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jtolli

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Everything posted by jtolli

  1. ji20874 gave some good general advice. Just to add I typically look for indicators that the PWS (or SOW if you prefer) is not requiring the contractor to perform inherently governmental functions (FAR Subpart 7.5), or personal services (FAR Subpart 37.104). I have many years of experience reviewing these documents. In my experience you need to have some analytical skills, critical reading skills, and common sense. One example that comes to mind is a PWS for IT support services that I reviewed where the contractor was tasked to "monitor the networks for security issues". That was all that specific task required. My feedback to the requiring activity was, and what do you want the contractor to do if they detect issues? Are they just supposed to monitor, do you want them to correct the issues, report the issue to the Government, what? In my personal experience a good review takes a special skill set, most 1102's I have worked with either do not have this skill set, or are too busy to do a comprehensive review of these documents. Your mileage may vary.
  2. As h2h pointed out, this issue goes beyond acquisitions. It appears to be common in any sort of rating program where humans determine the rating. Going back to my active duty Air Force days, we had an enlisted performance rating system that the Air Force eventually replaced because the vast majority of people were getting the top rating. When the new rating system was deployed, it was emphasized that most people would be "average" performers, and therefore should receive average ratings. This only lasted a little while, as I recall less than a year, until people complained that it was hurting these average performers, as some supervisors were once again giving their average performers the top rating. Many of these "top performers" were now given a promotion advantage (the promotion system was weighted with the performance rating being one of the factors). While many "satisfactory" performers were actually above satisfactory, but their supervisors didn't want to contribute towards over inflating the "new" performance rating system. As a civil service employee, I have seen the above situation played out again. It depends on the agency/organization you are assigned to. Some organizations are liberal with giving top ratings, and some feel that "satisfactory" really is the proper rating for the "average" performer. There are others, such as my current organization, that falls somewhere between those 2 philosophies.
  3. I have a bit of experience with teleworking, both in industry and as a federal employee. My first industry job after military retirement was a full-time telework position. I did that for about 2 1/2 years. I later worked for a DoD 4th estate agency that had a pretty liberal telework policy. For my first 6 months or so with the DoD agency, I teleworked full time as there was just not enough office space for some of us. Once they located office space, we teleworked one day per pay period. In theory telework sounds good. But it requires a lot of self-discipline, even for those who are considered top level performers in the office. Teleworking from home can be subject to a lot of distractions that you don't have at work, at least that was my experience. People prone to abuse their time at work (e.g. smoke breaks, chat breaks, etc.) are likely more prone to do so while teleworking. One 1102 I worked with, who was considered a top notch employee by her supervisor, referred to her telework Friday as "FO Friday". I will let you figure out what FO means. I got the impression that many people who teleworked felt the same as her. Overall, I think the performance risks of telework outweigh the benefits, but I am old school.
  4. It's kind of hard to answer the question without knowing the specifics of the 1101 position. By specifics I mean the job responsibilities, and not just the job title. "COR" duties vary widely from job to job. Some 1102's are now setting in jobs as 1101's, when they were hired into 1102 positions. This is especially true in the Army who supposedly came down a few years back and said to be an 1102 you have to work in a contracting office. That's the case in my current job. I work with teammates who were 1102's, were hired as 1102's, then converted to 1101's due to the Army policy. Like COR jobs and titles, 1101 jobs and titles vary widely. I look at 1101 jobs almost daily on USAJOBS, and there appear to be more and more 1101 jobs being advertised with duties that sound a whole lot like an 1102 position. I have also personally seen 1102's sitting in jobs titled as COR. There are also very lucrative high graded 1101 jobs. In my last Agency the HCA, an SES position, was an 1101. But generally speaking, there are a lot more 1102 jobs out there, and usually 1102 jobs are generally higher graded positions.
  5. The rule for paying "checkout fees" with the Government Purchase Card (GPC) changed a while back. It depends on where (State) the vendor is located See: https://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/pdi/pc/faq.html#q18 "Can I purchase from merchants that charge a surcharge/checkout fee to use the GPC? Answer: It depends on where the merchant is located. If the merchant is located within a U.S. state or U.S. territories permitting merchants to impose a surcharge/checkout fee for charge/credit card purchases, then the CH may either make the purchase with the fee pursuant to the following requirements or consider another merchant that does not charge a surcharge/checkout fee. Surcharge/checkout fees are not imposed by merchants within the following U.S. states, which do not permit such fees: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah." As for PayPal and other third party payment processors, the GPC rules say that they can be used only if there is no other vendor who accepts credit card payments. This kind of goes counter to the Government's push to use small businesses. Many small businesses use a Third Party Payment processor as the fees are cheaper than the fees charged to accept a credit card payment, but the rules don't allow us to purchase from these vendors unless they are the only one's who offer the product or service. Use to be payment through a Third Party Payment processor was flat out forbidden, so the rules have eased up some. I suspect they may be eased up even more, as more and more (small) vendors move to Third Party Payment vs. credit card payments.
  6. Been there, and done that many times over. At least you have a director who is concerned with having a quality SOW/PWS. My experience has been that I appear to be the only party involved who really cares that the PWS is well written. The attitude of everyone else has usually been why sweat it, it really isn't that important, and would only become an issue if we go to court, which rarely happens so why invest the time trying to perfect the document? So I usually fix what I can, as it easier to fix it yourself than to try to explain what is wrong, and end up having to do it yourself anyway. Of course some things you can't fix yourself, so you end up with a not so good document getting into the contract.
  7. If the designated office can't receive proposals at the time specified, and time does not permit an amendment to the solicitation, proposals will be due at the same time on the next Government work day.
  8. Reminds me of a response we received to an RFI. The company didn't respond with any relevant information, but instead provided a sales pitch for a software product they were selling; telling us how we could benefit from it. For those of us who had to review the response, it did not leave a positive impression on us, much like receiving spam or junk mail.
  9. You can also find SaaS products on GSA Advantage classified as term software licenses (a product or supply).
  10. I don't know a lot about the SEWP agency catalogs, but my last Agency did establish some. My understanding is that they are a lot like FAR Part 8 BPA's. There is a competition amongst SEWP contract holders up front to establish an agency catalog. Based on that competition, an agency catalog is then created for those specific products. The catalog may contain several contractors who offer that product, with their prices, or it may only contain one contractor. From that point on, any requirement the Agency has for a product in the catalog can be restricted to only those contractors who have an agency catalog for the product. I'm not clear about how SEWP does this within the confines of FAR Part 16 however. If there are multiple contractors for the catalog, the order is competed amongst those contractors. If there is only one contractor in the catalog, then no competition occurs.
  11. You could do that. I have never seen the contracting office "keep" these spreadsheets, it was the CORs who kept them, although they were part of the COR file that is available to the contracting office. Here is a real world scenario where having the contractor provide the spreadsheets with each invoice would be problematic. You have a service contract that involves a lot of travel under a Cost CLIN. When I say a lot I mean 30 - 60 trips a month. The contractor is required by contract to submit travel requests to the COR for approval prior to travel. The travel requests includes among other information the estimated cost for the trip. Prior to approving the travel the COR is required to verify funds remain to cover the projected travel costs. Since billing occurs after the travel is completed, the payment system or the spreadsheet submitted by the contractor with their previous invoice, will not reflect travel costs that have been incurred, but have yet to be billed. Maintaining the invoice spreadsheet allows the COR to log each of these travel requests as they come in, and verify that sufficient funds remain the cover the next trip. I guess you could require that the contractor submit am up-to-date spreadsheet with each travel request if you wanted to.
  12. I have seen the requirement to maintain such a log specified in COR appointment letters. For fixed price contracts it is usually not a big deal, however for Time and Materials and Labor Hour contracts, and I would assume also for Cost contracts, it is a bit more important. CORs are/were to use such a tracking mechanism to verify that sufficient funds remain on the contract to pay invoices that are submitted. While the tracking spreadsheet is not the "official record" of the balance of funds, the payment system is, it certainly should be a quick way to ascertain whether funds remain to pay the invoice. While you could go into the automated payment system to determine if funds remain, that is usually much more work than having a properly maintained spreadsheet that can be used to quickly see how much money is left. For example, the Army now uses the General Funds Enterprise Business System (GFEBS) as their payment system. To go into GFEBS to validate the balance of funds would take between 5 - 10 minutes per contract, depending how proficient you are with the system, and what information you had to begin with (having the contract number would typically not be enough to quickly get to the data you are searching for). You could do the same thing within a couple of minutes if you use a tracking spreadsheet. In the DoD Agency I now work with, neither the CORs or the contracting office even has access to the payment system to verify remaining funds, so a spreadsheet maintained by the COR is even more important.
  13. I just recently interviewed for a new job, but it is an 1101 vs. 1102 position. The job title is "Contracts Advisor". I will say, based on my experience, the interview process appears to be largely dependent on the agency you are interviewing with. This was my third interview for a government job, and the interview was very much different than the first 2 interviews I went through. Past interviews contained a lot of questions about things directly relevant to the jobs I was interviewing for; e.g. a lot of questions about contracting. This most recent interview contained very few questions like that, and a lot of "general" type questions. Some examples were: 1) What accomplishment during your professional career are you most proud of, 2) What makes a good work environment, 3) Tell me something about yourself that is not reflected in your resume, 4) Give me some examples of when you were involved with a team, and the outcomes achieved. What I did a few days before my interview was to google "government job interview tips", and got some tips that way. My interview was also a phone interview with a panel of 5 people who each had 3 questions. Picking up tips from google helped in that it made me anticipate an interview process that was potentially different than those I had previously experienced. It also made me try to anticipate some of the "non-technical" type questions I may be asked, and allowed me to make notes of things I wanted to discuss during the interview. In the end I did not anticipate most of the questions asked, but having notes did allow me to weave some of my information into answers for some of the questions that were asked. Having the interview conducted via telephone was beneficial to me as I was able to spread my notes out in front of me while the interview was going on. One thing I picked up on google was that most people think they did not do well on the interview after it was over. That was true in my case as well. The interview was allotted an hour, and was finished in 20 minutes. After it was over I thought of a lot of things I should have said, but didn't. I thought I blew it, but got a phone call a few days later telling me that I got the job.
  14. I learned many years ago that a "call order" was an order placed under a BPA. Don't remember if I actually learned that as part of training, or if someone just told me that. I have found that many people in contracting today aren't familiar with that term however. The GSA FPDS-NG Data Element Dictionary still refers to BPA orders as a "Part 8 BPA Call" or "Part 13 BPA Call".
  15. Yes, I looked it up in the DoD Electronic Document Access (EDA) system.
  16. The first order to satisfy the minimum order guarantee was issued at the time of contract execution.
  17. When I worked for the Army, I was an 1101. We were liaisons between the end customers, and the contracting office. We advised customers on procurement policies, assisted them in preparing documentation (Performance Work Statements, Independent Government Cost Estimates, Justifications & Approvals, etc.) by reviewing/editing their submittals. We also served as CORs for the non-personal services contracts. Finally, we were the Government Purchase Card holders for the organization. Our Army organization was assimilated into a new DoD level Agency that was stood up. Within this Agency we still have 1101 that do much the same thing that we were doing in the Army. Myself, I moved into the contracting office, still as an 1101, doing a lot of things that I did as an 1101 for the Army, but now on a much larger scale.
  18. It depends on the specific software. Some (most) software licenses are perpetual. Some software licenses are term licenses.
  19. Key personnel language in a PWS drives me crazy. Some of the things the customer puts in would seem to be unenforceable. It just so happens I got a new requirement in today that I am looking at. Here are some excerpts for key personnel. "Substitutions of proposed Key Personnel shall not be allowed for one-year after award, except under extreme circumstances." "Replacement of Key Personnel can be accomplished under the following circumstances: Death Serious, prolonged illness, the onset of which post-dates the contractor’s submission of that Key Person’s resume to the government. In the case of a Key person who was a Contractor employee when the Contractor submitted his or her resume to the government, the Key Person leaves the Contractor’s employment for reasons other than retirement and does not commence work for a subcontractor on this contract or for the contractor after a hiatus." "Failure to replace a Key Person pursuant to this clause and without a break in performance of the labor category at issue is a basis for default termination, as are Key Personnel proposed not performing this contract (e.g., the Offeror is unable to hire one or more of the Key Personnel it proposed). Offerors are responsible for conducting due diligence to ensure that Key Personnel proposed will perform on this contract should the Offeror receive the award. Offerors may propose Key Personnel who they do not employ at the time the offer is submitted, but failure of such proposed Key Personnel to commence work on this contract will be deemed a prima facie showing of the Offeror’s lack of adequate due diligence and reflect poorly on business integrity and responsibility."
  20. I "think" the calculation is done by DFAS, it may even be automated I don't know. I do know that the contracting office does not do it. I also "think" it is paid automatically. This is based on what I have seen in payment systems, after an invoice with interest has been paid out. In todays world of IT, I would think that is all automated.
  21. I think it's important to note if the "contractor" who is preparing the SOW is doing it under an existing contract. See Viereck, B-237726, March 20, 1990. "The organizational conflict of interest provisions on which the Army relies are intended to assure that the government receives unbiased advice when it employs a firm --"the contractor"-- to prepare specification used in the competitive procurement of items. Viereck, however, was not hired by the government to prepare the specifications here."
  22. illzoni, The only reason I caught those differences is because there was some debate at my agency as to whether a Limited Source(s) Justification should be labeled a "Limited Source Justification" or "Limited Sources Justification". Yeah, I know it is minor, and there are much bigger things to worry about, but it was just something that came up one day, and I discovered the difference between the two websites. It does make you wonder if there are other differences however, and if maybe they may be more significant. I know of no one who uses the acquisition.gov website for FAR research, and everyone I know uses the Air Force site. Even when I went to DAU training, they gave us the reference to the Air Force site.
  23. I don't know if I would call them discrepancies, but I have noticed differences. For example, compare FAR 8.405-6. On the Air Force site it is titled, "Limited Sources". On the acquisition.gov site it is titled, "Limiting Sources". Similarly, see FAR 8.405-6©(2)(i) which, on the Air Force site, says, "...and specific identification of the document as a “Limited Source Justification.”" On the acqusition.gov site it reads, "...and specific identification of the document as a “Limited-Sources Justification.”". Those are just a couple of small variances I have noted. I like the Air Force site better, as the font is larger, which is easier on my old eyes.
  24. Thanks for the input Jacques. Based on the research I did, I could find nothing that prohibited restricting a prime from also being a sub to another prime in their proposal. But you did bring to light some interesting information with FAR Subpart 9.6. You bring up a good question regarding, "Can a sub team with multiple primes?" I also asked myself that same question yesterday. While doing my research I did find some GAO case law regarding subs teaming with multiple primes. These cases generally involved the requirement for Certificate of Independent Price Determination (FAR 52.203-2), and allegations of price collusion. I think Don asked the question that gets right to the point; What would be your justification for including the restrictive provision? My recommendation to my boss was that we not do it, unless we have some valid reason to do so, which I do not know about.
  25. Thanks for the input Retreadfed. This requirement is for IT support services. We expect ro receive numerous proposals, so I do not expect that we will receive a proposal from a vendor as a prime, who would also be the sub on a large number of the other proposals. Therefore adequate price competition should not be an issue. I asked my boss why would we want to prohibit a vendor from submitting as a prime, and also be a sub on a different vendor's proposal, and her response was , "why would we not want to prohibit it?"; find some justification to prohibit it.
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