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Motorcity

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Everything posted by Motorcity

  1. GSA OASIS REVIEWS

    I've used it a few times. One challenge is that you have to go through training in order to receive the Delegation of Procurement Authority (DPA) from the OASIS team. One other aspect is that you can issue direct awards on OASIS. The OASIS Ordering Guide states that the OASIS SB contract also authorizes the OASIS OCO to choose to issue a direct award to a HUBZone, SDVOSB, or 8(a) contract holder, as authorized by statute (see FAR 16.500(b) and 6.302-5(b)). Please follow specific FAR and Agency guidance in making direct awards.
  2. Jamaal, does your agency have research services or information professionals (librarians) that can be consulted? Usually, if I need something researched, i just email our internal library and they can usually find what I need. I know our library has several law librarians, so they are well-versed. I agree with Vern I that a person will have a great deal of difficult using rather complicated search tools and databases without proper training.
  3. CPARS as well. Seems like a large amount of my time is spent on reporting and administrative duties that take up a great deal of valuable time. What was the real reason for eliminating the 1105 series anyways?
  4. With regards to a written exam, who would be the grading authority? If DAU’s Ask a Professor is any sort of guide, it shows that everyone has an opinion. One professor may say one thing, while another professor may believe something else. Answers to written exams aren’t always clear cut. Then again, multiple choice exams seem to encourage rote learning/memorization, rather than critical thinking. Perhaps rather than having three levels of certification, would it be worth looking at having some form of certification for specific segments within the FAR? Perhaps a mandatory general certification followed by a specialist certificate in areas such as IT, construction, commercial, and simplified? The only reason I suggest “specialty areas” is because it seems like many people stay in the same area for long periods of time. Would that be too limiting? I can’t speak for everyone else, but most people in my shop have stayed within one general area (construction, for example) for their entire time in contracting. The folks in the construction branch couldn’t be of assistance during the end-year rush because none of them had ever worked on commercial and simplified buys. Should training focus more on specialized areas within the FAR?
  5. (1) More and (2) Better Training?

    I wish that was true, but that hasn't been the case where I am. I came in under FCIP and had to go through annual rotations (4 managers in 5 years). Only one manager actually had the patience to train me in anything related to acquisitions.. I'm sure all my managers had the knowledge and experience, but they considered training to be a chore. On a related note, we have far too many people in managerial positions who have absolutely no business managing people. If you want to be a GS 14 or 15 and manage people, you better be all in.
  6. (1) More and (2) Better Training?

    As someone who just completed all Level III training, I'd say we need better training. By "better" I mean that various set standards need to be followed in order to get the most out of the courses. I recall my CON 217 class was radically different than the 217 taken by a colleague a few months later. Some instructors require formal closed-book exams, while others allow open notes. Some instructors grade on presentations, while others grade on paper projects. I've also noticed a sharp difference between teaching styles at MCI, ESI, Gestalt, and NPI. Seems like these private vendors tailor their course content as they see fit. I mean, I am sure they have some guidelines, but how do we know for sure? Why not put "undercover" acquisition professionals/experts in these brick-and-mortar courses just to get their opinion. It sounds a bit paranoid, but might be worth a shot.
  7. A Management Concepts classmate mentioned the same exact thing with regard to the cradle-to-grave admin work. He had moved from the DoD to a smaller civilian agency and was blindsided the amount of administrative mods, de-obs, invoicing, and other nuances involved. He came from a large-scale program to the "minor leagues" and it was totally new. I'm at ba civilian agency and the cradle-to-grave type of work seems normal to me. I spend half my day dealing directly with program offices and other customers. I can't imagine not having direct contact with the requiring customer office.
  8. This morning I had an interesting discussion with eight veteran contracting officers (all near retirement age). We were all killing time around the table in a meeting room waiting for a presentation to start. I was the youngest of the group by 30 years and I am only about 4 years into the 1102 world (31 y.o). The casual topic of the "state" of contracting was up in the air and everyone shared their experiences in the field. So I asked the entire group if they would recommend entering into the 1102 field to anyone under 30 and I didn't get a single hand. Not a one. As a matter of fact, every person told me that they wouldn't even try to work for the government if they had to choose between public and private sectors. So would you go into the 1102 field if you had the chance to do it all over again? What do you tell younger co-workers regarding the field and its future?
  9. All Time Favorites

    1. What is your all time favorite book? Dodge Dynasty by Caroline Latham and David Agresta 2. What is your all time favorite song or album? Album: Tears for Fears: Tears Toll Down Greatest Hits 81-92 Song: Time by Pink Floyd 3. What is your all time favorite movie? Fletch 4. Who is your favorite poet? Edgar Guest
  10. I am trying to get everyone's opinion on being embedded versus being centralized in a contracting setting. You see, I currently work in a centralized acquisitions office with about 150 contracting personnel. Our office is known to have customer service issues in several areas, including response time and communication. Often times, the "customers" and 1102s never actually meet. The work is simply done via email and over the phone with little human interaction. My agency has a few specialized 1102s embedded with various program offices, but overall, we do most of the acquisitions from one geographic location. The good thing is that I am surrounded by experienced contracting personnel with a wealth of knowledge. The bad part about being centralized is that customer service declines rapidly. I have noticed that many 1102s tend to lose focus of the requirement(s). However, newcomers and interns seem to benefit from being in a large acquisitions office rather than being in a field office with little support. What has your experience been being embedded/centralized? What did you enjoy about being embedded with a program? What did you enjoy about being in a central contracting office?
  11. Centralized vs. Embedded Contracting

    I suppose I was inquiring about both, in a way. However, my agency is much smaller than the DoD, so the scale of the programs(s) is much smaller. I have found, however, that many of the COs become "subject matter experts" after being involved in a program for so long. The problem is that the Co becomes so valuable to the program (embedded or not) that if he or she leaves, the effect becomes detrimental to the program itself.
  12. Would you do it all over again?

    This is pretty much what the older employees were talking about with me. They complained that the 1102 field has become so automated that it may not really even require a college degree. I agree that we are now largely "buyers" for lack of a better term. Most of the younger and newer 1102s at my agency perform duties similar to the ones above. Seems like we use GWACs and existing IDIQs and other vehicles because everything is rushed. With that said, my agency has lost a massive amount of experienced folks in the last year due to retirements. Hundreds of years of combined experience walked right out the door and wasn't retained, unless you count the one retiree that came back as a part time contract adviser. In all, the one thing I did notice was the animosity between the older and younger 1102 employees when it came to the pay scale and promotions. The older employees complained that it took them decades to reach GS 14, when many of the younger 1102s were reaching 14 under the age of 30, yet they weren't working on anything different than the older and more experienced employees. Maybe that is just my agency though...
  13. One issue that I am seeing is the amount of wait-listing for required CON classes. Yes, some agencies have the resources to have their own internal CON training schools/facilities. However, my agency does not have that, so I am at the mercy of scheduling and open chairs in classes. I have been wait-listed for CON 353 for months now because of a backlog. My agency requires this course in order to meet certain "career milestones" including the required Level III certification. Speaking of Level III...my agency has far too many contracting employees with Level III training, yet these same employees do not do anything even remotely near even Level II work. Why would an agency push for advanced contract training for employees that do basic-level contracting work?
  14. How to find the best places to work

    This is what is starting to happen to me in my current position at a civilian agency. For me, buying laptops, conference space and janitorial services is starting to become rather boring to say the least. Whenever I talk to DoD 1102s, they tell me about all the amazing projects they get to be a part of and how they play a major role in the contracting process. Seems like they are a long ways away from doing de-obs and task orders.
  15. 1102 Work -- Reporting

    FPDS is the main system that my agency reports into after all contract actions. The good thing is that FPDS has the ability to pull information from our acquisition system (Momentum). The bad news is that it doesn't always pull data and we have to manually enter in everything, which takes a lot of time and effort. It seems like we are just duplicating information to be quite honest.
  16. What are you listening to?

    -The Smiths-Asleep (song) -Bombay Bicycle Club-A Different Kind of Fix (album) -Nick Drake-Cello Song -Duke Ellington-The Far East Suite (album)
  17. Dan Gordon is leaving OFPP.

    Steve Kelman is great! He has visited my office a number of times and offered words of wisdom and gave his opinion on a number of issues. I think his visits were arranged through our internbal FedBid team...guess he sits on their Board.
  18. As a rookie, I am in the process of breaking down and examining a base plus 4 service proposal and have wanted to know more about the proposed hourly rates. As a Contract Specialist, am I allowed to have the vendor breakdown the hourly rate and show me how much will go towards pay, benefits, profit, etc? Is this something I can legally ask and would they even have to respond? They basically gave a rate of $119.53 for the first year, but didn?t specifically breakdown that amount. Should I inquire deeper? Any thoughts?
  19. Yes I am a gov. employee so was wondering if that would have any effect on it as well...
  20. Yes, I have a good idea of the compensation in the industry today and have a few examples that I can use in order to compare or benchmark. I wasn't sure if it was actually legal for me to see the exact $ amount the contractor would be paid without the excess benefits and so forth. I figured that seeing the total rate would only be allowed.
  21. As a new 1102, I have encountered a lot of problems that many on this forum would consider routine and easy to manage. As a newcomer, I tend to be pushed around by program offices and others groups because they know that I am ?green? and inexperienced. I have to admit, I am a bit afraid of stepping on anyone?s toes by being too assertive. So here is my issue? Basically, I am working on this IDIQ renewal for IT services?.it is for one individual who has been doing the same job for 11 year while working for different body shops. It is a base plus 4 years and under $2 million so it isn?t what I would call a crucial project. My research indicates that MANY people can do what this particular person does. So not long ago I get an email from the contract employee?s agency boss explaining that they want to keep this employee no matter what happens. The catch is that the ?employee? doesn?t want to leave his body shop because he is afraid he will lose money and benefits by going to anther company. What options do I have? We toyed with the idea of bringing this person on as a Fed but that seems like a far-fetched idea and not really in my realm of responsibility. I also looked at sole-sourcing to an 8(a) and having him be brought on board that vendor, but then again, he refuses to leave the company he is with. When I was hired I was told to never work against the wishes of my customers. This person has been on the job over a decade so he must be doing something right. But, isn?t that a bit of a stretched timeframe for a contractor doing the same job for the same agency? How valuable can this person really be if many others can do his job?
  22. The value of a long-term contractor

    Vern, thanks for the detailed and helpful reply and nope, I won?t sign the contract. It can be said that my current group is a bit disorganized and that is throwing me off since I am new to the world of contracting. The biggest issue I have is that I have 4 different ?parties? telling me to do 4 different things. It is strange because one my of COs is telling me to do things that aren?t even in the FAR while his boss is just worried about supporting the customer. The last thing I want to do is make ?enemies? in the office and agency, but beyond that, I am going to follow the FAR even if it peeves off someone.
  23. I am curious to know if other Contract Specialists and Officers have ever had issues with their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The reason I ask is because my agency?s SDBU seems to be overreacting about every single contract action in the book. It seems like my hands are tied behind my back whenever I do anything?from using FedBid to Sole-sourcing 8(a) firms. Nothing is ever ?good enough? for them. Apparently, my home agency was ?reprimanded? for failing to meet certain Small Business goals several years back. Now, I understand the importance and role that small businesses play in the economy, but it seems to go overboard with so many things. In many cases, SDBU really hampers our effectiveness by holding things up for days and even weeks at a time. They always need time to review?and then review a little more. I don't mean to sound whiny but this office seems to hinder rather than help at times. I mean, they are great folks but it seems they would rather meet their SB goals at all costs. Has anyone had similar experiences with their Small Biz office?
  24. Contracting Officer Testing

    As an intern, I am very interested and open to the testing methods prescribed by Mr. Edwards. The current ?status quo? involves assembly-line style training, which appears to be focused on presentation and speed rather than substance. One can only refer to the sheer amount of badly planned online training as an example of what is wrong with government acquisition training today. As you all know, DAU offers most basic CON courses such as 110, 111, and 112 online. From the onset, this would make sense to a time-conscious manager. These exams have no required essays and no presentations whatsoever. As a matter of fact, a student may finish the course without taking much away due to being allowed to ?fail? the exam 3 times before failing the class. By the way, the online exams are all untimed, open-book and seem to be focused on rote-learning methods rather than critical thinking. I will dare to go one further than Mr. Edwards and offer some sort of teamwork section of an exam where you are assigned a certain task to perform with other students. Maybe this could even be combined with an oral/presentation section of the examination? Maybe I am being a bit naive, but teamwork seems to be almost as important as self-reliance in the world of government contracts. I am sure the veterans of contracting will rip the prevois statement apart though. A lot of people seem to think that having an exam at the end of every class substitutes the need for having one final ?bar? examination. I can?t say that I have benefited from multiple choice exams at the end of a long class. From my experience, most people tend to take away more from a course that pushes critical thinking skills rather than memorization. Lectures with no form or clarity go in one ear and out the other when hands-on learning isn't invloved. That is why I have to read and explore on my own since I can't really trust the instructor to give me everything I need. Mr. Edwards also mentioned about how lawyers are not required to take the bar exam after one has passed. That is true, but COs are required to complete X amount of continuous learning credit hours every so many years. I have taken one of these elective courses filled with experienced COs just looking for a blow-off class just to use as filler. These ?continuous education? modules serve as nothing more than a means for external vendors to line their pockets. Most of them are 2-3 days long and offer no examination at the end.
  25. What are you reading?

    The Siege of Vienna: The Last Great Trial Between Cross & Crescent by John Stoye. If you enjoy history you will love this one...
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