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Michael11

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Everything posted by Michael11

  1. In this scenario, which the prime has specifically requested, must the subk staff meet the same qualifications/experience as the prime maintains for the same categories? The prime bid rates for both themselves and a subcontractor and wants us to utilize those categories and rates. But our pricing really doesn't align with the qualifications which they bid at the proposal stage and therefore we're not willing to sign up to align our staff with qualifications we're not familiar with and risk noncompliance. Is this an issue that needs to be negotiated in the sub language - would it be permissible to propose our own qualifications and descriptions for the categories if they didn't meet the qualifications for the categories stated in the prime award? Is there a requirement for the prime that says if your sub is going to map to your categories they must be at least equivalent personnel? The trouble we're having is the prime is small biz and our rates are far higher and it will be tough to make this work. Sorry if this is not clear. Any thoughts are appreciated.
  2. Thanks for the input. I think I'm following. Except I don't often see qualifications referenced or included in award documents. At least I can't remember seeing them lately. Which is why i'm confused if we map and propose say our standard set of GSA titles and map each to a RFP specific or contract specific title, and it's not clear whether the specific qualifications are included in the award, can we at that time rely on the standard qualifications or our GSA titles that were fully vetted and mapping in transparency during the proposal stage? I've seen several times where they ask you to map your titles to their and they make clear it's for evaluation purposes, say a price analysis, so I tend to think there's no expectation for a contractor to maintain staff that must meet those levels.
  3. Yes, the prime contract is T&M. Correct, Vern I meant was the a requirement imposed on the prime by the prime's customer. As the sub, we haven't actually seen the full prime contract either. We've been shared the rates which were awarded and a list of category descriptions that were included in the solicitation. I couldn't actually say whether a specific set of qualifications is listed for these categories in the prime. All we know is a list of qualifications from the RFP which the prime is suggesting for us to comply. Would you consider the descriptions they bid at the proposal stage to carry the same weight or would they be enforceable if not actually incorporated into the contract? To add to this, several categories are known to not have any qualifications attached to them. In the absence of a firm requirement we were thinking of just mapping functional titles to a reasonable rate for each. The fact is it's two companies, two business models, and a lot of unknowns. I was sort of thinking this to be like the difference between taking inventory from a big box store, say a fishing rod from bass pro, which is for sale at a rock bottom price, and taking it to some mom and pop shop and telling them to sell it for the same price. Never gonna happen, right? Hard to really know the full extent of our obligations until we see whether there are contract mandated qualifications for each category and what they are. I guess I tend to agree if those exist that a sub would have to comply with the same set of qualifications.
  4. Does anyone have any guidance or best practices for how to properly manage vendor and/or subcontract costs as you near the end of a base period and enter an option period? The SOW is essentially the exact same for both periods - it's just a continuation of services. Any costs incurred during the base period would go towards delivery of the ultimate campaign which would end at the end of OY 1. It's possible we may find ourselves in an underrun scenario under the base period which has it's own pool of funds and can't be extended or carried over past the base period end date. Is it permissible to incur costs during the base period for services that may be delivered in both the base and option periods? These costs would technically be 'in scope' for either period. I want to give the project team clear guidance on what can and cannot be paid with base period funds versus waiting until the OY starts.
  5. Help I wasn't trying to give you a hard time. I figured my comment would get a rise out of somebody. Although I think Vern's response actually supports my previous statement that leaving $ on the table does not set you up for a better CPARS rating. He eloquently explained that a requirements manager dare not issue an award and not do everything he or she can to get the most bang for Uncle Sam's buck. If the $ is spent, it's going towards a good cause (or should be). And there's no incentive to spend less than the budget (because what sense would that make?). On the other hand, as a contractor, you know that every contract/task order could be your last, so you're going to do everything you can to protect your financial resources. If a contractor is willing to leave a bunch of $ on the table, they either already made a boat load or couldn't figure out how to legally spend it down.
  6. Help: I gave them two weeks. The people have spoken. Nobody gives a crap about CPARS.
  7. Thanks, Help. Your post is pretty spot on. Yes, it's a cost type agreement. It's still a little early to determine whether a legitimate underrun will occur which is why we're planning. It would not affect any incentives to my knowledge. We wouldn't necessarily be accelerating performance but we would be cognizant of when certain vendor costs hit our books as they relate to the base POP. If the SOW has, say, military community outreach as an activity. It's written the exact same way for both the base and option period. If activities we may have originally planned internally to occur during the option period just so happen to fall under the base period, assuming the rest of the contract requirements are met, these costs would still be allowable under the base, yes? RE: your feedback about not blowing the budget or pushing the envelop the spend every dime - I can only speak to my experience but it's my opinion that the COR/CO largely want just as much for the contractor to spend every dime (assuming they're adequately performing the requirement and doing a good job). If a large balance remained at the end of the contract, it reflected poorly on somebody. The COR developed a faulty estimate. The CO wasn't keeping a closely eye to ensure all funds would be spent (this was tasked to them, sort of). If no funds were left, that was one less thing to closeout the contract (deobligate funds). And in my experience, the COR would do whatever they could to ensure the $ was spent towards their program because they had to make the best use of those funds. Not saying I agree with any of this, but I never got the sense that if you left money on the table, as a contractor, you were in store for a better CPARS rating.
  8. If, after completing a base period, one of the customer you used as your Mfc is no longer a current Client are you required to find the next best active client. Our boa was based on a per client per labor category basis. Since we no linger have certain clients are we required to furnish information for the next best current rate? If we do it will result in an increase to our prices. If we're not obligated to, we've still maintained the discount relationship so could we still leave the rates unchanged if we elected to?
  9. MFC no longer active customer

    Thanks Help that's good advice. I'd rather stay out of the investigation portion of this website
  10. can it be done? They're assisting us in completing our prime deliverables but there won't necessarily be a profit motive in their agreement. Is there a problem using grant terminology under a prime contract award?
  11. Rustydog - just a couple other thoughts. It won't be easy to get your foot in the door with a contractor either without a lot of experience. It sounds like you're pretty green when it comes to federal contracting. What will be important for you to do is quickly get an idea of what the contracting lifecycle is like. What the FAR is and how it works. Terms and conditions, proposals, contract types, deliverables, source selection process, subcontracting, etc.. This is not something you'll want to do without adult supervision. Look at attending one principles of contracting or a contract administration course or even a FAR boot camp. They can be pricey especially when paying out of pocket but they will be a great investment. Attend one course which are normally a week or so. Soak everything in. Network like crazy on coffee breaks, group projects, whatever. Pick the instructors brain a bit. These classes are filled with both Feds and private sector workers. Tell them your story and make the most of the week. Then go home and read every post on this site, recent bid protests, claims and whatever else you can find. Then hit the FAR. Since you're an attorney maybe you like reading stuff like that but it's basically the contracting bible. I don't recommend starting with the FAR because you'll spin your wheels and it will be difficult to grasp the big picture. There are a ton of other recommended readings on this site. By the time you're done, take a look at job postings online. See where there's an opportunity to leverage your legal background and JD with your newfound expertise in contracting. Apply like a bandit. Hopefully by then you'll be in the drivers seat. Keep in mind you can meet the right person and get hired in a day in the private sector. With the Feds it could take months or in my case years to land a job so be realistic with your expectations. But sometimes all it takes is to meet the right fed and your chances will improve but the application process can be frustrating. I'm not sure where your located geographically but obviously DC metro area is where the most opportunities are. After that, look around to see where either a military presence or a federal agency is located. Contractors often situate their offices nearby. And of course, please take this advice with a grain of salt. Check out NCMA too. Best of luck
  12. Thanks for all the feedback this is all very good advice. What Help and Culham suggested is very close to what I envisioned. It's my understanding that the COR is the one who has insisted this could be awarded as a "grant" for whatever reason but I would just assume avoid using that terminology. Policyguy I didn't mean for it to sound like I actually think grants are just giveaways without any oversight. I personally just think there's sort of that stigma attached to it. From my perspective I always want to do as much as I can to show best value and that the govt is getting bang for their buck. Someone may see that we've awarded a "grant" and get the wrong idea but maybe that's just me. Again I appreciate the insights.
  13. I don't know of anything in the contract that specifically prohibits it - we wouldn't be calling it a grant to avoid calling it a subk but because the organization is a non profit accustomed to performing grants. To me, grants have the connotation of just giving away free money without the guarantee or requirement to complete certain deliverables. Which, as the prime, would be a reason I'd want to call it something else. But it seems they will perform a critical support role to the project so I'm optimistic we'll get the govt a good return on their investment as they are aware of the possibility of issuing a grant. I know there is a grants world and a contract world but didn't know if the nature or terms of a grant would be prohibited from being awarded under a contract. I'll take a look at that GAO decision thanks.
  14. Rusty dog - I think the advice given here is prudent but I can't say that I necessarily agree with it. It seems your heart is set on becoming a Contract Specialist. The usajobs descriptions may sound interesting, challenging, and rewarding and sure the job security and bennies are pretty top notch. As someone who practically devoted their life to becoming a CO only to find that it was mostly smoke and mirrors and was actually a bunch of burdensome admin work, I would advise you to look elsewhere. Maybe you could pursue opportunities as an entry level federal contracts attorney - this would likely be much more competitive and harder to get into but if selected would be a much better track. If your background is strictly in law I don't think you will enjoy being a CO. The truth is you WOULD be smarter than the majority of contract specialists and you know the law - don't sell yourself short. Most CS aren't attorneys for a reason. Another suggestion if you're interested in federal contracting - look at contractors in the DC area who need either general counsel or maybe a contracts manager. There, your degree will be valued and it will be much more transferable to your next position should you stay with it. Moving from a contract manager position, where a JD is likely not required, could position you well for a counsel position down the road. Maybe get into bid protests or consulting. Know how to do contract reviews and study the FAR like crazy. CS and attorneys are two distinct tracks in the government and it can be very difficult to transfer between the two. In the private sector you will gain in only a couple years the experience it may take 5 years to get at the fed. You seem motivated and I just think you will be better rewarded intellectually and professionally in the private sector. Just me two cents. Good luck!
  15. Our T&M TO contains FAR 52.244.-2 subcontracts. We are contemplating adding a subcontractor for a very small effort, likely less than $50k. We were initially considering adding a consultant to contribute to the work (and invoice on a labor hour basis) but the scope has evolved a bit and a subcontract is the better route. A consultant would have, according to the contract, required written approval. However, my reading of the Subcontracts clause is that written approval would not be needed for a FFP subk under the SAT. Am I correct? We already indicated to the CO our intent to utilize the consultant, but since we no longer will be going that route I want to proceed accordingly and let the CO know what has changed (but it doesn't seem we actually need written approval any longer). Thanks!
  16. We initially thought we were going to utilize just one individual in a consulting role due to this person's subject matter expertise. A role which wouldn't assist in the completion of deliverables but rather providing guidance and oversight in their respective field. But that evolved into the need for several employees (of this company) to take the lead in and assist in the completion of key TO tasks. Had we used the stuck to the initial plan, while it would have still gone through a company, by definition of the TO, it would have been consistent for us to refer to it as a "consultant" agreement to utilize this person. I know this probably is still not clear or logical. So let me try to rephrase my initial question. The Subcontracts clause does not, in my reading, require CO approval for this piddly "subcontract" we are contemplating. Since approval is not "required" do you go ahead and execute this subk all on your own and wait until the CO sees the backup come through on an invoice. This doesn't seem like overly transparent though is compliant. Or do you say hey, we are doing this even though we don't need approval but just wanted to let you know and get your blessing anyway? Or do you go full bore and get the approval even though you know it's not actually needed.
  17. Thank you for your response. It is a non NASA or Coast Guard civilian agency but the subk will neither exceed the SAT nor 5% of the TO value. We don't have an approved purchasing system but I don't see anything that would require consent from the CO based on the language in 52.244-2 since its so small. We've already sort of initiated the request (for the consultant) but since it will now be such a small ffp subk I want to be transparent as we are no longer pursuing the consultant agreement but rather the subcontract.
  18. For several reasons, we are considering changing our travel policy for government contracts from a travel cost reimbursement method to a fixed per diem. We are opting to allot M&IE according to per diem and reimburse lodging at actual cost to our client. Can anyone share their experiences updating their travel policies as Ive described or any potential best practices? In addition to our written company policy, should anything else be updated? For existing/continuing government contracts, where our previous policy was submitted as part of the proposal, do we need consent or a modification to implement this change? We would no longer be submitting detailed receipts with the invoices (for meals but still lodging) but instead using the daily M&IE/lodging.
  19. Vern and H2H I’m very sorry for the delayed reply I had to travel last minute and only just found time to respond. To answer’s Vern’s questions and provide a more clear picture of our situation – I would consider our travel pretty typical (I think there is such a thing, Vern) and primarily involves domestic travel to attend kick-off meetings, site visits, steering committee meetings, etc. So by no means is it extensive, but can involve a few trips per year for some contracts involving a few people. It’s not always the same destinations so wherever the contract requires us to be we go. I really don’t see any risks to our federal customers because we’ve always used gsa per diem as an estimate in our proposals, but billed based on actual as I described. If anything, I think it would be a good thing for them since they won’t have to sift through pages and pages of receipts. In turn, we won't have the administrative burden either. I reviewed our contracts and what they say about travel. Most say some combination of “travel costs will be reimbursed in accordance with Federal Travel Regulations and the contractor’s policies”. There are several different wordings but I read them to say the contractor can invoice travel in accordance with their policy so long as it also aligns with FTR. I don’t see anything that indicates any of the proposals are actually incorporated into the contract so based on the contract, I think either way should be allowable and really don’t foresee too much heartburn from the customer. Just didn’t know, given the lack of any restrictive travel language, whether it is recommended to get the govt’s blessing before ceasing to submit travel expenses as we are currently doing. I realize this will have implications with rewriting policies, educating employees, job costing etc. H2H I really appreciate your insights also. We were not expecting to need any outside consulting but I will send you a PM so we can discuss the possibility of going that route
  20. HHS Salary Rate Limitation

    Navy, I'm afraid I will have to be the first to contradict you (somewhat) that someone who is paid $144,000 for 600 hours is not actually getting paid a "rate" which exceeds $200k because, for purposes of this clause, "rate" seems to be defined as the gross direct salary costs (excluding fringe, OH, G&A) incurred annually. At least that's what I'm going with today (and I think mrsbadexample is also on board). I think the disparity in the interpretation of this clause is proof it's poorly written and leads to unnecessary confusion.
  21. HHS Salary Rate Limitation

    I appreciate the additional info. It seems to me that maintaining compliance with this clause, as a contractor, would be a bit of a moving target. That is, if someone earning a salary which far exceeds the cap charges to several different accounts such as business development or PTO, they would have to be cognizant of how much direct salary has been actually charged to the contract. If we're in agreement that the scenario described above is allowable, I've seen this clause misinterpreted on both sides. COs think a contractor can only propose a salary up to the salary rate limitation (say 200k) when in fact this person may allocate substantial hours to indirect accounts thereby making their effective "direct" salary far less than their current salary may dictate. On the other hand, contractors have withheld billable salary costs far in advance of knowing whether the costs would actually exceed the limitation. Anyway, not trying to beat a dead horse here. If anyone has any objections to the above interpretations or different experience with this clause I would be interested in hearing it. Still curious in how others have worked around the part about not using contract funds to pay for the portion of a person's salary above the limitation. Seems like an awful lot of ambiguity for a clause which could have substantial implications under a services contract.
  22. HHS Salary Rate Limitation

    I found this old thread and, since it didn't seem any conclusions were previously reached, wanted to see if anyone has had any more experience or more clear guidance on this topic. I am wondering about the proper application of this clause on either FFP, T&M, or CR contracts and how folks have administered it internally or how it's been enforced by COs. For instance, staff that make $200k plus and still charge to contracts. I used to think this was fairly straightforward but now I'm not so sure. The guidance on the HHS site is clear as mud http://www.hhs.gov/asfr/ogapa/acquisition/salary-rate-limitation-qa.html As an example, what if someone makes, say, $500k per year. At the end of the year, this person charges 1,200 hours to OH, takes 600 hours of PTO, and another 600 of direct labor to a federal contract (roughly $144k). In this scenario, the portion of their (direct) salary paid with federal funds would be less than the Executive Salary Rate limitation. Also, how do you determine what portion of a person's salary was paid with federal funds in this scenario on a FFP contract?
  23. I've been researching the items required to process a mod to an existing gsa schedule price list. When requesting to add items to an approved SIN, for example ODCs or incidental items, does an entire new CSP need to be submitted? I want to avoid submitting an incomplete request but I'm unsure of the items beyond a detailed justificaiton, price quotes for the items, updated price list, etc. Does anyone have any experience with this?
  24. That makes sense thanks for the quick reply
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