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Fear & Loathing in Contracting

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  1. 1. What is your all time favorite book? Chesapeake 2. What is your all time favorite song or album? Magical Mystery Tour 3. What is your all time favorite movie? Blade Runner 4. Who is your favorite poet? Robert Frost
  2. Incredibly challenging for all the reasons stated. I am wondering if a collection of real life scenario's/ war stories might be helpful, but this would be more of a concept training approach, does not meet your needs, and of course gets hit with most of the same challenges...
  3. I was wondering what folks experiences were on moving over to the customer side of the shop. More specifically, is anyone familiar with DoD's Acquisition Fellowship program?
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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..
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. Anyone that does not know enough to crosswalk the SSP into UCF Sections L & M of the RFP should get out of contracting...
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. I am pretty involved with several Alpha Contracting efforts here at Department of Army. Anyone else out there ever involved in Alpha Contracting? Thoughts? Observations? Good experiences? Bad Experiences? Would love to have anyone's 2 cents on the topic.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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!
  20. 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.
  21. 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...
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