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General.Zhukov

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  1. General.Zhukov

    Amended Solicitation - Fair Opportunity

    Thanks again for the great advice.
  2. General.Zhukov

    Amended Solicitation - Fair Opportunity

    Anticlimactic follow-up. We got the $150, mostly from nickels and dimes from under our sofa cushions. So moot. 1) The determination was that I would have to re-open the solicitation to all eligible offerors (the original10) because making things options is a material change. Where an agency’s requirements change in a material way after a solicitation has been issued, the agency must generally issue an amendment and afford all offerors an opportunity to compete for its changed requirements. Murray-Benjamin Elec. Co., L.P., B-400255, Aug. 7, 2008, 2008 CPD ¶ 155 at 3-4. 2) My next Fair Opportunity I am going to make everyone - offerors, CO, reviewers & evaluators - submit sworn statements acknowledging the acquisition is not subject to FAR 15. I will also change the word 'offerors' to 'y'all' and 'proposal' to 'stuff' in the solicitation (to be re-named the 'Request for Stuff' or RFS). 3) The lack of participation and the under-budgeting are both due to the requirement being overly complicated (IMO).
  3. General.Zhukov

    Amended Solicitation - Fair Opportunity

    Thank you all for the sage advice. For the next few days I'm quite busy, so I can't provide a more thoughtful response right now.
  4. Background: Competitive solicitation for complex services under FAR 16.5. Labor Hour. For our purposes, there was a pool of 10+ contractors, and 3 proposals received. Budget is $100. Company A was Excellent and $150. Company B was Satisfactory/Marginal and $120. Company C was Unsatisfactory at $150. Negotiations are necessary. To lower total cost, we are considering amending solicitation and cutting-out a few discreet and lower-priority tasks, making them separate optional tasks (as we might have the money in a few months). This would reduce overall effort/cost by maybe 25%. Question: Can we limit negotiations to just Company A & B? Or must we allow Company C to participate. Or the entire pool of contractors (the 7 who did not submit bids)? FAR 16.505 (b), the solicitation and the parent IDIQ contract have no clear language (at least, not clear to me) about this matter.
  5. General.Zhukov

    Determining Fair and Reasonable LPTA

    Whether or not prices are fair and reasonable is a separate issue from 'How to LPTA.' Let's just focus on LPTA evaluation methodology. There are two typical methodology for LPTA. 1) Rank responses by price. Starting with the lowest price, determine if it's technically acceptable. If yes, stop. If no, proceed to the next lowest price and repeat. This is most common methodology in the federal government. I will die on this hill. I have conducting training where I discussed this exact topic. 1102s across a dozen (civilian) agencies have said this is, by far, the most common way they 'evaluate.' I have spoken to 1102s who have told me this is the *only* way they have ever done an evaluation under FAR 8.4 or 13. 2) Evaluate all responses for acceptability. Select lowest price of the acceptable responses. My GS-15 mandates use of this methodology for FAR 8.4/12/13 LPTA stuff, despite the protests of staff. For LPTA Version 1, there is **most of the time** a reasonable assumption that several quotes/offers/responses/etc. received is sufficient competition for price reasonableness **most of the time**, regardless of whether the responses are technically acceptable or not. I would note, however, that if its not bordering on self-evident what 'technically acceptable' means, you probably don't want to do Method 1. When I am pretending to be a CO (when the actual CO is out sick), I would not sign off on 'the expectation of competition' establishing price reasonableness if only one offer was received. I would refer you to FAR 13-106-3 (a) (2), 15.404, etc.
  6. General.Zhukov

    Evaluation Bias

    1) The golden rule is to evaluate as you said you would in the solicitation, and your evaluation is impartial. This is very explicitly stated many times in the FAR. Favoring some offerors over others is a big no-no, and the subject of bazillions of protests. There are lots of controls in place to prevent that from happening, but it still does happen. A good Contract Specialist will ensure that the *legitimate* reasons a vendor is a 'favorite' are factored in. Say a vendor is favored because they have an excellent track-record of performance. Then a solicitation could heavily weight past performance. That's legit. Tweaking specifications so that only a single brand name product could be acceptable, without a corresponding 'Brand Name Only' justification, not so legit. Deciding in advance who gets the contract, and then backward planning the acquisition procedures and source selection - not legit at all. 2) No. In my experience, we don't mind hard questions. I consider them a type of credible positive signaling (Someone competent spent valuable time reading and thinking seriously about the solicitation). We don't like dumb or pointless questions. To the extent possible, I try to make questions anonymous so that the folks answering the questions don't know which offeror asked the questions. I do this to try to avoid setting expectations, because questions definitely do establish some prior expectations about the offerors, no matter what anyone says to the contrary.
  7. This is my personal 1102 jihad, so to speak. 1) I too would like to know this. 2) & 3). Yes. Automated administrative tasks is a big industry. It goes by many names - Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Business Process Improvement, Digital Transformation, Workflow Automation. All of the major tools could be used in federal contracting. Every big IT services firm dabbles in this industry, and there are many niche players too. Big Example ) www.ibm.com/automation/software‎. Niche Example) AutomationAnywhere.com. 4) Any activity that involves looking up data, copying & pasting data, moving files around, or following a well-defined and limited set of rules can be automated. First and foremost, all core contract documents can be automatically generated and populated. Communication like status updates, generic emails, and the like can be automated. Clause Builders and ARRT are a crude version of this. You could set up a more elaborate system where, on a certain date, a reminder pop up about an option. The 1102 and/or COR answer a few questions and the draft D&F is written , Notice of Intent email written and sent (including updated email contact info), draft Contract Modification written in your CWS, CPARS stuff, verification COR status & new COR appointment (if necessary), verified SAM records, and complete file documentation, plus notices for internal review & approve sent to various folks, all that done automatically in a few seconds. This would, however, be a non-trivial undertaking to set up.
  8. General.Zhukov

    Material Cost Adjustment

    Not my area of expertise, but this comes to mind: FAR 16.205 -- Fixed-Price Contracts with Prospective Price Redetermination. This can't be used for Commercial Items though, and from what I understand is mostly used for utilities, so not a great fit. As always the case, do MR about the commercial practices for dealing with this issue (other than relocating to Mexico).
  9. General.Zhukov

    A solution to improve 1102 output and efficiency?

    The Netflix manifesto is very much a product of its Silicon Valley environment. It only works under exceptional circumstances. Highly competitive market. There are minimal difference between inter and intra firm transaction costs, and those costs are very low indeed. Workers are abundant, ultra-networked, and skills are fast changing and easily transferable. Productivity is clearly measured and monitored. Risk is compensated with cash (no job security, but very high wages). Etc. For the public sector generally, the Netflix model is useless. My proposition is that 'better people' are almost never the solution, and people are almost never the problem. People respond to incentives, and the incentives are systemic. Comcast doesn't hire uniquely nasty and stupid customer support. Firing the lot and re-hiring 'better people' won't make any difference. Comcast is a monopoly and its customers are hostages. That is the problem, and its nothing to with HR. Contracting shops sure seem to have really low efficiency. More training or better people won't make any difference. The federal government cares a great deal about compliance and following proper procedures. Efficiency isn't even measured for the most part. See Vern's post about how its impossible to baseline effort ex ante. If there isn't a standard to measure against, there is no such thing as 'more' efficient - more efficient compared to what? Anyways, regarding the time-off incentive of the original post. Most contracting offices I know about make extensive use of time as an incentive. The particular scheme described would probably not work because a very-strong time-incentive would lead to all sorts of harmful gamesmanship. The crucial 'assignment of workload' in particular.
  10. General.Zhukov

    Subscription as a service

    I deal with the Product or Service issue often in the context of contractually supporting a large scientific library used by our agency. A library that has lots of varying contractual agreements for data, publications, research support, etc. Some are product, some are service. However, most are subscriptions with PSC Code D317. The answer depends on the specifics, of course. But generally speaking... Outside of FAR, look at commercial billing practices. Is it FFP (probably product) or usage-based, like Labor Hour (probably service)? Pay in full at time of purchase (probably product) or in arrears (probably service).
  11. General.Zhukov

    We Cannot Explain Our Requirements

    Yeah, I've already pitched 'use your P-Card to hire a technical consultant from FSS 70 for a week, who is willing to agree to the OCI/Non-Disclosures/Non-competes.' But our cultural is very conservative, and that's isn't' happening. Our in-house consultants have helped though, but we don't have a deep bench for this domain.
  12. General.Zhukov

    We Cannot Explain Our Requirements

    I have not. In this specific case, what we do is very similar to what a lot of other people do, and we've been doing it for years, so its not starting from scratch. Hence the short times. But the point is taken. Its very difficult to write a PWS at all, and more so to write it well.
  13. General.Zhukov

    We Cannot Explain Our Requirements

    General: 1: Between 1 to 5 $MM per year. 2: September (!), but there is wiggle room there. Fun: 1: COR and, since its currently being administrated by a different Department, that other Department's minimally involved CO. 2: Its an IT system the contractor maintains and uses to do stuff for us. Its like a kitchen. Government owns all the tools, all the ingredients, and the recipes are open-source. The contractor is the chef. We can fire the chef and hire a new one, but we may not like their cooking. 3: The same dynamic duo as question 1.
  14. 1102 here. Not sure if *right place to post this. Situation: My agency has a system that has been developed and supported by a contractor for >5 Years. Up for 're-compete.'' It seems the Program Office has been *heavily* reliant on the contractor all this time, and lacks the technical competence to explain what this system does, or what they would like it to do The Program Office provided to me a wildly incoherent Statement of Work (Sample: It mysteriously included a years-old version of 52.212-3 in full text as an attachment to their SOW, no other clauses or Section I, just that one provision). The Program Office has received feedback on the SOW from me, industry, other internal stakeholders, and several other Contracting folks and they have incrementally improved it over several months. I would say it has improved from an "F-" to a "D+." It at least covers the known requirements and has all the parts (such as deliverables). The clock is ticking and at some point very soon we need to move on. P.S. This is a highly technical requirement (lots of buzz-words...unstructured data, machine learning, containers, PaaS, hybrid cloud, etc.). Its not a common-sense type thing you can just eye-ball and figure out. P.P.S. I am fairly certain the incumbent contractor's team could easily write a clean, coherent and generally pretty good PWS in a day. I am also fairly certain any consultant in the relevant field could, with access to all our information, write a clean, coherent and generally pretty good PWS in a week. Questions: Whose responsibility is it to sufficiently define the the requirement? Who makes the decision about when its 'good enough?' What is the responsibility of the Contracting Officer with regards to requirements that they do not and could not reasonably be expected to fully understand? What to do? General advice welcome.
  15. General.Zhukov

    A $1,220 Coffee Mug

    " Each time a handle breaks, the Air Force is forced to order a whole new cup, as replacement parts are no longer made." [Each Time a Mug Handle Breaks] Do I issue a $1,200 PO today to get a replacement and be done with it, or initiate the process to establish an alternate source, which may take months and dozens (hundreds?) of hours; hours better spent on things more consequential than non-commercial coffee mug handles?
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