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Fear & Loathing in Contracting

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Everything posted by Fear & Loathing in Contracting

  1. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Change Order Negotiation

    Mr. Edwards is 100% correct. Just because the KO tries this and may have gotten away with it does not mean it has to happen to you... I am curious about the lawyer part though. I am a KO with DoD and if we ever need a gov lawyer present we always insist the contractor does as well. This seems very strange to me.
  2. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    What academic research related to contracts would be helpful?

    What school are you enrolled in for your PhD? Do they have active departments in economics, business and/or IT? I would think it would be both interesting and fruitful for the acquisition community as well as others to explore a topic that spans them. Maybe cross-walking between IT development best practices and the distinction with contracting processes. Another could be how the IT companies with the best business track records often do not work with the government much if at all due to our antiquated systems and maybe attempt some economic waste quantification's?
  3. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Centralized vs. Embedded Contracting

    NOT embedded and for one major reason: maintaining independence. There is too much potential risk for customer pressure in an embedded environment. The customer might be delighted until everyone gets in trouble! Unfortunately, I have found that the happier my customer is with contracting- the more worried I should be... Comparing to centralized is not an apples to apples comparison. While I do feel for the multiple reasons mentioned above that having a critical mass of contracting folks together is highly beneficial- this does not mean that the entire effort needs to be in one spot. If you have enough folks (several 100) that should suffice. Now distance issues can be a problem. The ideal would be an independent office near the customer. This way one can closely interact when necessary, but allows for contracting to have its needed arms length space.
  4. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Would you do it all over again?

    Hi Red138- compared to most other fields I consider gov contracting pretty stable. I was 12 years on the private side and while it could be very exciting- it was volatile, totally money driven, and I left a very good spot to come to the Feds. If you wait long enough attrition will occur as it always does. One thing that is tough when you are so young though is gaining perspective. This is pretty hard to obtain without moving around a bit. At this early point in you career I would suggest being as mobile as you are able/comfortable while avoiding getting locked down. In my opinion, locking down on a career at 26 is akin to getting married at 16! One great thing about being an 1102- there is lots of mobility within the Government besides the parallel private industry spots. This is not the case with the bulk of Government job series. I think back to my father who spent 40 plus years in DOD working as a nuclear engineer and had very limited options. If you are in a civilian agency maybe consider spending time in a DOD agency. GSA can also be a good place to spend some time. Everyone uses 1102's. If you consider hopping off to the private sector for a while, maybe forever (how can you be sure) then the one thing I would suggest is to obtain you level 3 certs first in case you want to come back to the Feds. Much easier. Good luck! One last thing- everyone's burnt out nearly everywhere. I was when in private sector, I am again now at DOD, everyone in my family is, the folks working around me are....hope to God not but might be the new normal..
  5. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Court of Federal Claims vs. GAO - Amazon vs. IBM

    When I read your post, the following quote immediately came to mind: "I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." by Robert McCloskey, State Department
  6. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Would you do it all over again?

    This is a GREAT way to describe contract in terms of "best value." One of my first mentors/trainers has been in contracting for many years and had been fortunate to witness this interesting evolution.
  7. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Anyone familiar with Alpha Contracting?

    Anything that is a point of lack of understanding for the contractor should preferably be resolved with via Alpha Discussions. Also- I have found that separating out certain issues and resolving through traditional means can also help.
  8. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Anyone familiar with Alpha Contracting?

    DCAA being prohibited from IPT participation and thus Alpha was not an issue in my last Alpha.
  9. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Can A Proposal Be Excluded Based Solely on Price?

    Unfortunately, you are absolutely correct regarding the folks in contracting. Also- SSP and RFP evaluation criteria should and must be the same. Besides a mismatch creating a solid basis for a potential protest, it is an essential best practice for contracting (that often exist to avoid a protest).
  10. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Can A Proposal Be Excluded Based Solely on Price?

    Anyone that does not know enough to crosswalk the SSP into UCF Sections L & M of the RFP should get out of contracting...
  11. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Can A Proposal Be Excluded Based Solely on Price?

    Sure. The source selection plan could have a mult-tiered evaluation process. The first tier could be price. If too high, an offeror would not make it to the next stage .... of course as stated prior- SHOULD one do this? Personally, I would not. Discussions can change everything.
  12. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Will you take a pledge?

    Making people take a pledge? Seems kind of silly and if attempted across the board will just be treated as a joke. A better approach might be establishing process improvement as a divisional project spread across teams within the branches. Every quarter several teams could present their findings to the rest of the branch.
  13. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Anyone familiar with Alpha Contracting?

    Thanks for the insight here_2_help. You are very correct that things are inherently more adversarial. The result has been continuous process refinement. An example is determining fee. Since this is something adversarial in any environment, it naturally has become more so as was evidenced in my last Alpha. Moving forward into other Alpha's, we will most likely carve out and contain this step; and resolve through traditional negotiation. DCAA was obvioulsy not in the process, but DCMA played a key role in locking down rates and essentially slicing that out of the discussions. Primary focus was then on technical, the PWS, and related BOE's. Personally, I do not feel Alpha is good or bad. It is just a tool than can make sense depending on the nature of the requirement.
  14. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Negotiate GSA Pricing

    You would start by doing some homework. Not sure what you are buying, but checking a schedule holders "pre-negotiated" pricing up against the marketplace can often yield some very interesting results. Are you buying a high volume of something? This can be used to obtain a discount. As you can see, digging into the pricing and communicating such to a schedule holder for the purposes of obtaining a discount really is negotiation on the price aspect of what you are buying.
  15. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    General question

    The more detailed responses above are great, but I would also suggest taking a step back and think about the core fundamentals. A good place to start is with the definitions in FAR Subpart 2.1. “Option” means a unilateral right in a contract by which, for a specified time, the Government may elect to purchase additional supplies or services called for by the contract, or may elect to extend the term of the contract. Key part for you: "...right in a contract..." Thus: an option by definition is a subset of an existing contract.
  16. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Rotate contracting officers between government, private sector

    Redleg makes a great point and one I missed in my previous response: motive. Makes a huge difference and the core reason why I switched to Government. After eventually achieving my goal of becoming the lead contract capture manager for a Gov contracting firm, I found myself increasingly disatisfied with my career. Eventually, I read a career personality assessment book and discovered my dominant motivator was public service. Took a substantial salary cut and 2 steps back on the "career ladder" but I am much more satisfied in my current role as a Gov KO. Know thyself!
  17. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Accounting for Geographic Location of Offeror in Price Evaluation

    Looks like you already got some great answers. While not trying to state to obvious (and it cannot be that obvious since it never gets done enough), just make sure to document everything and support it all with solid rationale- all to be placed in the solicitation/contract folder. This is especially true for something atypical such as this. While not everyone might agree with how you eventually end up considering for these particular costs, if you have sound rationale and it is adequately documented, you should be pretty solid.
  18. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Follow-On Contract

    Glad you got your answer. Thought I would throw in my 2 cents since I work on Major Weapon Systems and follow-on contracts. Vern Edwards nailed the explanation of follow-on in post #3 as well as the true path forward in post #8. I swear the problem with many of these things is how they are named. At face value, the term "follow-on" really just means "what we are doing next." With a major weapon system, the last living stage is typically sustainment and would fall under the dictionary definition of follow-on, but is generally not the type of work to be done as a "contracting world" follow-on. A better term might be a "Intregral Completion" contract. I like throwing "completion" in there to focus everyone on the radical concept of potentially competing the work (or aspects of it) once some critical milestone has been met (such as MS-C on a MWS). If we REALLY want to confuse everyone- maybe start calling it a non-severable completion contract... with of course THIS use of the term non-severable being independent of that associated with funding...
  19. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    What are you listening to?

    My environment can be pretty loud as well. When I really need to concentrate: Mozart or just simple white noise on the head phones. Otherwise it's Blue Grass or Southern Fried Rock.
  20. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Resume contract performance after shutdown...

    It looks like the essence of this all (stated by ji20874, Joel Hoffman, etc..) is that many contracting situations (and this is one of them) are complex, situation dependent, and chock full of grey areas. Whenever I get wind of blanket actions/directions pertaining to the deeply qualitative scenarios associated with my area of work (DoD Major Weapon Systems) my knee jerk reaction is to: (1) cringe; & (2) look for the litany of unintended complications that may/will arise. Often times, it turns out to be fairly manageable, but my point is: as a KO one cannot just auto-react. You really need to think about everything and if needed/available- talk to other KO's, supervisors, etc., especially when the stakes are high such as they have been as of late.
  21. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Question for the Grizzled CO vets

    One quick clarification- not my intent to disparage all policy jobs as "dead end." Considering that I spent some time in policy, it is not obviously not dead end. My overall point though I believe still holds: the threat of losing your warrant is a considerable deterrent and usually sufficient. The inability to obtain a warrant in the 1102 job series precludes one from many opportunities. What remains is policy, procurement analysis, cost & pricing, etc..
  22. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Question for the Grizzled CO vets

    KO's serve as a check and balance to requiring activities. I believe we are a "Government Partner" but not really a "Business Partner." Our job is not to keep the customer happy at all cost and give them what they want. Our job is to ensure they do things properly and get what they need. Sounds trite, is often espoused, but it really is the truth. It also can be pretty darn challenging when you know you are doing the right thing that will in the end be best for everyone while everyone is mad at you. Jail? Only times I have seen this is for highly egregious behavior, always uniformed, always OCONUS, and nearly always for incredibly blatant and stupid stuff. Costing you? That is a more distinct possibility- but again- very rare. I would think for most KO's- the threat of a career killing warrant yank leading to a dead end policy job is a sufficient deterrent- and this DOES happen hence why a true deterrent.
  23. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Rotate contracting officers between government, private sector

    Overall- I feel the more rotation the better. Before looking to do outside the Gov though, it needs to happen inside first. Despite what is being espoused- not really happening though. Not just talking about inside Gov contracting (although should be the priority). Should also occur with different customer organizations. I have actually moved (not rotated but took a job) quite a bit- private and public- but I sure hit a lot of resistance at times. Ironincally, I had no issues between public and private. It was all within the Gov. The immediate folks you work never want to let you go (worse problem though if the opposite I guess..). If you have the constitution and persistence- it can be invaluable. Takes some nerve though. Gov folks are very security oriented and while they might be OK rotating- actually leaving the Government and 100% entering the private side, and then eventually repeating in reverse- can be daunting. One hugely valuable result for me is that I can very quickly get inside the heads of the contractor negotiators as I served in their role for many years. Not sure a simple rotation would have gotten me to that level though. This is where the crux problem lies though= considerable time is required to truly understand the private side but the longer you are there... the greater potential for conflict of interest and "going native." I avoided conflicts of interest by always laying everything out on the table and never working anywhere I had a prior hand in. You follow your skills rather then your organizational contacts.
  24. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    Evaluating Contract Specialist Performance

    This is very tough to address in a short posting. In essence, you always want to try and achieve a balance between objective metrics and any qualitative factors impacting them. One starts with the 1st in order to create baselines: (1) consistent measurements across your staff; & (2) as starting points for each individual's level of performance. Then adjust based upon qualitative factors. Example: are PALT issues due to slow 1102 performance, challenging customers, outside circumstances, etc.
  25. Fear & Loathing in Contracting

    KO Warrant Limitations

    I understand it to be per action or per function (such as for closeout or funding de-obligation). Just be careful. Even though it is a limited warrant, it is still a warrant. I say this while watching them proprogate amongst the less experienced and ambitious 1102's working around me. Once you have the ability to sign for the Government, your CLM risk is high whether it is $5 million or $50 million. It is always a concern of mine that trade-off risk may be in play with the issuance of these limited warrants: a reduction in upper management work process pressure against an increase in career risk for newer folks in the field. Keep in mind: it may sound counter-intuitive, but I feel there is more risk with lower dollar awards. Reason: less reviews.