have stated that physicians being provided by the GSA staffing firms (found on schedule 621 I) are 1099 independent contractors, and are in effect, subcontractors. As such, there is no way that the small business schedule holders could comply with the "at least 50 percent of the cost of contract performance incurred for personnel" requirement of 52.219-14 Limitations on Subcontracting. Therefore, a total small business set aside is improper; the requirement must be solicited on an unrestricted basis. The Contracting Officer contends that it is standard practice in the medical staffing industry for physicians to be 1099 employees. However, that does not automatically make them subcontractors for purposes of determining compliance with 52.219-14. Taking into account the totality of information (See 13 CFR 121.106 a)), the physician should still be considered an employee of the concern. The concern dictates where the physician reports, when and how long he or she works, and what responsibilities they will have while working. Therefore, the physicians should not be considered subcontractors for the purpose of determining compliance with 52.219-14. Thoughts?
  12. I'd be interested in seeing the Instructions to Offerors (52.212-1) in the solicitation. The solicitation language included in the excerpt from 52.212-2 appears to me to be somewhat ambiguous; is it "price" or "price and other factors?" Also, the fact that a technical proposal has to be submitted, makes me wonder how they're going to evaluate the proposal and use that in any award decision. I'd recommend that next time, you submit a question in writing to the Contract Specialist/Contracting Officer to clarify the basis for award. Good luck on the proposal, and let us know how it turns out.
  13. Well, I'll share some of my thoughts: People do move between DOD and the civilian agencies. I do not believe that one is necessarily better than the other. I've seen strong (and weak) 1102s on both sides. In my opinion, the most valued asset you can possess is broad experience. You can acquire that at both DOD and non-DOD activities. If there are any barriers to entry or re-entry (into DOD), I think that would revolve around the DAWIA requirements (i.e. some jobs require DAWIA to even apply). But I can tell you that I've interviewed for DOD jobs without a DAWIA certification and it didn't appear to be an issue. I've heard some great things about DOE. If you're utilizing FP and CR contract types, working in FAR Part 15, doing source selections, et cetera, you are building both your resume and experience needed to be competitive for both non-DOD and DOD jobs. If the job is interesting, you believe in the mission of the organization, and it will build your skills as an 1102, then go for it. I'll echo what Civ_1102 said about your confidence. Work on it. When I'm interviewing an 1102 for a job, I want to hear confidence (but not arrogance) in his or her voice. If they don't believe in their capabilities to learn and do the job they're interviewing for, I won't believe in them either. I don't expect them to know everything, but I do expect them to know what they're capable of. Good luck with the job!
  14. From what I can tell in the OP, the government ordered the items and the contractor delivered; the contractor is entitled to payment. However, since the obligation was made by an unauthorized individual and not the contracting officer, a ratification will have to be completed to authorize the payment. Now, should the government refuse payment, I could see grounds for a claim by the contractor.
  15. The question I would have is this: Did the contractor deliver the excess food on its own, or at the request of a government worker/manager at each location? Your original post indicates that it was the latter. If that is the case, then what you have is an unauthorized commitment. A government representative who lacked authority to obligate the government, knowingly ordered and accepted goods (food) in excess of what the contract stipulated. Time to process a ratification. And then get with the VISN-level manager (the CLO?) to get this process under control.
  16. So long as the prospective offeror is only providing the unique characteristics of the commodity/service the government wants it to supply ( e.g. proprietary features, unique capabilities, etc.), I don't think there is a problem. However, the program office must take care not to let the contractor define the government's requirement. As the CO, I would want to know that the program office defined the agency's need based on its own analysis, and not on what the prospective offeror told the agency its need was (or should be).
  17. Question 1: Please explain the contracting process in detail, from cradle-to-grave. Reason: In my opinion, this will indicate whether the candidate actually understands the acquisition lifecycle. Also, depending the level of detail that he or she provides in the response, it should give you some insight as to how involved they've been during the different phases. Question 2: Please provide an example of how and when you used the source selection process. If you have not used the source selection process, please explain it in detail. Reason: An 1102 at the 11/12 grade levels should have at least participated in a few source selections (as the Contract Specialist or the Contracting Officer), and should have a solid understanding of LPTA vs. trade-off methodology. This question will indicate the depth of knowledge that the candidate has in this arena. Question 3: What part(s) of th FAR govern contract administration? Provide three important functions of contract administration. Reason: Contract administration is an important, and often overlooked phase of the acquisition lifecycle. A candidate should have a thorough understanding of what FAR Parts impact contract administration, as well as why it's important.
  18. A somewhat lively discussion recently took place in the contracting office. Here is what happened: The agency was operating in a sole source environment with a contractor (as authorized by statute). The agency had a contract for commercial services that was terminating at the end of the month. The agency issued an RFP to the contractor for an additional six months of services. At month’s end, the contractor (and now the offeror) submitted its proposal to the agency. The offer contained proposed changes to the RFP's terms. Discussions were held with the offeror, and revised terms were agreed upon. However, there was no time for the offeror to submit a final proposal revision, and the Contracting Officer could not sign the original offer (due to the proposed changes in terms that were unacceptable to the government). The Contracting Officer then issued a unilateral purchase order to the offeror, in the amount of $450,000.00. This purchase order incorporated the previously agreed upon changes in terms. The Contracting Officer’s decision came under fire immediately, and he was told that he could not simply send out a unilateral purchase order; he had to send out an unsigned contract (forgive the oxymoron), and allow the offeror to sign first. The Contracting Officer countered, stating that regardless of the issuance of the prior sole source RFP and any discussions held with the offeror, he was not prohibited from issuing a unilateral purchase order. He acknowledged that the incumbent contractor was free to reject the purchase order (i.e. the government’s offer to buy future services), but reasserted that there was no prohibition on the issuance of the order. He further stated that performance by the contractor (at the start of the next month) would constitute acceptance, and that a bi-laterally signed SF1449 was desirable, but not required to form a contract. Was this Contracting Officer in the wrong?
  19. We routinely employ lengthy FAR Part 15 RFPs for the acquisition of sole source commercial services contracts at the VA. We even issue solicitation due date extensions (via formal solicitation amendments), if the offeror (who is an incumbent contractor) fails to provide a complete proposal by the initial due date.
  20. Motorcity, I've thought about this lately as well. I too, have been in the field for about four years, and am in the same age bracket as yourself. This question has come up in my office as well, although usually one-on-one or in groups of a few folks. The frustration is fairly widespread. Seems the consensus is that advancement opportunity is good, and potentially getting better with the retirement of so many baby boomers, but that seems to be where the optimism ends. I suppose the bigger question is do you like what you're doing? After four years, you should have some idea of whether you like the field or not. If the answer is yes, than I suggest you find out what your co-workers don't like, and see if another agency or 1102 position might be a better place to move towards (e.g. systems PCO, cost/price analyst, etc.). As for me, I am undecided about long term prospects in contracting. I'm considering the private sector, or possibly a change in occupational series (i.e. out of the 1102 job series). I do like contracting, but find the work to be stressful and unrewarding more often than not. I'll be interested to hear what other 1102s have to say about this.
  21. If the buyer is posting the solicitations as small business set-asides and is using brand name specifications (for a large business' product), I have to assume that there are small business distributors of that product. Do you see any notices of award? Are they to the same awardee or different awardees? I also second Linda K's question about whether the non-manufacture waiver may be applicable here. If it is applicable, than your options would seem to be to: 1. Contact the buyer(s) directly and inform them of your capabilities (attempting to disuade them from using the brand name justification). 2. Protest their usage of brand name specifications (as Vern mentioned). 3. Reach out to the SBA and see if they can intercede on your behalf, or reconsider the waiver (assuming it's a class waiver).
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