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Everything posted by cdhames

  1. Seems like there's a trend to just award any kind of commercial service requirement as a Purchase Order nowadays, as long as it meets the threshold prescribed in FAR 13.5. I'm currently at a location now that's executed all of their primary base service contracts as P types. Grounds, Custodial, every standard service contract that a traditional contracting office might normally execute as a c-type, is now a 5-year purchase order (with 1 year options). When I ask why, I generally receive the same answer: because it's easier. Why do FAR 15, when you can go 13.5? I can't honestly say i've been able to find anything in the FAR that says they can't do it that way either. It's a little weird, (i personally feel its lazy) but i can't really find fault with it in terms of anything specific in the FAR that says, no, you must do a C-Type contract when contemplating x, y, z. In the end, I guess if you do an RFP under 13, or a solicitation under 15, the end result is the same: a contract. And whether it's P, or C, is just a meaningless designation. As a forum of last resort, I wanted to ask here. Am I missing something in the FAR that can clearly delineate when to use what type? If there is already a clear topic on this subject, please post the reference and i'd be happy to read through, thanks.
  2. Good morning. Our contract writing system (SPS) does not sort provisions to the bottom of the document (after documents, exhibits and attachments- as indicated at 12.303(d)) and I've been browsing FBO since yesterday and have yet to find a contract organized as specified in 12.303. So I'm just curious, but does "anyone" actually follow the format in FAR 12.303 when preparing the SF 1449?
  3. That's interesting, a lot of the pass/fail criteria that I see out-and-about such as on FBO generally lead to nothing. So what I understand you're saying is that a gate leads into the evaluation of a related factor. For example, you can't have a technical pass/fail criterion that leads into a past performance evaluation; rather, that technical pass/fail gate has to lead into a relevant technical evaluation (i.e., you must address all five bullet points of XX Technical Plan in order to be evaluated for technical acceptability)? That makes a sort of logical sense.
  4. Thank you Vern as always. Can we build pass/fail gates outside of evaluation factors? For example, we evaluate price/cost for fair and reasonableness, and then set up technical criterion as pass/fail (assuming there are other complex Technical or PP Factors to evaluate afterward?
  5. For those familiar with DoD Source Selection Procedures, what is a "gate"? The DoD Source Selection Procedures refer to "gates" twice, in paragraphs 2.3.3; and under Appendix A Topic Area 4: (i), both in reference to "go/no go" or pass/fail criteria. The guide doesn't actually define what a "gate" is. The Guide defines "Quality of Product or Service" as any non-cost factor including past performance. It then defines "technical" as any non-cost factor other than past-performance. Go/No Go is mentioned 3 times in the DoD Source Selection Guide, in para, in relation to critical requirements that are subjectively evaluated; and again in 2.3.3. stating solicitations may contain Go/No Go "Gates" as criteria. It's a little confusing. My question is, is a "Gate" a Factor? Or is a "Gate" just some bit of specified, non-complex criteria that's used anywhere in the evaluation process exactly as it's common usage implies? For example, if you're evaluating a Technical Factor, can a Gate be built into the Factor, or does the pass/fail criteria exist outside of Factors?
  6. Does it matter how often it exceeds $25,000? Let's say it exceeds $25,000, 5 times a year, which is 25% of the average total, historical data available so 20 times a year a rupture or flooding occurs inside a facility (this is just pure scenario by the way).
  7. Hi Vern. I'm not really asking for a full Source Selection Plan and AP. We're just spitballing a scenario that I haven't found a decent answer to. I have asked this scenario among my peers in my office and haven't received an answer I think is sufficient because it doesn't address the limitations of the FAR. I also think I've provided enough information, other than agency which you could have assumed to be DoD since I mention bases. Other than that, what do you need? It's a water pipe inside a facility that burst. Let's narrow it down to just water damage. Would that be better? Tomorrow, someone could leave a faucet plugged and overnight a building could flood. I've given you the dollar value, under the SAT. I've given you the response time, 2-4 hours. I've given you quantity and delivery: undefined. By the way I'm not auditioning for prime time, thank you. Just asking a question in the beginners forum, because I'd like to learn from my fellow peers and experts. You've said it yourself, the state of our acquisition community is aweful. Wifcon, however, is a repository for the expertise we seem to be missing and if you'd allow us to ask questions and allow others to provide mentorship (right or wrong) that might improve the community somewhat.
  8. Let's say above the micropurchase but below the SAT. Sorry I should have input this somewhere above.
  9. How would a requirements contract be appropriate in this situation? Wouldn't an agency still have to issue a task order within 2-4 hours (midnight, Saturday)? I understand this, but I still have to comply with FAR 13.303-5(c) and (d) which would take time. I think my question remains, how do you craft an agreement, or contracting "vehicle" that allows for execution within 2-4 hours on a Saturday at midnight when the delivery and quantity are undefined? Let's continue to use the example of a water pipe bursting at midnight, and assume remediation is required immediately.
  10. jwomack, that seems in direct contradiction to FAR 13.303-5(c) and (d).
  11. well, let's assume historical workload and pricing wouldn't be a concern. Under a Requirements contract, how would you award a TO within 4 hours starting at 12AM on a Saturday?
  12. That would be the natural assumption since both delivery and quantity are unknown (assuming single award). The problem is that TO's couldn't be consistently issued with a 2-4 hour response time. What if something broke on a Saturday or at Midnight? The contractor is going to be required to be on call 24/7 to meet the 2-4 hour window but how do you issue a TO against it? Do you park money on an annual TO? I don't think a C type service contract would be appropriate either (disregarding that fact that quantity and delivery are an unknown). What kind of unit of issue would you use? We've just been debating the scenario back and forth and no one's been able to propose a good answer. Someone suggested a 5 year BPA to meet the "long-term" requirement but as in the IDV example, you either do a single award with J&A (assuming FAR 13.5 above SAT) to comply with the emergency nature and 2-4 hour response time, or are compelled to get competition which you would then be unable to comply with the 2-4 hour response time. Thoughts?
  13. How would one structure a long-term emergency services vehicle for the remediation/restoration of facilities (for example a water pipe rupturing)? The contractor would need to arrive within 2-4 hours after notification and immediately begin restoration service. Let's say an incident occurs on a Saturday and base services are not available (other than to shut off the flow of water). The only way I can think of doing this would be foregoing the "long-term" portion and single sourcing a BPA to a vendor 12 months at a time. Anyone have experience under a similar requirement?
  14. I'm not new to federal contracting but I thought this would be a good place to ask this question, and hope that in some eyes, I'm not overcomplicating things. I've often ascribed the borrowing of FAR Part procedures as the borrowing of a section of a FAR but I've been asked whether that's accurate and didn't have a good enough answer. For example someone in my office wants to borrow 1 line from part 15 in a FAR Part 13 acquisition. My answer was that they're borrowing the evaluation procedure, not the evaluation sentence under FAR Part 15 yada yada. But then I'm asked what the definition of a procedure is and I didn't have an answer. It's not defined under FAR Part 2. So my question is, what is a procedure in the context of using a "combination of procedures" from any parts of the FAR to craft an acquisition?
  15. If the basis of labor cost is lower than that of the prevailing wage, the estimate wouldn't appear to be accurate IMO. If we require a contractor to use RS Means, and labor cost is $10 dollars, and the bare cost is $20; and the prevailing wage is $20, and material is $10, but the contractor proposes $20 as required (based on RS Means), is that fair? What contractors tell me is that they normally pad labor cost (extra quantity) to adjust for the difference. That's fine if a CO wants to accept it like that (his/her decision). I'm just asking if there's a better methodology. I'm sorry if I'm not coming across clearly. What if the contractor has a requirement where they have to propose only labor costs and by contract are required to estimate using RS Means cost data? Or what if there are Non-Priced Items (NPI's) that require a contractor to use RS Means "crew size" cost data to calculate labor cost? Assuming Task Orders are fixed price.
  16. Good morning and happy EOFY16. I'm interested in knowing how other construction teams structure their IDIQs in terms of reconciling RS Means labor rates with Prevailing wage labor rates (assuming RS Means is the required pre-priced UPB required under contract). Here are my assumptions: I've looked through the RS Means cost data labor rates at the back of each cost data book and note that the national union rates are generally up or down, but mostly below prevailing wages. I've noted that RS Means uses a City Cost Index (CCI) to apply a rate adjustment based on locality which is often a rate increase per locale, but often after application, the wage is still under the prevailing wage (under the latest Construction Wage Rate). I understand that using RS Means comes with issues and there is an ongoing debate about whether it saves the Government money (I understand many feel RS Means prices are inflated and does not save the Government money). So I've been perusing SABER IDIQ Specifications/Statement of Works that incorporate RS Means as a UPB and Costworks, or e4Clicks as the estimator (or Timberline for older specs). I see a lot of the specifications request that the contractor use total bare costs, based on national average rates, defined by the RS Means price books. What I hear from contractors is that these rates do not often match the prevailing wages, and so they are forced to provide "extra" labor hours to compensate for the cost of the prevailing wage they are operating under. I've heard it's possible to integrate a custom set of labor rates depending on the estimator a contractor or agency is using (such as plugging in prevailing wage rates in the estimator of choice) but I haven't actually seen this laid out in a Spec/SOW example. My question is, how are your agencies handling this issue (is it a issue?), or is there a generally accepted better method to pre-price construction projects than using RS Means that your agency is using? I admit I may not fully understand all of the issues with using RS Means so please understand I am on the learning curve.
  17. If I could use an example to articulate a request for help: Let's say a DoD agency has a construction requirement for the installation of HVAC. The contractor proposes a "custom" HVAC unit. During negotiations, several elements are negotiated down to "standard" units in order to save on cost. After some reluctance, the contractor agrees to the revised specs at a reduced price. Assume the contractor negotiated in good-faith. Fast forward 6 months. The contractor has substantially completed the effort but states they cannot obtain the efficiency levels with the "standard" units, and cannot locate any other "standard" sources in the market to meet the required efficiency levels. The subject matter experts, after review, also cannot find any "standard" units in the market to meet the required efficiency levels. The CO in charge of the contract asks both parties what is needed to meet the "efficiency levels". Contractor replies only a "custom" HVAC unit. The customer, at this time wants the contractor to comply with the stated efficiency levels. If the Contractor has to eat the cost, then they feel the Contractor has to eat the cost -they agreed afterall to the reduced scope. After lengthy negotiations, the Customer finally agreed to revise the SOW and re-add to it, the original requirements that were removed, due to the fact that neither party can find a "standard" source to meet the efficiency levels. The CO would like to come to a fair and equitable solution. The contractor is operating at a loss now, and has agreed to a further discount on a revised proposal due to their part in not identifying this issue up-front; and has essentially re-proposed the "custom" solution to include additional labor to remove the "standard" units. After another review, the customer has returned to their original position and wants the Contractor to eat the cost. CO has been advised by various parties that this could be a differing site condition, but believe this is really a sourcing issue, on top of poor planning by all parties and is pushing for an equitable solution. Assume things are at an impasse now. Based on the facts as stated, how would you have dealt with/resolved this situation?
  18. joel, I'd be interested in finding out how the USACE handles the DoDi 5000.72 COR requirement as well since they're DoD.
  19. I agree with the sentiment but I'm still not sure I agree with the way you're going about it. FAR Subpart 46.4 discusses the need for a surveillance plan, and how to define them (i.e., the plan should specify all work requiring surveillance; and the method of surveillance). FAR 37.604 is just a reference to FAR Subpart 46.4 as you stated. FAR 46 states that "This part prescribes policies and procedures to ensure that supplies and services acquired under Government contract conform to the contract’s quality and quantity requirements." I have a construction contract with a requirement for quality surveillance, IAW DoDi 5000.72. Assume I plan to appoint a COR. Does Part 46 apply? If you define services acquired under Government contract as non-construction, then no, although I don't know why you wouldn't (we're attempting to define construction in terms of whether Quality Assurance applies, not a clause). But I don't have a right answer here (this is part of my question). If FAR 46 does apply to construction, then the assumption is 46.4 applies as well. In that case, we do need to ensure that services acquired under Government contract conform to the contract's quality requirements, and we should specify work, and method of surveillance. Assuming you don't agree with this line of reasoning, how do your CORs conduct surveillance?
  20. Thank you. I'm not sure how FAR 52.246-12 answers this question in terms of what to use for COR surveillance; particularly when compared to FAR 52.246-4 which essentially states the same thing but for FFP Services. Are you referring to the first paragraph which states, "The Contractor shall maintain an adequate inspection system ..."? Both clauses essentially state that the contractor is responsible for inspection; but that the Government reserves a right to step in and inspect at any time. As far as using specifications for surveillance, I agree; but what specification document are you suggesting? For many construction projects, only Statement of Work and drawings exist, to include mention of any "widely recognized standards or specifications promulgated by governments, industries, or technical societies" as stated by FAR 36.202(b) which opens surveillance up to every published regulatory specification in the U.S. concerning construction. I think this is where a QASP simplifies things -where a COR or QAP (for old) can condense the relevant "widely recognized standards" into a manageable surveillance plan. My question is, is a QASP right for construction? There seems to be no clear guidance on what construction surveillance consists of in the context of appointing a COR.
  21. I'd be interested to know how Operational DoD offices have been handling the surveillance requirements for construction contracts. Under FAR 46.4, - Quality assurance surveillance plans should be prepared in conjunction with the preparation of the statement of work. Under DFARS 246-401 - For contracts for services, the contracting officer should prepare a quality assurance surveillance plan to facilitate assessment of contractor performance, see 237.172. ... (this seems to imply FAR 37 Service contracting - does FAR 37 Service contracting include construction? Under Subpart 37.3 - it discusses Demolition and Construction Wage Rates - it seems the argument on whether Construction contracting can be considered a Service is becoming more obscure, instead of clear). DoDi 5000.72 - Table 2 (Minimum requirements for Types A, B, and C training are described in Tables 2, 3, and 4, respectively.) infers that a Surveillance Plan is required. Perform technical and administrative contract surveillance and reporting responsibilities in accordance with the letter of designation and surveillance plan. However in DoDi 5000.72 - Table 1 it suggests a QASP only under performance-based services (not mentioning a QASP anywhere else in the DoDi). 24. For a performance-based services contract, order, or agreement, perform on-site surveillance in accordance with the QASP Otherwise, the DoDi is silent on surveillance. Does this mean the agency should determine their own surveillance requirements for construction? There doesn't seem to be anything written that says we shouldn't build a QASP in conjunction with construction Statement of Works. But for those that do construction contracting, it seems redundant to do so. In fact, the entire COR designation requirement for construction seems redundant since the majority of Program Managers already perform inspection (blue books, daily inspection logs, etc IAW with their own internal Civil Engineering procedures... which are ultimately handed over to contracting as part of the close-out file). How do your office handle surveillance?
  22. I read the following quote from Vern Edwards today, under a different discussion and I wondered: Should we always make the assumption that our Government SME's are capable in their field? I know this might be a profound (or even unintelligent) statement but... Bear with me a moment. I realize the question might immediately beg for a quick and decisive answer, but my thought is this: Our law and regulation is crafted in such a way that it automatically assumes a sure and competent hand of the Government executes something in a sure and competent manner. There's really no room for error. Our FAR regulation is stated in a specific manner, to be interpreted (for the most part) a specific way and implemented in such a way. Sure, there is sometimes, difficult to discern language but we normally reach consensus on how that something should be interpreted. GAO could loosely be described as such a consensus builder. The Supreme Court as another. My point being, in the general context of day-to-day activities, regulation is somewhat unforgiving. It assumes expertise. Vern's statement above does the same. Now generally I would agree with the sentiment; a Program Manager "should" be able to draft a recently reliable SOW. But in operational reality, most of us know this just isn't the case. Error and fallacy is built into human nature. Awhile back, I read a Quora post by Kostadis Roussos, former Chief Software Engineer at Zynga (article here: https://www.quora.com/Why-would-anyone-want-to-work-for-Zynga ). A short time after Zynga went public their common stock fell off the proverbial cliff, from somewhere around $15 to $2 (where it's been sitting nearly ever since). During the fall, an exodus of talent took place as top executives left the company. Zynga attempted to counter the exodus. Roussos' article on Quora was one such attempt. In the article he discusses market disruption in the field of software engineering in the mid to late 1990's. How one group at MIT who thought provocatively and in a different way about writing software, changed the industry. It's about a 50 year model of determinism that was disrupted by new, randomized thinking. As the context goes, what if software engineers planned for failure? Instead of ignoring failure, and attempting to reduce it through a deterministic model, what if they planned for failure instead, and respond to failure through intelligent modeling. So as a former, aspiring software developer, this article had a profound effect on me and I've since thought back often about it. I look at the FAR now, and the way our Government programs and policies are set up and I can't help but ask, why do we have such a hard time with failure, and wouldn't it be better to plan for it in our acquisitions? To write contracts that attempt to error check and deal with it, instead of forcing failure into the standard model of deterministic outcomes? When I read the quote above, I both agree and disagree at the same time. I'd like Government experts to be experts, but I know the vast majority (myself included) are not; and we make mistakes. Some of us don't know what we don't know yet. Some of us can't write a SOW yet (or we can write one, just not a capable version of one). There's an inflexibility with regard to the incapable, or untrained. A built in intolerance that I think we might be able to redefine. So that might sound a bit lofty, but I'd be interested in starting a discussion on it, in more than a candid fashion. What if we allowed a contractor to write a SOW, or take part in it's development? What are the takeaways? Would it make it better, and would it put the Government in an unfavorable position? I'm not suggesting the contractor write the SOW, and then the Government accept it as is. I'm referring to a collaborative effort. What's best for all parties, the public included.
  23. See FAR 37.602(a) which says: (a) A Performance Work Statement (PWS) may be prepared by the Government or result from a Statement of Objectives (SOO) prepared by the Government where the offeror proposes the PWS. additionally... (c) Offerors use the SOO to develop the PWS; however, the SOO does not become part of the contract. The SOO shall, at a minimum, include— (1) Purpose; (2) Scope or mission; (3) Period and place of performance; (4) Background; (5) Performance objectives, i.e., required results; and (6) Any operating constraints.
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