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Vern Edwards

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Everything posted by Vern Edwards

  1. Is CERCLA ever considered A/E?

    The answer depends on the precise nature of the "environmental services." Go to FedBizOpps and search over the last 365 days using keyword CERCLA. You'll find many examples of solicitations for such services from various agencies. See, for example, U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region solicitation 1291S8-18-R-0001, dated 31 Jan 2018. The synopsis says: They are not handling it as A-E services. However, see Corps of Engineers solicitation W912DR18R0007, issued last November, in which they sought proposals for "environmental A-E services." I would trust the Corps on this. What qualifies your client to classify the services?
  2. Options that are not CLIN's??

    In short, you want to write options to increase the level of effort. You ask if such options would be "acceptable," by which I presume you are asking if they would be permissible. There is no rule in FAR against such options. So the answer to your question is yes, such options are permissible, unless your agency's policy prohibits their use.
  3. Sig Sauer Sidearm - Continued

    Yeah, next time, just buy Glock 17s. If they're good enough for NYPD... Maybe Glock 21s or 41s.
  4. Truth Decay

    My all-time favorite quote is from Alexander Solzhenitsyn's novel, Cancer Ward: "You can't know everything in the world. Whatever happens you'll die a fool." I find that reassuring.
  5. @VA1102 Here come some gross, unsubstantiated generalizations and opinions, based entirely on personal experiences and preferences. Some contracting offices buy sexy stuff, like fighter aircraft, ships, spacecraft, space exploration missions, deep sea exploration, etc. All contracting is drudgery to some extent (more so today than in my youth), but the work is more challenging and fun in agencies in which the program people you support are working on cool, exciting stuff and are mission-driven. Routine buying has a much higher drudgery factor. I'd rather die than work in an office that buys only commercial items. (That's just me.) If you're looking for a challenge and some fun, then when looking at agencies look at their missions and what kinds of program people you'll be supporting. That will tell you more about the work and about what kinds of places they will be to work in than looking at the contracting offices. The strongly mission-driven outfits are the best. Be thoughtful before going to work in agencies run by a professional class like doctors (e.g., NIH ) and lawyers (e.g., Justice). If you are not a doctor or a lawyer you will always be a second class citizen. But it's okay to work with physical scientists and engineers if you are a go-getter and problem-solver, because they hate bureaucracy and love people who can cut through it. I loved working with those folks, even though they sometimes drove me crazy when I had to work overtime to save their asses from themselves. I loved being the goto guy for finding a way. Sad to say, but when I walk through an office in which every cube has two computer monitors I get a little heartsick. It seems to me that contracting work is more data-entry driven today than mission-driven. I can feel my arteries harden when I walk around in those kinds of offices. I want to be able to go down a hall to the engineer's office with the spec for some new sensor, sit down and say: Okay, Jane, tell me what this does and how it works. And I want to do contracting, not policy. Finally, I would rather work for the military than for a civilian agency. Better focus and discipline. You argue like heck until the boss decides, and then you go. Hierarchy tends keeps things simple. But I went into the Army at a young age (17) and my experience there had a profound effect on me. I know that some people would rather not deal with the ranks and ceremonies. I love them. Enough old coot stuff. Maybe it's not that way anymore, and what I've said is probably of no help to you at all. Good luck.
  6. I'm going to give you the best advice that I possibly can: First, this is not a good forum for those kinds of questions. Second, your client should consult an attorney with knowledge of such matters in the context of government contracting. I can tell you that the Federal Acquisition Regulation, 48 CFR Ch. 1, does not address the matter of what an offeror should do if it is planning the sale of a subsidiary while it is preparing its offer.
  7. Why do you always answer a question with a question? I will show you the regulatory citation. But first, show me, by direct quotation, where I said that there is such a regulatory requirement. In what post did I make such an assertion? I want you to show me where I used the words "fund citation," "regulation" or "regulatory," and "required" in a sentence. By the way, I can also show you a regulation that exempts IDIQ contracts from the requirement to have a funds citation. But I won't until you show me where I said that a regulation required one. I believe that inclusion of a funds citation is proper practice, but I don't think it is required in all agencies. I believe that when awarding an IDIQ contract a CO must have funds to cover the minimum, even if the minimum is not ordered at the time of award. I believe that if a CO has funds he or she will have some kind of "funds citation" (really a DOD term--I don't all think all agencies use it). I believe that if a CO has a funds citation, then it should be recorded in the award document. That's why the contracting forms have a block for "accounting and appropriation data." And what's up with the "Sad"?
  8. But you aren't just any old contracting officer. Somebody else just gave me that kind of evidence in another thread! No good. Anecdotal from only one source. Really? I could defend it. But I'm glad to see you don't think it's a good practice. I don't think you are a liar. But if I had a nickel for every fairy tale I was told by some current practicing contracting officer I'd be much richer than I am. I hope the industry folks are getting a good laugh out of that. Anyway, you should be able to provide documentary evidence of that. I could, but I'm not going to help you. I just want to see if you can back yourself up or are just talking through your hat. Come on, Mr. Current Practicing Contracting Officer. Show us what you know.
  9. ji-- Where did that question come from? Red Herring! Who said anything about what a single contracting officer could do? Give me a break. Name one such agency and provide proof of your claim--a written policy or regulation like the DOD FMR--and provide support for that "it is common" assertion. I don't take your word for it. In any case, what sense does it make to leave the fund cite off the contract? Isn't the contracting officer going to have to an administrative commitment before awarding the contract in order to insure against an ADA violation? If the CO is going to have a commitment of funds, and if the comptroller is going to record the minimum as an obligation on the books, presumably from the commitment account, why not put the fund citation on the contract? What's the point of leaving it off? The mechanism by which the recording is done is not an issue, so you don't have to keep repeating the "administrative" and "manual" bit. The mechanism is irrelevant, whether it's through IT, by humans or monkeys, by pen or pencil, or using a stylus on a clay tablet, as long as it's done.
  10. Defense Small Business (Act)

    And you really think the U.S. Congress, the members of which have catered to small business interests for decades and will have to answer to them when they go on visits to their districts, is going to pass legislation that would allow that? Well, Pepe, I had no idea you like to write fantasy. You're the next Tolkien. Frodo lives!
  11. Defense Small Business (Act)

    Pepe: If I were the SecDef there is no way I would want that. Why would I? How would it help DOD? Let SBA do the paperwork. I would tell the president to veto the bill or accept my resignation.
  12. Not true that it doesn't work for IDIQ contracts. It doesn't work for systems programmers, because no one has explained to them what they must design their systems to do. What you are describing is agencies not using proper procedure, in part because their data processing systems were not designed to comply with the law, probably because no one understood the law. I awarded IDIQ contracts as a DOD CO starting in the 1970s. I never issued an order at the same time as the award. Every IDIQ contract I awarded bore a fund citation and the amount of the minimum. When we issued an order that bought the minimum we made appropriate annotations and adjustments for billing purposes and to prevent double recording. You could do that before ADP/IT systems locked people into deviant practice. Don't normalize deviancy. Teach the IT pukes to design compliant systems. And ji--what do you mean by "manually"? Pen and ink? Pencil? Keyboard? Adverbs again!
  13. According to the Red Book, Vol. 2, page 7-3, one of the definitions of "obligation" is: When a contracting officer signs a contract he or she creates such an obligation. When payment is to be made out of appropriated funds, we commonly say that the contracting officer has "obligated funds," although such obligations are sometimes made in the absence or in advance of funds, which is a violation of the Antideficiency Act. The GAO tells us that the law requires that a record be made of all such obligations. We call that "recording the obligation." The making of such a record begins when the contracting officer distributes a copy of the signed contract, which cites the account from which the funds are to be taken--a "fund citation"--to the comptroller. The comptroller then makes a record of the obligation on the agency's "books." Sometimes all or part of that process is completed automatically through an agency's contract writing system. See, e.g., DOD's Financial Management Regulation, Vol. 3, Ch. 8, 080302: See also 080304: I don't think it's necessary to say "administratively record," but I suppose it doesn't hurt anything to say it. It might confuse some people, who might ask about the significance of "administratively," and I wouldn't use the word for that reason (although I'd bet that I have at some time or another, for who knows what reason). IDIQs confuse people, because they get caught in agency administrative machinery. The obligation to buy the minimum is made when the contract is awarded, whether an order is issued at that time or not. But some agencies don't want to record an obligation until an order is issued. Go figure. See DOD FMR Vol. 3, Ch. 8, 080604: I find the last few entries in this thread interesting, because it shows how the casual and perhaps unnecessary use of a word can become a distraction. We're always being told to edit what we write to get rid of any unneeded words, and the tiff here over "administratively record" may show us why that's good advice.
  14. @ji20874 Interesting. I searched Westlaw's GAO Reports database, which includes reports issued from 1 January 1994 to the present, and the Comptroller General Decisions database for any use of "administratively record" and close variations thereof, and I did not find a single instance of such use. I did find "administratively reserve" and "administratively commit" a couple of times, but commit and reserve are not the same as obligate. I think in those cases "administratively" stands for temporarily or maybe informally. I also searched the annotated United States Code, the entire Code of Federal Regulations, and the DOD Financial Management Regulation, but did not find "administratively record." Are you using "administratively" as a synonym for "manually," in the sense of not done through data automation?
  15. I don't have a dog in this fight, but here's a thought: Why say "administratively recording"? Why not just say "recording"? The adverb doesn't add anything, does it? What's the difference between "administratively recording" and "recording"? If there is no difference, why use an unnecessary word? I couldn't find the word "administrative" or "administratively" used in connection with "record an obligation" or "recording" anywhere in the GAO Red Book. I couldn't find "administratively record" anywhere in the FAR System or the DOD FMR. Just a thought.
  16. Truth Decay

    Jon: To the media the story is the speaker, not the speech. The guy could have said nothing more than "The sky is blue somewhere on Earth" and the song would have remained the same. The assertion would have been discredited on the grounds of who was doing the talking. It's going to be that way for at least the next three years. I stopped paying attention to speeches a long time ago.
  17. Truth Decay

    One of the NYT reporters was Maggie Haberman, thus the "her". The other was Michael S. Schmidt. Note the interesting structure of the lead of their story: Emphasis added. Ya gotta love it. What does that have to do with what we have been discussing? I have no idea what then. To the best of my knowledge there is no algorithm that works in every such case. Punt.
  18. Those Pesky IDIQ Contracts Again

    In a recent thread in the Wifcon discussion forum, a member asked if a task order issued under an Indefinite-Delivery Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract can contain an option that permits extension of the order beyond the contract expiration date. Here is the question: At about the same time as that post, I received a telephone call from a former student asking virtually the same question. Those questions come after the decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals? decision in General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., ASBCA No. 54988, May 8, 2009, http://docs.law.gwu.edu/asbca/decision/pdf2009/54988.pdf. We work in a time in which people do not read the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the standard clauses in their contracts. The General Dynamics decision shows the latent potency of those clauses. So I thought it might be useful to review the standard terms of IDIQ contracts to see how we can answer the questions. In this piece, when I write ?task order? I?m including delivery orders. Key Terms of IDIQ Contracts FAR 16.504, which describes Indefinite-Delivery contracts, prescribes their content and establishes rules for their use. FAR 16.504(a)(4)(i) provides, without further explanation, that an IDIQ contract must: What is ?the period? of an IDIQ contract? In order to answer that question we must look first to the standard FAR clauses. FAR 16.506 prescribes two such clauses for use in IDIQ contracts: FAR 52.216-18, Ordering (OCT 1995) and FAR 52.216-22, Indefinite Quantity (OCT 1995). The Indefinite Quantity clause provides as follows: Note that paragraphs (a) and (d) of the Indefinite Quantity clause refer to a period within which the contract is ?effective,? and which I?ll call the effective period. The clause provides no space in which to insert the start and end dates of the effective period, but indicates that the dates are ?in the Schedule.? When using the Uniform Contract Format described in FAR 14.201-1 and 15.204-1, the Schedule includes contract sections A through H. Paragraph (d) of the Indefinite Quantity clause provides a space in which the contracting officer is supposed to insert the last date on which the government can require the contractor to perform or deliver, which I?ll call the last date of required performance. (See FAR 52.104(d) and (e) about making insertions in clauses.) Note three things about paragraph (d): first, it implies that the contracting officer can issue an order requiring performance or delivery after the expiration of the effective period; second, it says that if the order is not to be completed within the effective period the terms of the contract will be extended ?with respect to that order?; and third, it indicates that the last date of required performance can also be later than the expiration of the effective period. The Ordering clause provides as follows: Note that the Ordering clause provides for the establishment of a period within which the government may issue task orders, which I will call the ordering period. The government may not issue task orders after expiration of the ordering period. The contracting officer is supposed to specify the ordering period by inserting dates in the space provided in paragraph (a). (This clause was central to the ASBCA?s General Dynamics decision.) The Five Dates In An IDIQ Contract Let?s review: Based exclusively on the texts of the Indefinite Quantity clause and the Ordering clause, an IDIQ contract is supposed to contain the following five dates: 1. somewhere in the Schedule, the date on which the effective period begins; 2. also in the Schedule, the date on which the effective period ends; 3. in paragraph (d) of the Indefinite Quantity clause, in Section I, the last date of performance; 4. in paragraph (a) of the Ordering clause, in Section I, the date of which the ordering period begins; and 5. also in paragraph (a) of the Ordering clause, the date on which the ordering period ends. The contracting officer is supposed to insert the dates in the contract, but it is my impression that contracts are often awarded without the insertion of one or more of those sets of dates. In addition to the five dates listed above, there will be the dates associated with each task order, such as the period of performance of services or the delivery dates for supplies. If the contract contains the clause at FAR 52.217-9, Option to Extend the Term of the Contract (MAR 2000), then in addition to the above dates there will be the period within which the contracting officer may exercise each such option, the deadline for giving the contractor preliminary notice of the government?s intent to exercise the option, and the dates of the option period(s). The boards of contract appeals and the Court of Federal Claims strictly enforce dates associated with the power to exercise options, and they may treat the issuance of a task order as the exercise of an option in that regard. See the General Dynamics decision: Thus, the interplay among all of the dates discussed above might in some cases become problematical. The Effective Period And The Ordering Period: One And The Same? It is possible that the author(s) of the Indefinite Quantity clause and the Ordering clause meant for the effective period and the ordering period to be one and the same. But the Indefinite Quantity clause puts the effective period in the Schedule and the FAR clause matrix puts the Ordering clause in Section I of the Uniform Contract Format, which is not part of the Schedule. If we assume that the author(s) of the two clauses knew what they were doing and meant to put the effective period and the ordering period in different sections of the contract, it seems likely that they did not mean for them to be one and the same. Thus, the ordering period might start after the first date of the effective period and end before the expiration date of that period. The Mysterious ?Effective Period? What is the contractual significance of the effective period mentioned in the Indefinite Quantity clause? In what sense is an IDIQ contract ?effective?? What is the operative relationship between the effective period and the ordering period, between the effective period and the performance period or delivery date(s) of an order, and between the effective period and option-related dates? The answers to those questions are not immediately apparent to me. Presumably, the effective period is the time within which the rights and obligations of the parties are in effect. Do those rights and obligations expire with the effective period? For example, does the contractor?s obligation to take affirmative action in the employment of disabled workers end when the effective period expires? What about the contractor?s obligation to pay Service Contract Act wages or to comply with change orders? Are contract prices no longer in effect after expiration of the effective date? Remember that paragraph (d) of the Indefinite Quantity clause says: Emphasis added. However, the paragraph goes on to say: Thus, the contract terms and the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to a ?not completed? order do not expire with the effective period, but continue in effect until the order is completed, provided that completion is not later than the last date of performance. When is an order ?completed?? Does ?completed? refer to the contractor?s work or to something else? Is an order ?completed? when the contractor delivers or finishes the work, i.e., when the contractor?s performance is completed? The phrase ?shall be completed by the contractor? seems to suggest so. Or does ?completed? mean when the government has accepted performance, or when the government has made final payment? Does it mean ?physically completed,? as described in FAR 4.804-4 with reference to the closeout of contract files: Absent some express definition of when an order is ?completed,? the meaning will depend on a reading of the contract as a whole, including the order, so that no term is rendered meaningless and without effect, which means that it cannot be defined in any abstract sense. The Indefinite Quantity clause says that the terms of the contract continue to apply to uncompleted orders after expiration of the effective period, but what about orders completed within the effective period? Suppose that a fixed-price order requires the contractor to deliver supplies on a date prior to the expiration date of the effective period and that the contractor delivers accordingly. Suppose further that the government does not inspect the supplies before the expiration of the effective period. Finally, suppose that after expiration of the effective period the government discovers a patent defect in the delivered supplies. If the order was ?completed? upon the delivery of the supplies and the contract effective date has expired, can the government still invoke the terms of the fixed-price inspection clause, FAR 52.246-2, Inspection of Supplies⎯Fixed-Price (AUG 1996), and demand that the contractor correct the defects at no additional cost? What if the contractor has completed an order and is still performing under another order when the effective period expires? Does the fact that one order remains uncompleted mean that the terms of the contract continue in effect with respect to ?completed? orders? The Indefinite Quantity clause says that the terms of the contract remain in effect ?with respect to that order,? not all orders. Of course, these questions are of less concern when a clause expressly provides for the survival of rights and obligations after completion or final payment, such as in the clause at FAR 52.215-2, Audit and Records (JUN 1999), or a warranty clause. Note in that regard that the inspection clause for cost-reimbursement contracts requires the contractor to take corrective action for up to six months ?after acceptance.? There are likely many other such possibilities as to the contractual significance of the effective period of an IDIQ contract. I have not tried to think them through and I have done no legal research, so I encourage readers of this blog to speculate or inform the rest of us of anything they may know or learn in that regard. In any case, contracting officers should be thoughtful when establishing the myriad dates in an IDIQ contract and be especially thoughtful about the potential effect of the effective date. It might be wise to ensure that timely administrative action is taken with respect to orders completed prior to the expiration of the contract effective period. It might not hurt to write special clauses to state the significance of the effective period and to define order ?completion? for purposes of the Indefinite Quantity clause. One way to cope with the effective period problem would be to write a clause like the following and put it in Section H: The effective period of this contract begins on the date of contract award and ends on the date following the date of final payment under this contract. Options In IDIQ Contracts The government may put options in IDIQ contracts to extend the effective period, the ordering period, and the last day of required performance. Note, however, that the standard clause at FAR 52.217-9, Option to Extend the Term of the Contract (MAR 2000), makes no express mention of ?effective period,? ?ordering period,? or last date of required performance. Thus, contracting officers should modify the clause when using it in an IDIQ contract to make express mention of those dates. (The preface to the standard option clause permits the use of a clause that is ?substantially the same.? See FAR 52.104 (a) through ? about modifying clauses.) Presumably, when establishing option line items, the contracting officer will want to stipulate the new effective period, new ordering period, and new last date of required performance associated with each option. If an order is valued at less than $10,000,000 at the time of issuance, but an option in the order would increase the cumulative value of the order to in excess of $10,000,000, would the GAO consider a protest against the award of the order under FAR 16.505(a)(9)(i)(, which does not say ?including options?? Probably. Keep in mind that FAR 1.108? says that options are to be included when applying dollar thresholds. Again, I know of no case law that directly answers the question. Options in Task Orders What about options in task orders? I know of no rule in FAR that prohibits the use of options is task orders. Presumably, the policies in FAR Subpart 17.2 apply to such options. Agencies may have policies of their own, as well. See, e.g., GSA?s policy with respect to Federal Supply Schedule contracts: There are questions about the use of options in task orders: 1. Can you put an option in a task order that is to be exercised before the expiration of the effective period and that would extend performance beyond that period? 2. If so, can such an option require performance after the last day of required performance stipulated in paragraph (d) of the Indefinite Quantity clause? 3. Can you put an option in a task order that can be exercised after the expiration of the effective period? 4. If so, can the option require performance after the last date of required performance? The answer to the first question appears to be yes, since the Indefinite Quantity clause makes express provision for orders that require performance after the expiration of the effective period. The answer to the second question should be yes if the option is written so as to extend the last date of required performance for the purposes of the order in question. Otherwise, there might be an issue. An agency should state its intent to use such options in the solicitation for the contract, and the contract should make express provision for the issuance of orders that include such options, otherwise, the use of such an option might be an expansion of the scope of the contract and subject to protest. The answer to the third question is problematical. It would be best to extend the contract effective period prior to exercising such an option in a task order, just to avoid any issues about the viability of the option. Since extension of the effective period would expand the scope of the contract, the intention to do so in connection with such task order options should be stated in the solicitation for the contract and provided for in the contract. The answer to the fourth question is also problematical. There might be an issue, unless the task order option expressly requires the contractor to work after the last date of required performance, thereby effectively extending that date for the task order in question. The contract should make provision for extension of the last date of contract performance in connection with such task order options. What happens if the contracting officer issues an order containing an option that would permit its extension beyond the effective date or the last date of required performance? Can the contractor object and refuse to accept such an order? I think the contractor would have grounds to object and reject if, at the time of award, the contract did not expressly permit the issuance of such an order, such that the contractor was not or could not have been aware that it could happen. If the contractor did not object when the order was issued, can it later object to the exercise of the option? Again, I think so, if the contract or the order did not expressly permit such an extension, such that the contractor was not and could not have been aware. It seems likely that a court would require the contractor to perform if it knowingly accepts the order without objection. What if, at the time of award, the contract did not expressly permit the issuance of such an order, but the contractor is willing to accept it? Would that make it okay? Probably not, because the exercise of such an option would enlarge the scope of the contract by effectively extending the effective period and the last date of contract performance, thus opening the way to a protest. Would it be okay to add such an option to a task order after its issuance? Again, doing so would enlarge the scope of the contract and open the way to a protest. Is exercising an option to extend a task order tantamount to issuing a new order? I don?t know, but I think it is possible that a court, a board of contract appeals, or the Government Accountability Office (GAO) might consider it so. If so, can a contracting officer exercise such an option after the expiration of the ordering period or the last day of required performance? I think it?s possible that a court a board or the GAO would say no. I am aware of no case law that directly answers those questions. Coordinate Those Dates! Contracting officers should carefully coordinate all contract dates and task order dates in order to avoid potential conflicts and disputes. If a contracting officer wants to use options in task orders to permit their extension, then he or she should include options in the basic contract to extend the contract effective period and to change the last date of required performance. If such options are not included in the contract at the time of award, later changes in those dates will be outside the scope of the contract and open to protest. Anyone who thinks that these matters are mere technicalities had better read the ASBCA?s General Dynamics decision, cited above. The board rejected that notion. I have not attempted to make a detailed or comprehensive, much less exhaustive, analysis of these questions. My objective here is to raise questions that smart people will consider when writing IDIQ contracts and task orders. Just a little word to the wise.
  19. FAR Part 15 Procurement - Weighted Evaluation Factors

    Yipes, I had no idea it was full. Okay, thecontractingguy, try again.
  20. FAR Part 15 Procurement - Weighted Evaluation Factors

    I don't know why you're blocked. Other people send me messages through Wifcon. Check with the webmaster.
  21. You cannot legally obligate the government to buy a minimum in advance of the availability of funds to cover the obligation. That's Antideficiency Act 101. See https://www.gao.gov/legal/anti-deficiency-act/about Emphasis added. The award of an IDIQ contract that requires the purchase of a minimum amount of supplies or services obligates the government, unless the award is conditioned upon the availability of funds.
  22. Truth Decay

    In the NYT case I mentioned, the sources were four anonymous persons repeating second hand (maybe) knowledge. The Times wasn't reporting knowledge. It was reporting gossip. It reported gossip about something of no consequence in order to rally the "resistance."
  23. Truth Decay

    What if a person's life or a country's well-being depended on it? Do you still think you shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good? And you're another false dichotomizer. Why make the choice between perfect reporting and merely "good" reporting (whatever that is)? Why not silence instead of possibly false reporting?
  24. Truth Decay

    @Matthew Fleharty I think you should reread my comments. I was asked by FrankJon: My response was: There is a difference between (1) taking note of a story the truth of which you admit you do not know and (2) being outraged by it and taking to the barricades or (3) utterly rejecting it. My comments were not about what kinds of sources are more credible. What did you mean when you said: What does "take" mean? Believe? "Take" on faith? Why? Why believe anyone who reports what you cannot know to be true on the basis of the evidence provided? What does "know" mean? Do you know the reporter? Her editors? Have you met her? Laid eyes on her? In what way do you "know" that devil? Why believe, learn you were deceived, then feel better when you're told the author of the false report was disciplined? Why not, upon reading a "report," just shrug and say, "Interesting, but what do I know," then wait to see what develops? Big media journalism is a business. Want to learn something about journalism? Read the greatest book about journalism ever written: The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm.