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Everything posted by MGRumbaugh

  1. Gray Areas

    Gray areas are those where there is subjectivity in the decision-making. It doesn't mean a lack of training, knowledge or experience. For example, selecting a contract type. There is no "one right" answer for every situation; it's subjective. (Unless it's a commercial item.) The U.S. Navy’s A-12 aircraft contract is an infamous example of selecting the wrong contract type. In 1984, the navy awarded two teams fixed-price contracts for concept formulation and demonstration validation. Even though the initial contract results from the concept formulation phase indicated that the design was immature, the navy awarded McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics a full-scale engineering and development contract to develop the A-12, a stealth aircraft. Another gray area is best value/tradeoff source selection. How much more are you willing to spend to get better quality? Do you have the budget for it? The Govt can spend more for higher quality, but they need to justify and document that decision. No one right answer exists. You and I do this every day as consumers. We spend more (or not) for quality and it's a subjective decision--a gray area. Vague terms in a contract also lend themselves to being gray. What's an "acceptable manner?" Who decides what's an acceptable manner? It's a subjective decision, but we see that phrase a lot in contracts. Yes, there are laws, regulations and rules; but there is also subjectivity in the decision making process. That's why training, education, and experience are so important in contract management.
  2. Contracting Salary in Industry

    Be careful about the lure of a higher salary when moving to the private sector. Having worked in both the federal government and private industry sides of the contract management profession, I can tell you that many contracting professionals in private industry are working much longer hours than their contemporaries in the federal government. That's not to say that govt employees don't work hard! In private industry, however, the extra hours are typically uncompensated--no comp time either. If you're working on proposals, say goodbye to your social life. The last company I worked for as an employee (large, fortune 500 contractor) they treated me like they owned me because I got a paycheck. Although they liked the fact that I taught night classes at UVA in the interview, they didn't like that it meant I couldn't stay late working for them. It was not a good work environment, either. So I left and started my on consulting practice. I've never looked back. Although you might get paid more, you will most likely lose flexibility and control of your work schedule. As another post noted, some companies don't keep employees after the contract is over or if the proposal doesn't win the contract. Good luck!
  3. In April, 2010, Shay Assad issued a memorandum with a draft of the Joint Analysis Team's new and improved source selection process for review and comment. The goal of the new procedure is to provide a framework to standardize the source selection rating process, increase senior leader oversight, strengthen documentation requirements and increase communication with industry. I've seen various powerpoint briefings, eg: Air Force and Army, but not the final report. Does anyone know when the final is going to be issued? Are copies available? Thanks! Marge
  4. Tanker Deal - Competition in Contracting

    Vern, Thanks for you kind words and plug for my book. Now that I'm teaching online for UVA I bang my head against the computer and it doesn't hurt as much as banging it against the wall. Hopefully I haven't become as cynical as the previous poster alleges. I'd like to think that writing a book and teaching puts me in the category of actively trying to make things better. We'll see... Thanks again, Marge
  5. Tanker Deal - Competition in Contracting

    Sorry if my words upset you. But this "competition" illustrates the importance of getting back to basics in source selection such as conducting market research and writing evaluation criteria. When we have only one viable contender in the game it's not full and open competition by any stretch of the imagination. Thus, my phrase "illusion of competition." No, it has not always been this way. There has been a significant erosion of skilled and qualified professionals capable of conducting major source selections since the acquisition streamiling reforms of the 1990s. Workforce issues and training have been discussed in this forum, so that's not just my opinion. It simply becomes more visible with larger, highly publicized acquisitions. No, Druyon is decidely NOT what happens all the time. But we still need a high caliber workforce to make this system effective.
  6. Tanker Deal - Competition in Contracting

    I agree with Vern that there is zero chance the Russian firm could win the contract. But if they submit a proposal at least we still have the illusion of competition. At this stage, we just need to get a contract awarded. The existing tankers are on their last leg and replacements are past due.
  7. Source Selection

    I can recommend the University of Virginia's Source Selection course (PC4260). This summer the class is offered on-line so you can take it no matter where you live. It will use a brand new textbook, "Understanding Government Contract Source Selection" authored by yours truly. To see what we'll cover in the course, click this link: http://www.managementconcepts.com/portal/s...&userID=238 Program Contact Northern Virginia Center Russell Lentner Email: rlentner@virginia.edu Telephone: 703-536-1127 / 1-800-678-4882 To see other online courses available, click http://www.scps.virginia.edu/certificates/procurement.php I am an alum of this program and have been teaching for UVA for years. It's a good program and with the online option offers a lot of flexibility. Marge
  8. Insourcing contractor acquisition support

    I signed a contract with a non-compete clause in it. The prime prohibited me from working directly for their customer (govt agency) for 2 yrs. The agency was tired of paying the prime's pass-thru charges to get my services and wanted to contract directly with me. Prime said no and threatened both of us with legal action. I had no idea these conversations were even taking place! At the end of my contract and in the middle of a 2-week training class, my client wanted to renew my contract. I said no because of the non-compete restriction. I wanted to start the clock on that 2-yr time restriction. They tried to find another qualified instructor to teach the rest of the class, but the agency didn't approve their selection. I told the prime I'd renew the contract as long as they would waive the 2-yr non-compete restriction. They were in a bind and needed my services to complete the class. I taught the class and went on to work directly for that agency. The prime in this case no longer does. The point of this experience is that these clauses are negotiable even after the fact.
  9. Dissertation research topic search

    Consider addressing the consequences of the 1102 downsizing during the 1990s acquisition reform movement and its imact on the acquisition workforce now. Do we have adequate senior leadership to do on the job training for complex competitions?
  10. Vern, Thanks for the sympathy. I didn't say the agency was obligated to consider the information, but that they may do so if they wanted. Nor did I suggest that they take the information submitted by a competitor at face value. I stated that they should consider the source and confirm the information. Looks like we agree.
  11. Thomas, The additional information changes the situation. If the agency's evaluation is complete and identified the apparent successful offeror, then I would say the agency does not need to re-evaluate and consider the new information. If, however, the new information is serious enough to warrant cosideration, then the agency may do so. That's part of the flexibility the FAR provides. If the agency considers the information, you must also consider the source: a disgruntled offeror. Is this information factual? If you verify that it's true-- is it significant enough to overturn the award decision? The agency must also give the offeror an opportunity to respond to the negative past performance information. Maybe the offeror has addressed the issue and it won't happen again. Make sure that whatever you do is consistent with the solicitation. If you go back and re-evaluate it needs to be consistent with the past performance evaluation criteria stated in the RFP and conducted with all other offerors. How much time will this assessment take and will it impact the agency in any way? Is it worth the extra time to make sure the awardee is capable of performing? There's always a risk of protest no matter which way you go with this. But protesting doesn't mean they'll win.
  12. Past Performance Evaluation

    If evaluators haven't been able to find anyone who can evaluate the key person's experience, I agree with Joel's suggestion to get a reference from the offeror. Can they confirm if the key person worked there at all? Or is it a situation where the staff isn't willing to talk about this person's performance? You may want to let them know that their responses won't be revealed to the offeror. Some may be concerned about lawsuits or backlash about discussing a former employee's performance. Some confusion about your post. First you state that there's significant mgmt experience in the work required by the RFP, then you state that it's questionable if the experience is relevant. Which is it? With regard to risk, seems to me you've tried to evaluate the performance. The evaluation documentation should state who you contacted, when, etc and document the record of due diligence. The risk is that this person never worked there or did a poor job and people aren't willing to discuss it. Since it's a past performance eval, you could evaluate it as neutral since you can't confirm that experience. In the case of an offeror...for whom information on past performance is not available, the offeror maynot be evaluated favorably or unfavorably on past performance. See FAR 15.305(a)(2)(iv).
  13. Offerors frequently know (or suspect) who the competition is and can use this information in their proposal. It's so common there's actually a term for it, "ghosting." By ghosting, the offeror will highlight their solutions strengths while emphasizing their competitors weaknesses. It's not unlike the charts you see in commercial advertising for over-the-counter cold medicine. Our product takes care of these symptoms while the competitor's products don't. The agency has the discretion to consider this information. "Where a solicitation contemplates the evaluation of vendors? past performance, the agency has the discretion to determine the scope of the performance history to be considered, provided all quotations are evaluated on the same basis and the evaluation is consistent with the terms of the solicitation." Paragon Systems, Inc., B-299548.2 Have you confirmed that what the competitor submitted is factual? FAR 15.305(a)92)(i) states that the agency should also consider the source of the information and context of the data in the evaluation. The agency also has the obligation to permit that offeror an opportunity to respond to the negative past performance reference. The best place to do the research on what works is this WIFCON site. Click on the contents tab and look up FAR Part 15. Scroll down to the past performance section and you'll see a summary of relevant case law. FAR 15.305(a)(ii) states that the Government shall consider information obtained from any other source, but does not address timing. Presumably the evaluators are obtaining information on their own after the proposal submission deadline as well. The FAR is loose on the subject to permit flexibility. The agency needs to do a little research to find the negative because offerors are only going to submit past performance information that shows their strengths. In order to find out negative information, you need to do some research and you can use other sources to get that information. Hope this helps!
  14. Insourcing contractor acquisition support

    I agree and have seen the practice of hiring retirees as consultants or employees in directed subcontracts. Not sure that I agree with the statement about federal salaries being cometitive, but I guess that depends on your geographic location. Some new hires just stick around the agency long enough to get up to speed and then jump ship to work at contractor's--attracted by higher salaries. Then the agency never gets an experienced workforce and has to train new hires over and over again.
  15. Metics of performance question

    Glad you mentioned the ASTM standard. ASTM is always a good place to start with standards research. You have to pay for the resources, but they have an excellent reputation for high quality, peer reviewed & unbiased standards.
  16. Basic Agreements and Individual Orders

    The simple answer to your question is "No" there's no monetary limit to contract changes. However, we all know that contract administration isn't simple. so I'll try to summarize what you need to consider. First, is the proposed change really within the scope of work? How can you tell? This is where it gets complicated and the lawyers step in. Here are some considerations for determining if a change is within scope: 1. The function of the item hasn't changed. 2. The basic contract purpose hasn't 'changed 3. The magnitude of funds requested for the change is proportionate to the price or estimated cost of the original contract 4. Specification or SOW changes are not extensive. 5. Does the changed work represent what both parties reasonably contemplated at award? 6. Is the changed work essentially the same as was bargained for? 7. Is the nature of the requirement altered by the change? 8. Would this type of change normally be expected for this kind of requirement? So you see determining within scope is the crux of the issue and that's not simple. Even if you and the CO agree that the change is within scope a competitor might not, especially if it's going to be a substantial sum of money. The competitor could protest that it should be a new, competitively awarded contract. Thus, the CO needs to determine if the work should be done under the existing contract or a new competition. You may want to review this guidance from FAI on contract modifications http://www.fai.gov/pdfs/Unit52.pdf
  17. I'm glad that your experience with payment from prime contractors is better than mine. As a small business subcontractor I frequently did not get paid until after the prime received their payment. They may not have been the "preferred" customer, but small businesses don't always have the luxury of picking and choosing customers. Now, I'm in a position to decline business from companies who don't have prompt/reliable payment habits. But I'm sorry to say that there are companies out there who don't pay small business subcontractors promptly.
  18. Economical LPTA

    I didn't say it was required; I said it was a good idea to play it safe. At least we agree on that. However, I interpret (3) in your post as applying to all proposals. That's why I think it's a good idea to state up front that you may not evaluate all proposals. Just my interpretation.
  19. Economical LPTA

    I prefer the "better safe than sorry" approach and think that it's a good idea to state that you're using the economical LPTA approach in the solicitation.
  20. Contractor or Vendor

    Interesting distinction Navy_Contracting! New question: Since vendor pay locations are closing, will they continue to make a distinction between contract and vendor pay?
  21. Economical LPTA

    I agree with Vern, LindaK and oldarmy, but disagree with Don Acquisition. The RFP should state this approach because FAR 15.101-2 states: Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors. It doesn't state that proposals with a higher evaluated price aren't evaluated. Based on this language, I think not evaluating proposals is risky without some language in the RFP letting offerors know up front. Following up on oldarmy's post: FAR 15.506 states that the CO needs to identify significant weaknesses and deficiencies and you won't be able to do that without first evaluating the proposals. How would you provide reasonable responses to their questions? However, if the RFP states up front that if the lowest evaluated price is technically acceptable as stated in jtolli's post then I think it would be OK to not evaluate the other proposals. That way the offerors would know that they may not get more information in the debriefing and could fend off a protest at mike-wolff observed. If they found out at the debriefing that technical proposals weren't evaluated, then they'd probably protest. Might not win, but they'd protest.
  22. Your question begins with the statement "contract payment terms notwithstanding," but does not identify what those terms are. Is your company following the payment terms? If the prime isn't following those terms, why? Are there problems with the deliverables in terms of quality or timeliness that might cause delayed payments? Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Prompt Payment Act does not provide for late interest penalties for payments made to subcontractors. Prime contractors typically pay subcontractors after they receive payment from the Govt and you have no visibility as to when that happens. Under construction contracts, however, an agency may withhold payment to a prime vendor if they learn that the prime vendor has failed to pay their subcontractor in accordance to the terms of their contract. See http://fms.treas.gov/prompt/questions.html#rule for more Prompt Payment Q&A Was the subcontract awarded pursuant to a small business subcontracting plan in the prime's contract? If so, FAR 19.702 states that it's the policy of the U.S. that its prime contractors establish procedures to ensure the timely payment of amounts due pursuant to the terms of their subcontracts with small business... You could gently remind the prime of their payment obligation. If the prime contract is an award fee contract and "subcontract management" is one of the areas evaluated in the award fee plan, then you could let the CO know that there's a payment issue. But be careful here. Is this a chronic problem that's affecting the company's cash flow to the degree that you can't make payroll? Or is it an occasional annoyance? Remember there's no privity of contract between you and the Govt, and contacting the CO might not work. The CO may tell you to go away or they might ding the prime. If the CO dings the prime over your call, they will not be pleased. So you need to decide if it's worth "biting the hand that feeds you." Hope this helps, MGR
  23. weighting of price in evaluations

    Typically the closer the technical & past performance scores are, the more important the price becomes. But, is this a tradeoff or lowest price technically acceptable source selection? If it's a cost reimbursement contract type, the govt will conduct a cost realism analysis (FAR 15.404-1(d). So they'll look at the cost elements to see if they're realistic for the work performed. Then they'll come up with a probable cost that reflects their best estimate of what it'll cost and use that in the evaluation to determine best value. Incumbents don't always win competitions. Sometimes they become complacent and make mistakes in the proposal, so you still have a chance. Good luck! MGR
  24. developing government estimate

    This came out after the posting, but thought you might find it helpful. GAO developed the Cost Estimating Guide book in order to establish a consistent methodology that is based on best practices and that can be used across the federal government for developing, managing, and evaluating capital program cost estimates.Click this link to download the pdf book (over 400 pages!) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d093sp.pdf Hope this helps! MGR