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Guardian

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    Innovation in Federal Contracting, Agile, AI, DIY Repair and Improvements, Hiking, Animals, Knowledge and Happiness.

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  1. @joel hoffman Understood. I got through school in part by working with brick masons, or as the Aussies might call them, "brickies." They referred to a pallet of brick as a "cube," which contains around 500 bricks. Cubes were typically made up of five individual straps. But I understand your point; the FAR contemplates no limit to how many "bricks" the Government might purchase as a commericial item supply.
  2. @ji20874 That makes sense. So then, for instance, the Government could buy a few cubes of brick for their faculties personnel, who are federal employees, to build or repair a structure.
  3. I am just curious, why do you think FAR section 2.101 defines Commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) item by parenthetically including "construction material"? (1) Means any item of supply (including construction material) that is– (i) A commercial product (as defined in paragraph (1)† of the definition of “commercial product” in this section); (ii) Sold in substantial quantities in the commercial marketplace; and (iii) Offered to the Government, under a contract or subcontract at any tier, without modification, in the same form in which it is sold in the commercial marketplace.... †Commercial product means— (1) A product, other than real property, that is of a type customarily used by the general public or by nongovernmental entities for purposes other than governmental purposes, and– (i) Has been sold, leased, or licensed to the general public; or (ii) Has been offered for sale, lease, or license to the general public....
  4. Everyone, try this link for the article: https://everything-voluntary.com/school-is-for-wasting-time-and-money When I left school, I joined the Jaycees. There I met and quickly befriended a guy, who was less than five years into the financial services industry. He had attended a prep school and then an elite university. We spoke often over the next ten years before I aged out of the organization. One of his sayings was, "if you do nothing, one thing is for certain, nothing will happen [i.e., you will merely continue to be acted upon by the circumstances of life]." Another observation he relayed was how few "well educated" young people from top colleges were succeeding in his industry. His explanation was that being an "A" student was sometimes indicative of nothing more than one's ability to follow instructions and regurgitate information. However, it says little about one's capacity to think independently and assess real world situations. This is not to say that learning how to follow instructions and meet deadlines are not critical to success. They absolutely are. But to achieve greater success, there must be more. I remember my first day of high school English class. The instructor stood before us and admitted, I really cannot teach any of you to write well. He went on to say, if you want to be an excellent writer you should make a lifelong commitment to reading. Read everything you can get your hands on. Start by reading what you enjoy, to develop your comprehension and speed, then branch out from there. Most people do not regularly read books and serious articles. When I say most people, I am referring to those within my sphere, meaning specialists, attorneys and organizational leaders. This is why statements of work do not make sense. This is why the highest paid people have others writing for them. But it's not just that people in today's professional workforce cannot write. They cannot read, or will not take the time. So much so that DOD is teaching its most highly graded employees to ask their questions in the first sentence of their correspondences and to limit emails to no more than a few sentences. It seems that reading to the end of a paragraph or two has become too much for the modern workforce. But, you might take exception, we are all so busy. What is it we are so busy doing? What is it that is distracting us? We hear the term "high level" all the time. What does this term really mean?
  5. @Vern Edwards I likely could not, nor would I seek to. I had an opportunity earlier this year to visit Montpelier, home to James Madison, who is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the Constitution." While there, our tour guide offered up some interesting points. At an early age, Madison left Virginia to attend Princeton University. There he became the prized pupil of John Witherspoon, a native born Scot, who was strongly influenced by the principles of the Scottish Enlightenment. Madison was affected by his professor's teachings, so much so that historical scholars attribute many of our Constitution's ideals to those compelling that European event. At the foundation was the disruptive belief that rights were not bestowed by kings or governments. Rather, they were preordianed by a natural order or Divine Providence. Yes, there are countless kinks in our historical fabric, as we are all aware. Regardless, there has never been anything like the American experiment. These principles of inalienable rights are what led us from a national capital paved with mud as the Capitol dome was being framed, to developments in science that landed men on the moon about one hundred years later. Can I define "objective truth"? Probably not. Did I offer a sublunary example? Yes, I believe so.
  6. @amazedbygrace86 With all due respect, I would regard such a postulation an opinion.
  7. "It is right also that philosophy should be called knowledge of the truth. For the end of theoretical knowledge is truth, while that of practical knowledge is action (for even if they consider how things are, practical men do not study the eternal, but what is relative and in the present). Now we do not know a truth without its cause; and a thing has a quality in a higher degree than other things if in virtue of it the similar quality belongs to the other things as well (e.g. fire is the hottest of things; for it is the cause of the heat of all other things); so that that causes derivative truths to be true is most true. Hence the principles of eternal things must be always most true (for they are not merely sometimes true, nor is there any cause of their being, but they themselves are the cause of the being of other things), so that as each thing is in respect of being, so is it in respect of truth." [Metaphysics by Aristotle, Book II, Part 1; as translated by W. D. Ross; http://classics.mit.edu//Aristotle/metaphysics.html]
  8. @Vern Edwards I am not sure I can define objective truth adequately. As @WifWaf expressed in his recent post discussing the concept of via negativa, I am more inclined to identify what an objective truth is not than what it might be. If I had to make an imperfect attempt at defining the term, I would start by identifying two of its core characteristics, i.e., that which is external to us and unchanging. I can still recall my senior year at a parochial high school three decades ago. Our philosphy instructor required us to submit an end of the semester paper describing the Buddha as we understood him. I remember struggling with my classmates to elucidate something worthy of a preponderantly weighted written assignment, based upon our reading and in class discussions. On the due date of the assignment, one student laid his paper on the instructor's desk, a single page with two written words, "Buddha is." This same classmate was accepted to and graduated from Yale University. He became a teacher and has travelled the world as an instructor in several countries. When I consider objective truth relative to subjective truth, I think of Plato's allegory of the cave: Imagine a number of people living in an underground cave, which has an entrance that opens towards the daylight. The people have been in this dwelling since childhood, shackled by the legs and neck, such that they cannot move nor turn their heads to look around. There is a fire behind them, and between these prisoners and the fire, there is a low wall. Rather like a shadow puppet play, objects are carried before the fire, from behind the low wall, casting shadows on the wall of the cave for the prisoners to see. Those carrying the objects may be talking, or making noises, or they may be silent. What might the prisoners make of these shadows, of the noises, when they can never turn their heads to see the objects or what is behind them? [from Plato's Republic]
  9. "How can we make group decisions if we are all working with different information, backgrounds and biases?... When it comes to determining the truth, what's more reliable, ambiguity or unanimity? Strangely enough, sometimes the closer your get to total agreement, the less trustworthy a result becomes." https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8132998-in-a-grove
  10. Vern, you literally had me digging through boxes in the closet to find my books. Because of that I found my Management Concepts "Principles of Federal Appropriations Law" binder, which I was missing (completely unrelated, but so glad to have found it). I also found my woodworker's model of Camden Yards encased in bubble wrap. How apropos. Per Black's, "guarantee" is only defined as a noun, specifically, "[o]ne to whom a guaranty is made." So then, I looked below that to the term "guaranty," which, as a verb (as I applied the word), is defined as follows, "[t]o undertake collaterally to answer for the payment of another's debt or the performance of another's duty, liability or obligation. As a noun, it is defined as "[a] collateral agreement for performance of another's undertaking." The Oxford Dictionary defines the verb form of "guarantee" as "[providing] a formal assurance or promise, especially that certain conditions shall be fulfilled related to a product, service, or transaction." By this definition, a "proposal" (if we interpret the term to mean an "offer" subsequently met by acceptance and legal consideration) can be said to guarantee a specific level of performance or outcome. Therefore, I think I understand the point of your question and its lesson. Because without acceptance and legal consideration, we would not have a binding contract. But if we are to consider the guaranty or guarantee as a promise in conjunction with offer and acceptance, then I would say my original assertion is incorrect, that is, the promise is in fact a guarantee by the offeror of its future success, to which the Government may rightly hold them. If I may, please allow me to frame it as follows. I recently conducted a debriefing. The unsuccessful offeror stated that they should have received an acceptable rating for the factor of key personnel because their proposed KP met all of the RFP's requirements for that factor. I responded that while that may be true, they did not demonstrate as much in their submitted proposal. We went through the KP resume in comparison to the Government's minimum qualification requirements. I asked the contractor representative, "where herein do you demonstrate to the Government that your proposed member of key personnel meets our stated requirements?". They confessed that although the individual they proposed had the necessarily qualifications, they now understood their mistake was in their failure to demonstrate it to the agency. With that, I made the point that there is a clear difference between one's ability to meet the Government's stated requirements and demonstrating as much in a proposal or offer.
  11. The modal verb "will," representing the future tense, is defined by at least one source as "expressing inevitable [adj., certain to happen; unavoidable] events." The contents of proposals can portend, but never guarantee, success. Aside from the fact that the above sentence is atrociously written, how can anything expressed in a proposal ensure a certain level of performance? Proposals demonstrate. That is all they do. They guarantee nothing and may not be accurate. This is yet another worrisome indication that those currently at the higher echelons of contracting and policy making continue to lack command of the fundamentals. In 2016, first basemen Chris Davis signed a seven-year, $161M contract with the Baltimore Orioles. "Crush" Davis was offered this fabulous sum of money based on his exceptional past performance, having ranked 2nd in the American League the previous season in RBIs with 117 and leading MLB in home runs (47). Two years before that, he led the majors in home runs (53), RBIs (153) and total bases (370). His performance after the signing of his contract in 2016 never again came remotely close to his achievements in the previous three years. In 2020, he batted a league low .115 with one RBI and no home runs. From 2016 through his early retirement in 2021, he recorded an unimpressive .196 overall batting average. Baltimore owed Davis $17M for the 2022 season, not to mention, significant deferred payments through 2037. Ergo, past performance or demonstrated qualifications can never guarantee that the awardee will exceed anything "to the considerable advantage of [the contracting party] during contract performance."
  12. @WifWaf This resonates with me considerably with where I am in my career right now. Most people know about the famous Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. If people haven't read it, they should. I read it about ten years ago, but can remember significant parts of it well. It unfolds as a saga of sorts, with Jobs as an illustrative antihero. In the preface, Isaacson described the beginnings of the book something like this. Jobs approached him saying I will give you the first opportunity to write a biography about me. Isaacson replied something to the effect of "and what makes you think I would want to write a book about you?", to which Jobs responded, "I'm dying." Jobs was forced out of Apple, the company he founded with Steve Wozniak. After the company floundered under the tutelage of his successors, Jobs seized upon an opportunity brought about by a significant dip in Apple's stock price to convince the board to appoint him interim CEO. He later ended up replacing that board and admitting it was he who precipitated the stock devaluation by selling over a million and a half of his own shares at once. The net result was that he regained control of the company he had co-founded, from which he had previously been ousted. Topical to this history of events is a report in the news this week that Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway announced that Apple is now their largest stock holding. The Oracle of Omaha, a nonagenarian, has put his faith and wallet in a company founded by a man who was regularly criticized for being too consumed by details and delaying projects more often than he moved them along, in essence, practicing the principles of via negativa.
  13. @Vern Edwards Understood. Thanks, Vern 🙂.
  14. @Vern Edwards Fair enough. For the record, I did tell the forum both that my understanding is that we have been following the FAR for approximately two decades and that we use non-appropriated funds. I have not worked at my current agency for that long; I provided the best information I had. @Vern Edwards Again, if you go back and read through the entire thread, you will see that I did reveal all of this. I responded to Carl, "Our agency uses non-congressionally appropriated funds. All I have gotten back from our attorney on that is that the bona fide need rule does not apply to us. But, yes I would sign off on behalf of our agency, thereby obligating funds." The latter part of that statement was tongue in cheek. The first part was sincere. I am not going to reveal at which agency I work, particularly when I am posting details about an active acquisition. Please read what I wrote again. I stated that I was not going to announce to all WIFCon registrants where I work. Does anybody else get on here and state where they work specifically? I'll end by saying that I posted the OP by trying my best to summarize the details. By all accounts, my policy and legal departments tell us that we follow the FAR. As questions were asked of me, I readily disclosed that my agency does not use appropriated funds, but that we apply the FAR. I was not sure if we were an NAFI when you first used the term in this thread. Just afterwards, I called my mentor at DoD and he and I spent part of an evening going over GAO cases related to NAFIs. You are right, I could have been clearer. I am devoted to words and language; I always have been. But the street runs both ways. I spend hours throughout the day writing to attorneys, directors and technical advisors, only to find that they seem not to have read what I wrote them. I am flawed, but I seek to refine my skills every day. I have scars and I've been knocked down plenty of times, but I keep getting back up and trying again. With each subsequent attempt, I try to do better than I did before.
  15. @formerfed We are definitely an NAFI that operates with independent funding. I sincerely hope you are pulling my leg, Vern. I think you are. I definitely value your advice and feedback. @joel hoffman I tried to provide every bit of information practicable to make the situation clear. I thought that posters could remain largely anonymous and not disclose the specific agency for which they work. Partly this is based on the need to keep certain information about active acquisitions private to promote fairness in the process, etc. I did not intend to waste anybody's time.
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