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FAR-flung 1102

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  1. Accountability Might Need a New Name

    Here is another link, to a "Chain Letter" newsletter from MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/newsletters/chain-letter/
  2. Interview Guidance

    I've thought quite a bit about how it seems this interview/hiring process is best described as a concerted effort at discovering the "best fit" as Vern indicates above. For the interviewee, having the "right answers" to the most frequently asked interview questions might help you get you in the door, but on that score, it may leave you and/or your employer soon feeling that you don't belong there. So, you may want to make a practice on the job and in and out of interviews of being diligent, interested and letting your character and apptitudes show in addition to the experience that already shows in your resume. Additionally, strange as it may sound, I believe we can cheat our own self if we are feel too casual and don't act the part, so I would probably dress as I do for any interview (that means a suit and tie for me) even though it takes place over the phone.
  3. Privatization

    Matthew Fleharty, You're right...i can see that it's sloppy speculation on my part...I took the small excerpt to be a thematic and ran wild with that comment. I hope my speculation proves wrong, and also hope to repair the damage I've done.
  4. Privatization

    I plead guilty. No, I have not read the book.
  5. Privatization

    When monopoly status is a grant, it should be done wisely, even warily. Some monopolies are necessary (regulated utilities and some functions at various levels of government are examples). Some monopolies I view as inherently good (marriage, private property, patents are examples). All monopolies require special care as they are largely exempt from corrective mechanisms of the marketplace. All too often government enjoys an enduring, unearned, and implicit exemption from cares and concerns over its own largely unrecognized monopoly status....And at what cost? I don't think the author has taken this one question seriously and it's the one most worth asking.
  6. Privatization

    Vern, Loosely constructed I think of three categories of things: private property, public property, and public goods, by which I mean externalities such as air, water, and rights or responsibilities in those public goods (for notable examples of management of rights and responsibilities look up riparian rights (the story of the West is largely the story of water) and also look up South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California). Specifically, Privatization is movement from public property to private property or from public goods to private property. Contracts can contribute to this movement. Yes, government is capable of getting fleeced and losing some of our freedom for us, especially by misunderstanding the externalities, the longevity of either or both resources or needs (call them requirements if you will) or by pursuing short term solutions to the long term problem of the commons. In a keen sense, every ethical issue in government is really a concern over privatization. In this way, it constantly looms as an agency problem (to borrow a term from economics) where if unchecked public officials may pursue interests that run counter to the trust and public interest unless carefully managed and subject to ethical standards and review.
  7. IDIQ Decision

    So, absent some additional conditional qualifier such as "when", what Is the imperative meaning of the term "shall" followed by "only if"? Take the example given, what all is the Contracting Officer required to refrain from doing and/or do by the language found at FAR 15.403-4 (a)(1)?
  8. Kickstarter and the GCPC

    Vern:, You're welcome and you're probably correct about the future of government...though that doesn't stop me from trying to work toward something a little better than what we have now.
  9. Kickstarter and the GCPC

    Carl, Other Transaction Authority (OTA) has recently been revised and given a new statutory basis. Using OTA is not an attempt to make a prototyping project comply with the FAR and that is what makes it interesting. An OTA GPC transaction, if it could be done, would be outside the FAR, and may have other significant features, see one explanation at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/section-815-other-transaction-agreement-prototype-mcmartin-esq- All, Are we taking the right path trying to: Either shoehorn commercial vendors into compatible agreements with the federal government, (see https://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/federal-compatible-terms-of-service-agreements/) Or Render unenforceable the offending portion of common agreements that nevertheless may remain included in the stated terms of Supplier Agreements (see the 15 types of terms and conditions rendered unenforceable by the three classes GSA implemented in their 31 July 2015 Class Deviation: http://www.esi.mil/download.aspx?id=5726 Or providing for this extraordinary treatment given to commercial terms purchased via GPC out of government concerns that terms involving indemnification are incompatible with the Anti Deficiency Act, see FAR 13.202: "13.202 Unenforceability of unauthorized obligations in micro-purchases. Many supplies or services are acquired subject to supplier license agreements. These are particularly common in information technology acquisitions, but they may apply to any supply or service. For example, computer software and services delivered through the internet (web services) are often subject to license agreements, referred to as End User License Agreements (EULA), Terms of Service (TOS), or other similar legal instruments or agreements. Many of these agreements contain indemnification clauses that are inconsistent with Federal law and unenforceable, but which could create a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341) if agreed to by the Government. The clause at 52.232-39, Unenforceability of Unauthorized Obligations, automatically applies to any micro-purchase, including those made with the Governmentwide purchase card. This clause prevents such violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341)." I have heard that remarkable paragraph termed a Chridtian Doctrine in reverse. It is not as broad as the other mechanisms above, in that it does not treat other types of terms such as automatic renewal or legal jurisdiction, and a host of others, but it does reveal the heavy hand of government; it is one of the new top down 70 percent solutions that will eventually replace most of the older top down 70 percent solutions. Whose job are the 30% solutions? How many purchased don't happen for these reasons? For the most part we don't track what we don't buy and why we don't buy it. And what will be the trend? In a marketplace where bricks and mortar increasingly become a burden, might the government learn a lighter touch? ...we might then ask ourselves as a government: "Who will be around to do business with us the old fashioned way, if we don't learn a new way? I have hope that eventually the digital natives will sort this out...
  10. www.farsite.hill.af.mil

    Really??? Is it just me or does anyone else wonder how many current contracts include the now obsolete link to farsite.hill? What's a diligent contract administrator to do? I suppose, send an eMail to the contractor, to be placed in the file, and wait until the next contract modification to include the new link. Either that or send off a note asking folks at Farsite.hill if the tail must really wag the dog...and hope for the best.
  11. Kickstarter and the GCPC

    Mr. Fleharty, I would be surprised if it could not be done. It would be a lot of work, that's for sure. It would involve setting up a new GPC card program (totally separate from an appropriated fund GPC program, such as is done for Non Appropriated Funds (NAF) and Chapel funds). It would need business rules and make use of one of the contracted banks. This site discussing eligibility for SmartPay programs is linked here: https://smartpay.gsa.gov/content/about-gsa-smartpay#sa356 and this link below gives contact information for the GSA SmartPay Program Management Office: https://smartpay.gsa.gov/content/contact#sa608
  12. Kickstarter and the GCPC

    Hmm...maybe there's still a way... In DoD depending on department or agency notable exceptions to the advance payment using GPC are training and subscriptions. Those don't seem to get the job done. Chapel GPC programs fall entirely outside of the FAR...could Kickstarter be compatible with it? Could it fit their mission? I doubt it, but I don't know. I don't like to give up on an opportunity to do the government's business; So on to appropriated fund GPC... I say, why fret about ADA before we have thiroughly considered what we are buying? What is our requirement? And what authority exists that allows advance payment? The DoD FMR is okay with advance payment on Copyrights and Patents (DoD FMR Vol 10, Ch. 4 , paragraph 040305). Isn't that what this is? We get lifetime rights to use? Is it an ADA violation if we buy a patent and it does not work as hoped? Or is it an ADA violation if we buy a patent that we never use? How is this different? At a fundamental level is not our requirement the permanent right to an opportunity, whatever that opportunity affords us? I think commercial transactions in the government's interest should be viewed with a strong bias toward commerciality, whatever that might mean. Sometimes we just don't know how not to act like a monopsony. Now about using the card, the Air Force GPC, for example; some of the advance payment exceptions at DoD FMR Ch 4 are already permitted in the Air Force appropriated fund GPC guide (AFI 64-117). Their general prohibition on GPC advance payments is at paragraph 4.5.1.15. So, I say Ask. There is a waiver process near the beginning of the guide,; use it. The authority to make advance payments for copyrights and patents is already stated in FMR, so if I wanted to do it, I'd send a request above my operational unit through my MAJCOM Contracting Division to SAF/AQC for approval. I'd cite the FMR authority and describe the requirement and include any required functional area approvals required (I can't think of any for this one). If approved, I would also expect to have to elevate a request via eMail to adjust the merchant category code on the card account to allow the transaction to go through at the bank; my MAJCOM GPC Level 3 should be able to do that. From cardholder to SAF/AQC, the GPC waiver request could have eyes on by as few as 4 and as many as 7 or 8 levels of government, when a final decision is made...which kind of validates the original questioner's concern.... Or if GPC is not accepted by the vendor, which is a real possibility, a micro-purchase can be done via contract, which in DoD, unless in exceptional circumstances, requires a written determination by a general or flag officer or member of the SES IAW DFARS 213.370 (b) (1). Also, kind of validates the original questioner's concern, doesn't it?
  13. Accountability Might Need a New Name

    Thank you Mr. Fleharty. The resources you linked are clear eyed and helpful. Yes, I see the features of this effort fitting nicely in the early implementation described by the authors in the linked HBR article. Namely, the initial effort I envision is: One customer, that being DoD or one of its components; limited scope, that is accountability systems (accounting & property); simplistic regulatory framework, that is mainly Congressional oversight instead of being a commercial sector concern which may face many multi-level considerations in a GAAP/SEC/FNRA/FED/IRS/shareholder/congressional oversight environs; a long cherished elusive and difficult to achieve goal, that is achieving and maintaining audit readiness; the prospect of fulfilling the promise of improvements in doing government business , that is the essence of this effort to re-envision government accountability; overall improvements in cost avoidance, cost visibility, responsiveness to oversight, and decreased management burden, these are major incentives with obvious appeal both in and out of the executive branch.
  14. Audit readiness and information reporting are the reasons for more and more of the things we are called upon to do as stewards of a vast public trust. There seems to be an air of inevitability about it...a kind bureaucratic mission creep so easily sets in and there are new reasons to ever add new tasks, new considerations, and new demands to our day. It has come to dominate the landscape around us. With new tools we may be able to query most any question about government spending and get the answer immediately. Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin should enable us to uniquely label (or perhaps instead of "label" call it "name" if you like, in a nod to personal finance and budgeting authority, Dave Ramsey) every single dollar to spend and add to that label for every event involving that dollar. To conduct an audit or obtain a report (they become the same thing done by different people) read the label for every single dollar spent at any time during the acquisition cycle and compile the result to your heart's content. In Real Time. Every single dollar will carry its complete history: Appropriation data, time and date infirmation, the personnel making approvals and authorities cited award data, socio economic data, acceptance and chain of custody, associated RFID identification, physical inventory results and emergent ideas not yet considered. I wouldn't get concerned over things this idea isn't. This isn't a budget process; and it isn't a new currency; and it isn't using Bitcoin to pay vendors; it isn't using bitcoin at all. It is a new tool to track the flow and use of dollars in government in real time. What's more there will be ways to reliably and permanently obscure proprietary information so that it will have proper and determinable boundaries. We don't have to do what we have always done. Without statistical sampling we can query the dollars themselves and learn anything we want from those dollars about government spending in real time. Who da thunk it? Insight into uses of blockchain technology is growing now: http://www.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-blockchain-tech-leaders-according-to-morgan-stanley-2017-6?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=170616&utm_campaign=moneystuff A daily watcher of blockchain technology, Matt Levine can be found here: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/topics/money-stuff Thoughts? Predictions? Reality Checks, anyone?
  15. Contract Closeout Process

    I apologize for the typo: deobligation. For info on ADA you might start with this site: http://www.gao.gov/legal/anti-deficiency-act/about
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