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About Junius

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  1. Remove arbitrary and ambiguous distinctions between "clarifications" and "discussions" that inhibit contracting officers from appropriately and fairly communicating with offerors after receipt of proposals.
  2. I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on that. When I was getting my MBA ten years ago, the thought process was that the primary responsibility of a business is shareholder return. Has that always been the case?
  3. The offeror provided information that indicated that most of their staff is composed of employees with a relatively low retention rate. I think it's reasonable for the agency to consider that a risk regardless of whether or not the concern is employees changing jobs or retiring. This is just my viewpoint. The Merriam-Webster defintion of ageism is: "prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly." If ageism is a particular concern for the elderly, then I think it's possible what may be viewed as reasonable on the basis of a younger age may not be considered reasonable on the basis of an older age. In addition, I think there tends to be a bias with respect to attributing certain characteristics to millennials as if those characteristics are unique and/or inherent to millennials. For instance, is higher turnover a characteristic specific to their generation, or is it a characteristic of *any* generation that comprises the youngest portion of the workforce? Anecdotally, I have a millennial co-worker who entered the workforce at age 24 and, by age 28, was already on her third job. In that four year period she was caught up in two corporate mergers resulting in layoffs.
  4. Reasonable exercise of agency discretion. For whatever reason the protester's proposal writer saw fit to include statistical information on an arbitrary and essentially meaningless demographic. I don't see anything in the evaluation criteria that would have required them to provide information organized in that manner. That said, I think the GAO may have viewed the agency's decision differently if the proposal/evaluation were based on retention and replacement of aging baby boomers instead of millennials.
  5. Why is the Govt so cliquish?

    What criteria do you use to buy services? Are you in the habit of hiring felons without experience relevant to the service you require?
  6. CPARS comments

    Based on my experience, contractors commonly assume that they should automatically receive a rating above Satisfactory because they've exceeded the performance standards in the contract. The problem with this is that the justification for Very Good or Exceptional ratings require three things -- see Table 42-1 in the FAR: 1. Identification of a significant event (or multiple events) 2. Statement of how that event was a benefit to the Government 3. No identified significant weaknesses According to this standard under the Schedule rating area, for instance, a deliverable you provide X days early may not merit an above Satisfactory rating if the deliverable was not a significant event or, if it was a significant event, did not provide a benefit to the Government. If you disagree with the Assessing Official's ratings, I don't think it's effective to assume that the Assessing Official just plain got it wrong because chances are they won't agree with you and neither will the Reviewing Official. It's more effective to assert that either the information included in the narrative was not factual (if that is indeed the case) or there was supplementary information not considered. In either of those cases, identify the significant event and state its benefit to the Government.
  7. Thanks for your responses. I'm glad that, at least with respect to this subject, I'm not going crazy. If the interplay between FAR 12 and FAR 13 with other parts of the FAR were better understood or expressed more clearly, it would save me a lot of time and frustration.
  8. On Netflix I’ve been watching a show related to people allegedly providing false confessions. Sometimes the false confessions are elicited because the subject has been so psychologically broken down that they begin to believe they actually committed the crime. I think I’m having one of these moments as it relates to Government contracting. It’s about provisions and clauses. My (admittedly journeyman) understanding of the FAR is that apparently unambiguous prescriptions that a provision or clause applies to “all solicitations and contracts” is frustrated by FAR 12.301(d) when acquiring commercial items. For instance, I do not include FAR 52.243-1 (Alt III) in my solicitation for a fixed-price requirement for professional services because the service is commercial and “Changes” are already described in FAR 52.212-4(c), which is actually required in all commercial solicitations and contracts. When the GS-14 Procurement Analyst returns my solicitation with a recommendation that I include FAR 52.243-1 (Alt III) in my solicitation, it’s a relatively simple task for me to explain my position once I have finished lamenting the fact that I am not a GS-14 Procurement Analyst. I no longer think your average Frog (as Pepe would say) completely understands the meaning of the word “Notwithstanding.” Where it becomes trickier is with a provision or clause that does not necessarily have an “equivalent” commercial provision or clause. Now, I understand this is a DFARS clause, but take 252.225-7048, Export-Controlled Items, for example. My understanding of DFARS Case 2011-D056 is that DFARS 212.301(f) was implemented in its current form to represent a complete list of the DFARS provisions and clauses that are applicable to the acquisition of commercial items. In other words, if a DFARS provision or clause is not listed in DFARS 212.301(f), it is not applicable to the acquisition of commercial items. Where I begin to question my sanity is whenever I go to award my commercial, firm-fixed-price services contract. I send my contract award to be validated against the Procurement Data Standard (PDS) and, unfortunately, I receive an error that I have failed to include DFARS 252.225-7048 in my contract award. According to its prescription, 252.225-7048 is required in “all solicitations and contracts” which the PDS error message also helpfully reminds me. However, it’s not listed as applicable to the acquisition of commercial items in DFARS 212.301(f), nor does it include handy-dandy language in the prescription specifically referencing applicability to FAR part 12 as do most DFARS provisions and clauses listed in DFARS 212.301(f). Therefore, I interpret that this clause does not, in fact, apply to my contract. If I fail to include it, however, I will inevitably end up on a naughty list with a command from above to modify my contract to include the clause, and shame on me for willfully ignoring the PDS. As I understand it, PDS is implemented by DPAP. Clearly, I think DPAP has it wrong on this one as well as with DFARS 252.203-7002, where I received the same error. However, I’m so broken down by the unending tsunami of data calls, reports, reviews, requests, templates, instructions, validations, and audits that I’m not sure I can think anymore. But maybe that’s the goal. Have I lost it? Is my approach to provisions and clauses relating to the acquisition of commercial items sound? J
  9. The Problem of Proposal-Based Competition

    True contracting professionals have lost creative control. Management and lawyers are so risk averse that you are mandated to use cookie-cutter templates for which the contracting officer only completes "fill-in" portions of the award/solicitation template. There's no creative thinking or an individualized, tactical approach to anything because that is inherently risky. Where does that aversion to risk come from, and how do we change it?
  10. Contracting Scandals

    Is it just me, or is this scandal getting relatively little fanfare given its overall size and how many high-ranking civilians/military officers were ensnared by it? I've talked to typically informed folks outside of the government who are apparently completely unaware of this scandal, yet they were able to tell me all about the GSA conference scandal from a few years back.
  11. DOD's Section 809 Advisory Panel

    Evidently this panel has produced a draft proposal for a "Streamlined Procurement Procedure" that pertains to "awards of $10 million or less" and is currently putting together a roundtable of representatives from various DoD agencies to discuss/provide feedback on the procedure. The proposal describing the new procedure was provided to the entire contracting workforce in my agency. The proposal is pretty awful.
  12. Let me be more specific with my question. I’ll preface with a statement: Logically, if a small business concern truly provides best value for a specific acquisition, they will receive the contract award regardless of whether or not the acquisition is set-aside for small business concerns. Therefore, by setting aside acquisitions for small business, the Government, at best, only matches the value that it would receive under full and open competition, but there’s also the chance that the Government receives sub-optimal value. What evidence do we have that small business preference programs provide enough surplus benefit to overcome this issue, or are taxpayers subsidizing small business concerns at the expense of the economy as a whole? I am specifically interested to know if there is a study that addresses this question or something similar to it. I’m not interested in *any* study. The relative tax burden of small businesses and corporations don’t tell me whether or not taxpayers, as a whole, derive a net-positive economic benefit from FAR 19. I want data, not rhetoric.
  13. While we're on the subject, can we get rid of FAR 19 and the applicable sections of its statutory basis? I'll settle for a study on whether or not the policies implemented through FAR 19 provide a net macroeconomic benefit.
  14. Software Maintenance - IT Brand Name

    Step back and think about what you’re actually purchasing for a moment. If this is a typical commercial software maintenance requirement, you’re not actually purchasing individual bug fixes, updates, etc directly. What you’re actually purchasing is a subscription for a fixed period of time (typically one year) that provides access to the bug fixes, updates, etc. The contractor’s priced deliverable would be the subscription itself, usually priced per software license/user. Again, this is assuming we’re talking about a typical commercial software maintenance requirement. What you’ve been told makes no sense. You can have multiple deliverables under a single contract, all of which could be covered by a single brand name J&A. Even if you had multiple contracts, you could potentially write a class J&A. What would make sense to me is if what you were told relates specifically to the renewal of software maintenance subscriptions. If you don’t include options on your software maintenance contract for future annual renewals, you’ll need to award a new contract each year to renew the subscription. Each iteration of the contract would require its own brand name J&A.
  15. For the purpose of the question at hand, whether or not the employee is covered by DBA insurance does not concern me. I am specifically concerned with whether or not the Act applies.