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  1. An excellent topic!! I wouldn't waste my time with "training." You can't "train" a semi-literate to write cogent sentences, at least not easily nor quickly. Now, if you can convince your agency to either send these folks back to University, or bring in local experts (I'm not talking about business writing people folks), then definitely go that route. On the other hand, if the option is to show some good or bad examples via Powerpoint while 85% of the attendees are checking their Facebook accounts via their phones…..I’d find a better use of my time. It seems to me there are several issues at work here, some of which Guardian highlights above. One glaring issue I see is the federal hiring process which flattens all higher education. The number of new hires I am seeing that have attended online higher education exclusively is appalling. Couple that with the overall rejection of Arts and Humanities in higher education (a several decades old trend that was accelerated mightily after 2008’s economic meltdown), and you increasingly have a workforce that struggles with written communication. So then.....what is the answer? The one I give in my office is that I've written every SOW/PWS/SOO for every contract I've done. Now to be sure, I am working at a very local office supporting local customers doing commercial contracts only. I currently have 60-70 awarded contracts I am administering and then bringing on 15-20 new ones each year. Furthermore, the dollar values I am awarding are nowhere near the 9 digits mentioned above. Yet, I did just award my first 8 digit contract a month ago, and I can confidently say that the COR for that contract had a level of literacy on par with a middle-schooler. Now before all of you impugn me with being hyperbolic, know this. I spend a week of my leave in the summer grading AP (Advanced Placement) European History tests (full disclosure: prior to getting into contracting I was teaching European History as an Adjunct Instructor at a Big 10 school, therefore doing this for a week acts as my outlet for that abiding interest). For seven straight days, eight hours a day, I sit in a convention center reading essays. I’d estimate a decent grader makes it through 1400 essays for those 7 days. The first draft of that SOW was far worse than any essay I read last summer.
  2. Thanks so much for your time Vern and you described the situation to a T. I was a little curious why their counsel was so quick to state how the payments should be done. Getting out from the "cloud of default" could very well be the reason. A prudent move on their part. If I had to do it again I would probably acquiesce to their contract modification from the outset. I just didn't like the idea of the Government spending resources doing another procurement because of a commercial transaction outside of this contract. I suppose that if the CO takes a bird's-eye view of these situations they become part of the cost of doing business. To be honest, I never thought it would go as far as it did. Perhaps this is a time when forgiving and forgetting is in the best interest of all parties involved. Thanks so much again Vern...although a native Midwesterner, I'm an alumnus of Oregon State University and envious of your locale. I miss wandering the aisles of Powell's immensely!!
  3. They had no issue with the contract's stipulated method of payment and have been submitting electronic invoices for three years prior. The stated reason they stopped performing is that they wanted one of the models removed from the contract (they sold the rights to that piece of equipment to another firm). I informed them that they signed this contract with all pieces of equipment on it and the Government was under no obligation to modify our contract. I suggested a solution would be for them to subcontract the work for that one piece of equipment to the firm they sold the rights to and they refused. I then asked why I should spend the Government's resources doing a partial termination of this contract and then a new procurement to another firm for that one piece of equipment? It took our legal counsel threatening a termination of the entire contract for them to back down and they are now performing per the contract (and they are indeed subcontracting work for the one piece of equipment to the firm they sold the rights to). The four times we required emergent work since 12/01/2016 they demanded method of payment outside the contract because they didn't recognize the most recent option year with the contested item included....their position from 12/01/2016 until last week was that the contract wasn't valid.
  4. Sorry for the ambiguity....the contract in question is for maintenance and emergency repair on several pieces of medical equipment. The pieces are all of one type, but there are 5 different models of that type. The contract is a "full-service" contract which involves an annual PM and ALL emergency repair service. If one of the pieces of equipment is defective or malfunctioning the contract dictates first a phone call to see if the contractor can walk our own technician through the repair. If that process doesn't resolve it, then the vendor has 72 hours to show up and repair it. For the first three years all has been hunky-dory. However, after 12/01/2016 they would only respond to our defective piece of equipment if we authorized a separate method of payment (which is the exact way we would handle this if these pieces of equipment were not covered under any contract). The vendor told us flat out, that until we removed something they weren't going to acknowledge option year 3. But yes Vern, your question gets to the issue here....they first refused to perform IAW with the contract, but would then agree to perform if we assured them of payment outside of the contract. Certainly the work they performed under the separate purchase order (four in total) is identical to the work required of the contract.
  5. I have a pretty unique situation and am not quite sure how to handle it: I am the CO on a Commercial Services Contract and the third option year was effective on 12/01/2016 (option was awarded unilaterally in late October IAW with FAR 52.217-9). The contractor had been performing per the contract up until that point. However, they decided on 12/01/2016 that they wanted something removed from the contract. I refused (not in the Gov. best interest), and they stopped performing the first day of the third option year. The COR and I only found this out in late December when we called them for some work to be done. They refused to work per the contract, and because of the nature of this contract we had to give them a separate method of payment before they would arrive and work (of course this was our last option but this contract is for medical equipment used in surgeries and was done as a sole-source, one and only to the OEM...they really had us over a barrel at this point). Since that day, there have been three other times where they refused to work until a separate method of payment, outside of the contract, was agreed upon. Since late December we have been working with the firm to get them back to work per the contract (Show Cause, Cure Notice, our legal counsel threatening termination...all these things were done). I was ready to Terminate for Cause this week, but finally the contractor backed down and went back to work....here is my question. The contractor wants to refund us the four separate purchases we made to them for emergency service and then invoice us per the contract. I think that we should actually refuse the four refunds and I want to mod the money off the contract from which they weren't performing, essentially mod the money from 12/01/2016-the date they agreed to work per the contract. How can we pay them per the contract for services they didn't perform in the contract?
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