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General.Zhukov

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Everything posted by General.Zhukov

  1. I am a CO, and former Army guy who has spent more days at military " role playing training facilities" than I care to remember, although never at one specifically for SOCOM. The key here is that the requirement is for a large training area, enough for 4 village sites and a road network, "within 15-mile radius of Camp Mackall." How many such areas could possibly exist? My guess is - one. There is only one possible location. Everyone in the know knows exactly where it is, who owns it, what their price is, and what can or cannot be done on it, and how. If you have any chance at getting this contract you either own that land, or are best friends with whomever does own it. Given that fact, SOCOM probably felt no need to go into further detail in the solicitation.
  2. Probably yes. Phase One's purpose is to quickly screen for proposals that are worth evaluating in more detail during Phase Two. So what we are looking for are: - Criteria that are pretty good at indicating high-value - Criteria that is relatively easy to evaluate - objective, minimal interpretation needed, this usually means quantitative data. - Proposal information that is relatively low-cost for offerors. Avoiding FAR 15 procedures, or the appearance of using FAR 15 procedures. Pretty Good Screening Criteria I Have Actually Used At Least Once, And Did Not Regret Using Samples. I had a requirement that involved, basically, scrubbing and QCing some messy and complicated data. Our scientists made some fake data, with some subtle errors in it. An evaluation factor was 'analyze this fake data and tell us what you found.' If they don't find the errors - Fail. If they find the errors - Meh. If they find the errors and explain them - Good. This took less than 10 minutes to evaluate per proposal. Everyone involved (Program personnel and Offerors) liked it. Quasi-Past-Performance. Criteria about offeror's experience and performance on similar work, but not FAR 15 Past Performance exactly. PIL has something about this. Offerors have some essential credentials, warrants, licenses, etc. CMMI Level II. FedRAMP. SCIF. Has appropriate State licenses, etc. Pretty close to responsibility determination though, so be careful. Challenge Questions / Short Q&As. Offeror's give brief (like really brief - 1/2 page, a few slides, 10 min. presentation) pitches for how the offeror proposes to do the work. This is much more subjective, but if done right, this can be very productive. In my area, IT, we would probably ask about proposed architecture, platforms, software development methodology, etc. Often our technical folks will immediately know they do or do not like a particular approach based on these answers. Summary "Technical Approach."Give us the short version. 1 page. Key Personnel. Sometimes in my area (IT), at the end of the day we are buying smart people that can code. The rest is window dressing. You may consider just asking for KP info at first. But be careful about this approach, it has some serious down-sides and, generally,and is appropriate only for select circumstances (small & highly technical).
  3. I love the fact that a comparative evaluation used in phase one of a multi-phase source selection has serious mathematics hiding just below the surface. Bottom Line: Don't try comparative evaluations if you expect to get a lot of proposals. Its a much more challenging math problem that it may first appear. Its a special case of what I think its called a comparison sorting algorithm (note: I like math, but am no mathematician) that is known in math and computer science. When the numbers are low, just basic math required to figure out the number of comparisons necessary. But as the number increases, this problem gets exponentially more difficult. Quickly goes from intuitive to computationally hard to God-level AI needed. Number To Be Compared & Sorted Number of Highest Rated You Need To Know Who Can Do The Math To Figure Out How Many Comparisons Are Needed 3 1 Child 5 2 Educated Adult 8 2 Well-Educated Adult 15 5 Computer Scientist 30 5 PhD in Combinatorics 100 10 Von Neumann + Quantum Supercomputer 1000 50 Deep Thought
  4. Ah, you are correct. I was thinking of a new TO issued against something like an agency IDIQ, which for small $ isn't protestable; while an out of scope mod would be. This is not an area I am very familiar with. My mistake. The general point was that an otherwise inexplicable method of procurement sometimes makes sense if understood as a method of avoiding a protest-happy contractor.
  5. There are strategic reasons. People: That's the only contract available for that particular contractor. Time: A bilateral mod on an existing TO may take a few days, while a new TO might have a lead time of months. Avoiding protest / legal strategy. In some situations, an out-of-scope mod to a TO (or other type of contract action) can't be protested, but a new contract/order could be. If you are in a contentious litigation with a company who has declared their intent to expand their protest further (possibly to pressure the Government to take corrective action rather than wait for a decision), then this may be a good idea. Particularly if the stop-work(s) is (are) becoming very painful.
  6. I don't have a real rationale, nor argument. I can terminate a commercial contract unilaterally, which is far more drastic a measure than a stop-work, but conceptually very similar, so if I can take a full-measure, why not a half-measure? Again, not going to argue this point. This is kinda sorta like the rationale in Robert A. & Sandra B. Moura, PSBCA 3460, 96-1 BCA ¶ 27,956: Excellent feedback, thank you all. Much appreciated. I take the point that the clauses in the contract, not the FAR, is what's binding. In my particular case, a contractor is performing work under a commercial services contract. By all accounts, doing a very good job. However, there are several major issues with the contract. One being we (GVT) are considering terminating it due to change in our business strategy, but haven't yet made that decision. . Second, the contractor seems to have been receiving interim payments, not delivery payments as intended. And at this point has been paid in full, but the work is incomplete. Given these circumstances, the grown-ups have decided we are in a hole, and need to stop digging immediately. I feel like there is some basis for issuing a stop work in this case, although I cannot find on in the texts.
  7. What's going on with stop-work orders for commercial contracts that do not have 52.242-15? FAR 52.212-4 & -5 do not appear to have anything allowing issuance of unilateral stop-work orders. Does that matter? My intuition is that it doesn't, I can go ahead and issue a unilateral stop-work order for any commercial contract and that stop work order will be legally binding. FAR 42.1303 Stop-work orders - this part of the FAR indicates to me I can issue a stop work for a commercial contract, regardless of clauses, so long as the contract meets those weird critieria. Why does FAR 42.1303 have these weird, seemingly arbitrary criteria? Implying no stop work order for simplified, sealed bid, 16.5 orders, incentive contracts, time & material, etc. This makes no sense to me. negotiated fixed-price or cost-reimbursement supply, research and development, or service contract Why doesn't the FAR say the government can issue a stop work order, always - the end?
  8. Validating stuff from external sources - (SAM.GOV). Compliance reviews Organizing, preparing contract file & documentation. Routine correspondence. Automating contract writing - checking boxes, adding boilerplate T&C, etc. Acquisition planning - esp. filling out technical documents or forms. All the back-office purchase card stuff.
  9. This is a clue. My guess is that they are trying to price the change (maybe an equitable adjustment?) and can't figure out how to do that without more granular pricing data.
  10. Off topic: Companies will charge as much as they think customers will pay. Last year I found myself getting a tour of a McLaren 570GT by its super-enthusiastic owner. Brakes had recently been replaced, at cost north of $2,000. It may well have been $2,000 just for labor and testing. In any event, it was insanely expensive. On topic: Inspection & Acceptance in the contract is mostly covered by 52.212-4, with a few additional caveats. The AoA was done in very close coordination with the COR & PM, and the COR took the AoA, modified it, and presented to higher-up. This took somewhere between 1 and 5 weeks. I consider that government acceptance.
  11. Thanks for the advice. I am finding the Contract Lawyers Handbook and Contract Pricing Reference Guides to be very helpful resources. Asking the SBA to step in is also quality advice. They want to give me what I need in terms of information, but its been tough going, and it would be great if an outside adviser could give them some help on this. Regarding the clause and authority to do an REA.... This is a commercial contract, so it has 52.212-4 and the paragraph about changes by mutual consent. So, that is that in terms of clauses. In terms of "Should the contractor be compensated for event X?" - that is what I struggle with, especially when its fixed price and there isn't any cost data. This is particularly true when it comes to this contract. Contractor does research, submits an AoA to PM. PM takes it up the chain, and thereby implicitly accepting it, and the higher-ups reject the AoA. Contractor revises AoA, re-submits, kicked-back again. Third time is approved. At the same time, internal Government issues lead to delays where the contractor needs guidance from the GVT that is not forthcoming so they sit on their hands for a while. I have mixed intuitions about whether the contractor did either the right or the legal thing by doing the re-work rather than refusing to work further once the initial deliverable was accepted. In any event, thanks again for the advice.
  12. I have a Request for Equitable Adjustment for a FFP Commercial Contract for IT Services, and its killing me. Two related questions. 1) How to price EA for FFP when I have no cost information except some really simple info (1 slide, containing $/month) sent to me by contractor? Our agency has no cost/price analysts or handy support staff, and minimal experience with Equitable Adjustments so far as I can tell. 2) Are there, out there on the interwebs, any good examples of actual or theoretical Equitable Adjustments for FFP? Background: Direct 8(a) within a special IT program. Objective of the contract was to support Business Case Analysis for replacement of an IT system, and then to prototype one or more of the selected alternatives. Fixed price. About $1MM over 1 Year. There has been about 6 months of delay for at least 4 discreet reasons, not all of which is the GVT fault. 1) Performance started late due to on-boarding and security clearance issues. Probably not our fault? ~ 1 Month. 2) GVT shutdown. Our fault. 1 Month. 3) Requirements gathering 'more complicated' than anticipated. Probably not our fault? 1 Month. 4) The Analysis of Alternatives was kicked back by the GVT at least twice for very questionable reasons and not within a reasonable time-period. Our fault. 3 Months.
  13. 1) Justification for Other Than Full and Open Competition (FAR 15) 2) Justification for Exception to Fair Opportunity (FAR 16.5) 3) Sole Source Justification (FAR 13.5?) 4) Limited Source Justification (FAR 8.4) 5) Brand Name Justification (scattered throughout the FAR) 6) Determination and Finding? 7) Probably other ones too? (Maybe FAR 14 has its own?) How's this for acquisition streamlining, just use option #1 for everything. Over SAT = Use FAR 6/15 Rules. Under SAT = Use FAR 13 Rules. The end.
  14. Caveat: Not an expert, so not the definitive answer: Yes. A FAR 13 'Sole Source; (FAR 13.106-1 (b) ) does not have any specific authority in U.S.C. In addition, the same is true for FAR 13.5. Under FAR 13.5, you use the 1) format, 2) notice and 3) approval from FAR 6. That is all. You do NOT cite any FAR 6.3 sole-source authority. The authority for (almost) all source-sources under FAR 13 is FAR 13 itself - ''CO determines only one source is reasonably available'.
  15. I caution against over-relying on FAR 15 for this, unless you are sure FAR 15 procedures were used. The vast majority of contracts do not use FAR 15 procedures (in HHS, my best estimate is less than 4% of new contract actions are straight FAR 15). FAR 3.104 is worth a read. As a CO, its very unclear to me what exactly can and cannot be disclosed in a debrief - other than if you guess wrong and disclose too much its instant death.
  16. Google "DTIC" Get stuff like this Analysis of Alternatives for Out- and Over-Size Strategic Airlift: Reliability and Cost Analyses https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/b256383.pdf
  17. It really varies, contracting is full of tiny little niches that don't have that much in common with each other: Topics I'm Interested In Process Improvement & Streamlining Source Selection for Services excluding FAR 15 IT System Acquisition Innovation Metrics and Performance Measurement Don't Care Anything Cost Plus DoD stuff, like OTA FAR 31 Construction Sealed Bidding Buzzy-Buzz-Buzz: AI / Blockchain / Machine Learning / Platforms / Robotic Process Automation / etc. Anything that applies only to FAR 15
  18. I have no idea about pricing other than I agree that it its a tough one, but here is another ossible source for comparison: In HHS, the Indian Health Services (IHS) does contracting for direct provisioning of health care over a very wide area. IHS is tiny, so its contracting is a lot easier to understand than, say, the VA.
  19. To further hijack this thread---- The IBR rule in the FAR Clause Matrix is an anachronism. In practice, only the 52.252 clauses must be in full text. Nothing else. Especially not 52.212-3. I typically maximize IBR for commercial orders, simplified, etc. There is something embarrassing about issuing a 17-page purchase order for a copier. And the contractual requirements in those clauses are very, very rarely relevant post-award. Its unlikely Convict Labor will come up with that copier. More complex or risk contracts, FAR 15 contracts, are different. I could see going crazy with the full text for those.
  20. yes, appropriate. However, conference calls are iffy. I would check with the vendors about it before proceeding. Sometimes they are reluctant to say anything within earshot of their competitors. Even their presence on the call- identifying themselves as an interested party - might be something they want to keep private.
  21. Well, if it were me I wouldn't put out an RFQ like that in the first place. But for vaguely defined requirements, I usually have non-cost/price factors be much more important. If I think the prices used for award do not accurately represent what actual costs are likely to be, I discount them in my decision. So in this case, I would likely select Offeror A regardless of whether the GVT or offerors pick the hours. In my field of IT services I see this very frequently. Its not due to anyone's failure to do their job. Its often the case that neither GVT nor contractor can with much confidence estimate the particular outcomes, schedule or overall cost of an IT project. There is a whole contracting cottage-industry devoted to solving this problem - Agile, Digital Services, 18F, Kessel Run, DIB's very long white paper about DoD software, etc.
  22. When the requirement is poorly defined, offerors are just guessing at the LOE in their approach. If its for poorly-defined labor-hour work, then offerors are both guessing about the LOE and their guess isn't binding in any meaningful way - which is a huge incentive to low-ball. During evaluation, the CO has to deal with these theoretically low-priced offers through trade-offs or price realism. Price realism analysis is a waste of time - we don't really know if any offeror's LOE is, in fact, realistic. Trade-offs then ends up ironically comparing these prices as if they mean something. Example RFQ: Paint my house. I don't know how many square feet it is. No, you can't do a site survey. No, I don't have any pictures of it. No, you can't ask me any questions. I'll pay by the hour. I think it will take 20 hours. You have to write me a 10 page description of how you will paint my house, including how many hours it will take you and your hourly rate. By the way, It doesn't matter how many hours you propose, since I'll just pay you until its done. Offeror A: I am a professional house-painter with 10 years experience. I propose 20 hours, at $20/hr. "$400." Offeror B: I painted a few houses last summer. I propose 15 hours at $20/hr. "$300" Contracting Officer trying to write a source selection decision that justifies why Offeror A is worth the entirely-notional 33% premium in price: I need to update my usajobs profile. There are many methods to avoid this situation, but probably the lowest-effort method is fixed labor categories and hours.
  23. Yes I suppose, but its not a big deal. The objective of analysis is to ensure the final price is fair and reasonable. There are seven types of analysis listed in FAR 15, cost and price being just two of them. This analysis is required but most of the times its actually much more simple and common-sense than it appears in FAR 15. Price Analysis. Say you want to buy some software. The company sells their software on their website for $10. You ask your friend who bought the same thing last week. She says she also paid $10. You have just determined the firm-fixed price to be fair and reasonable through price analysis per FAR 15.404 (b) (2) (ii) and (iv). Cost Analysis. You want your house painted. A painter says he'll do it for $8,000. $5,000 labor and $3,000 paint. That seems like way to much $ for paint for your 2,000 sf house . You estimated you'd need maybe 10 - 20 gallons and the very best paint costs $80 a gallon. You were expecting at most $1,600 for paint. Too expensive. You have just determined the firm-fixed price to not be fair nor reasonable thorough cost analysis per FAR 15.404(c)(2)(i).
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