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General.Zhukov

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Posts posted by General.Zhukov

  1. 34 minutes ago, ji20874 said:

    For your commercial fixed-price contracts, can you make a one-page fillable-form-check-the-box AP template?  Then, check the N/A box as appropriate.  I think a one-page fillable form is far better than a 20-page Word document.

    yes.  You haven't encountered policy people who respond "Good lord no, you have to state how pre-award IBR's don't apply when you're buying another $500K of Microsoft Office licenses."?

  2. Yes, HHSAR does not explicitly say it has to cover "everything" in FAR 7.105.   The actual text leading to the generation of thousands of APs full of mostly empty or otherwise useless content is found in the AP template instructions and the obscure "Directive for the Acquisition Plan." 

    For all acquisitions not requiring SPE review and approval, and are equal to or greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, including task orders under Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts (FAR 7.105),OPDIVs may use this AP Template or their own template which must meet, at a minimum, the AP content requirements outlined in the FAR 7.105 and HHSAR 307.105. 

     

    Which many people interpret to mean, everything in 7.105 must be covered by every AP.   The HHS AP template, which we use in a slightly modified format, has 64 text fields, I counted.  Gotta fill in all 64 text fields, every time, even if this task may be repeatedly pasting in "Does not apply".  In some cases, the AP content does not ever apply- like, never ever, not even once.  Its Pre-Award IBR, we don't do that and the AP has four questions about it.   Yet, we paste in "does not apply" a few thousand times a year.  Its dramatic overkill and makes the process ridiculous.   Many thousands of hours wasted by poor PM's and CORs and such wondering "What is an IBR" and ultimately concluding, yet again, it doesn't apply.  

  3. Situation:

    My Department, HHS, mandates all acquisitions over $250K have a written AP which must cover everything in FAR 7.105.

    My OPDIV (unnamed, but hi Ted if you are reading this) essentially passes down this mandate unchanged.

    My OPDIV does perhaps 95% commercial fixed price contracts, mostly orders using various existing government-wide vehicles (GSA, NITAAC, Best-In-Class, etc.). We very rarely use FAR 15 procedures or award 'contracts'.  

    Results:

    HHS's policy regarding acquisition planning is terrible for my OPDIV, given our actual workload as described above.  Its drastic over-kill given the relatively simple stuff we do.

    • Time-waste 1:  Large swaths of 7.105 are never applicable or extremely rarely applicable to us, yet we have to include them in an AP, every time.
    • Time-waste 2: We get thousands of acquisition plans a year.  Want to buy $500K Dell Computers from NASA SEWP?  You need a 20+ page Acquisition Plan.  Somebody has to waste their time writing, and reading, all those APs.
    • If everything is important, nothing is: Everyone knows much of the AP is completely unimportant, and leads to all involved discounting the importance and usefulness of the AP in its entirety.   
    • Ignoring important stuff: Actual acquisition projects and programs - which cover multiple contract actions - do not have acquisition plans at all.  All the trivial procurements do, but not the project.  For example, the acquisition project is to to acquire a very large Widget.  Our big widget which consists of components A, B, & C,  assembled together by contractor D, and operated by contractor E.  That's five acquisition plans (A,B,C,D & E), but does the acquisition project to get the Widget have an AP?  No.   

    Questions:

    • What the heck was HHS (or anyone involved) thinking? 
    • Is ignoring a thoughtless and counter-productive policy that bad a thing to do?
    • How can the harms be fixed or mitigated, given my higher-up's narrow & literalist interpretation of the policy & the FAR? 
    • If you were involved in Department or OPDIV policy regarding acquisition plans, what do you think?

     

     

  4. On 6/28/2022 at 3:25 PM, Rusty Holden said:

    Can a Subcontractor Charge 2 different Primes a different price for the same material?

    Yes.  Circumstance matter.

    Prime A.  I would like one widget please, delivered ASAP to Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.

    Sub: That will be $50,000/ea.

    Prime B. I would like one thousand widgets, delivery in six months, to the big depot across the street from your factory.

    Sub: That will be $10,000/ea. 

  5. On 5/6/2022 at 11:13 AM, CEE said:

    are we required to appoint a COR for every single DO since the base contract is a service contract? Again, the contractor is strictly delivering supplies under this DO and nothing else.

    The FAR itself doesn't prescribe exactly when a COR must be appointed for FFP.  Note the very large caveat in 1.602-2 "as appropriate."  So, per the FAR, the CO could reasonable determine a COR for your order wouldn't be appropriate.  So the short answer is "No."

    However.. not end of story.  Other regs, policies or whatever could mean you do need a COR in your situation.  For example your department states you need a COR over a certain $ threshold, regardless of contract type. And your order is > $.  Or something about that specific contract or project.  Say, the Program Office wants all orders issued against a particular IDIQ to be assigned a particular COR, for centralized contract admin or whatever. 

    So the longer answer is "No, but also maybe."

        

  6. 20 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

    The most probable cost must reflect the likely cost to each offeror based on its own method of performance.

    Well, this isn't my area of expertise, so I definitely could be wrong about this.

    I think the GVT must determine the probable cost.  GVT cannot take the proposal at face-value, right?   GVT may find that the proposal is, in fact, the most probable cost. But that is a result of mandatory cost realism analysis. 

    In the case of an obviously low-ball proposal, GVT would certainly not agree with whatever the offeror states, and would find that the probable cost is higher (or has offeror has elevated risk, or both).

    Right?

  7. 50 minutes ago, RunDMC said:

    They are insisting the payroll data is the probable cost and satisfies realism.

    That's not how cost realism analysis works. What the offeror gave you is cost information of some type.  That is step 1 of a 3 step process.

    1) Gather cost information

    2) Do cost realism analysis, which has two big parts

    a) Identify understated costs/prices

    b) estimate probable cost.  Defined as " the Government’s best estimate of the cost of any contract that is most likely to result from the offeror’s proposal."

    3) Use results of cost realism analysis for evaluation and source selection.

     

    Taking cost info from the offeror, and stating "it is the probable cost and satisfies cost realism" is either, in my opinion:

    1) False.  Since the Government did not in fact generate a probable cost estimate, and did not perform the analysis.

    2) True.  Which is also false.  Because if that statement is true, it means Government did generate a probable cost estimate and found the offeror's proposed cost to be exactly correct, and completely realistic.  Which, of course, isn't what happened.     

     

    Take a gander at https://www.dau.edu/pdfviewer?Guidebooks/CPRG/CPRG-Volume-4.pdf Chapter 8, which goes over Cost Realism is excruciating detail.  Better yet, send it to your lawyers and have them read, no doubt for the first time.

  8.  

    Assume you have no constraints or nuance of any type, can do whatever you like here, and are simply choosing between 

    a) New order for CY2, or

    b) Mod existing order to add funds for CY2.

    Then I think a) is the better practice.  Its simpler. The documentation is cleaner and easier to follow.  Doing a mod, perhaps to avoid the paperwork involved in issuing a new order, is adding complexity.   And that's something to avoid. 

     

    Of course, there is no such thing as "no constraints."  The most obvious one is what you referenced - Severable services contracts obligating appropriated funds cannot have a PoP exceeding one year. 

  9. Very skeptical about that IG report.  

     

    A single manufacturer of specialized parts purchased mostly, perhaps exclusively, by the US Government.  The buyer procures these items in small quantities as needed (so it seems from IG report).

    There is a large risk / opportunity cost for the manufacturer here.  Accordingly, a large profit when it pays off. 

    Don't like those high prices?  Don't buy in the least cost-effective way possible.    

    I doubt cost analysis accounts for the opportunity cost of the manufacturer.    Must be some (likely substantial) cost for the manufacturer to keep making and storing these widgets, just so the (single?) buyer can purchase a few whenever they need them.   

    Monopsony - Monopoly pricing is going to be messy and probably sub-optimal for one or both parties.  Econ 101 here.  

       

     

    Analogy: A family member has a really nice vintage Porsche.  He needed some rando part for the engine.  From what I gather, this part is exclusively used by a few models of Porsche made in the early 2000s.  This part (forget its name or what it does, not a car guy) is literally a small piece of metal - no moving parts.  Weights a pound or two.   The material costs couldn't have been more than a few dollars.   The Porsche mechanic in our area had one in stock, and charged (approximately, this was a few years ago) $200.    $200 for a $5 part.    $5 for the part.  $195 for having a small retail warehouse of obscure German car parts located within a short driving distance.   This would be excess profit, no?

  10. As an addendum to this discussion,

     

    True story about the last time I had to deal with travel on a contract.

    Travel was a topic of discussions with the contractor and program office.  It was all very confusing to them, and if I am being honest, to me too.  We were going around in circles, not entirely unlike this thread.  Ultimately, the contractor proposed that travel should just be FFP.   We crunched numbers and came to something like $1,500 per "travel event."   If the contractor flew on a private jet, we don't care.  If they eat ramen and stayed in their sister's spare bedroom, we also don't care.  Made program happy, because this makes travel like an optional FFP line item - something they know and understand (unlike ODC).

    This was a commercial open-market services & software contract valued at about a $1M.  Did not use FAR 15 procedures.  So far as I could tell, what we did was legal and compliant, and resulted in a fair and reasonable price.  Although I wouldn't bet my paycheck on that.         

  11. On 10/25/2021 at 8:15 PM, Corduroy Frog said:

    Contracting officers not wanting to pay G&A on travel.

    OK, CO's aren't avaricious. They are risk-averse.  

    Pro Tip 1: If we are talking about a commercial contract, don't call it "G&A."  As others have noted, very explicitly cite 212-4 Alt 1.

    Pro Tip 2:  When conducting price analysis for a competitive commercial contract, which includes travel as part of T&M line item, nobody cares about your "G&A" rate on travel.  Honestly, just make it zero, and mark up some other T or M element (legally and following the rules, of course), so net change is zero.

     

    For the record, CO here who dislikes travel as ODC in my commercial contracts.  Because:

    1) The line item including travel is now T&M, which

    • triggers some rather onerous procedures per 12.207 (b).  In particular, getting HCA approval if the PoP > 3 years.  
    • makes the contract no longer fixed price.  Executive dashboard KPI needles move, in the wrong direction.

    2) If the conditions of 12.207 (b) (1) (i) - basically, it must be competitively awarded - cannot be met, then T&M, and therefore travel, is verboten, or its not commercial.

    3) I do not like dealing with, and know very little about, indirect costs.  For example, G&A vs. Material Handling.  What's the difference?  Do I even need to care for competitive commercial contracts?  I'd rather not think about it at all.

    4) My customer, the requiring activity hates, just hates, both

    • obligating money upfront for theoretical travel which may never occur AND
    • not obligating money upfront for actual travel which needs to happen but for which there is no longer sufficient remaining money. 

     

     

  12. On 9/23/2021 at 10:27 AM, Witty_Username said:

    Solicitation to award is a very industry-focused definition of PALT, because it represents the time when offerors have their resources tied up in a proposal. It's probably not particularly meaningful to a program office or contracting office at all. Incentivizes contracting offices to minimize proposal preparation time and to award without discussions.

    The time from receipt of a "procurement-ready package" to award is a contracting office focused-definition of PALT. Also probably not very meaningful to a program office who can't get a procurement-ready package in the door. Incentivizes contracting offices to not "accept" less than perfect packages, which may well actually increase overall requirement satisfaction lead time for the program office.

    The time from identification of a need through delivery is a program office-focused definition of PALT and probably what really should be incentivized. But it's too broad to really assign responsibility for to a single entity (assuming the program office and contracting office are separate) so it's probably hard to do.

    This is what I was going to write, except its already been written.  Amen.

    I have an action right now that I am about to award, this is its actual timeline:

    • Identification of need  -> 'acquisition package' to contracting office:  Maybe 2 months
    • Receipt of Acquisition Package -> Solicitation: 3 months
    • Solicitation - Award: 2 weeks

    What is the PALT here?  

  13. I suspect DoD just wants better contracting writing software, and felt obligated to add a buzz word.  I don't think this document would be much different if AI were swapped out with another trendy tech

    "Machine Learning CWS"

    "Blockchain CWS"

    "Robotic Process Automation CWS"

     

     

    Mark my words, some of us will still be 1102s when we see RFIs for

    "Open Source CWS" -  My opinion is that this should have happened 20 years ago.  

    "Augmented Reality CWS"

    "Quantum Computing CWS"

     

  14. On 9/10/2021 at 12:05 PM, Dot said:

    Anyone have any advice, reference, anything that can prove that this is allowed?

    You're right about the regs.  Its allowed (I think).  But...

    The problem is not what any particular reg does or does not state, its what the COR thinks they state.  Talking to the COR will be more productive than trying to prove a negative (that the FAR, et all. does not prohibit them doing a PPQ).

  15. On 9/10/2021 at 10:54 AM, NewbieFed said:

    I can't figure out how to classify it.

    Irrespective of what you are buying, three methods to finding an appropriate PSC.

    1) Ask the seller.  If they are experienced with the federal government, they'll know.

    2) Reference previous contracts for the same thing, and see what PSC was used then.  In house contracts or FPDS.

    3) Punt.  Ask Program Office.  If particularly important and difficult, ask for help from Legal.  

  16. This overlaps with the much ballyhooed 'Smart Contracts.'  Which run on the blockchain, the blockchain I tell you, blockchain!  /sarcasm

    Smart contracts execute pre-determined actions when predetermined conditions have been met and verified.  Basically, (if -> then) contracts that are entirely outcome driven.  Much research these days looking into how smart contracts can be used by Government agencies, and presumably some of that research is about funding and legal authority. 

    Also, https://govlab.hks.harvard.edu/pay-success

  17.  

    See Veterans Healthcare Supply Solutions, Inc. B-409888.  Quote, from GSA: "If the procurement at issue is for a single SIN, then it would stand that both/all members of a CTA would need to have the particular SIN on their respective FSS contract."  

    My very unofficial understanding of this protest and how CTA's work is:

    1) Despite the quote, my position is that a CTA member who does not hold the referenced SIN isn't necessarily ineligible.  The CTA's proposal would need to demonstrate how the CTA member helps provide the solution.  Like, for a given HACS need, I could see how a solution may involve closely-related SINs (like CDM or PKI) and have a CTA member who has those SINs, but not the cybersecurity.   In contrast, I doubt a CTA member who has a unrelated IT SIN (say, A/V equipment) could legit join a CTA for cybersecurity.  

    2) This protest is from 2014, and GSA has changed how the schedules work since then, so this reasoning may not be fully valid in 2021.

    3) The solicitation matters, since it can customize what types of CTAs can respond.  For example, an RFQ may state that all CTA members must hold a specific SIN.     

    4) There are lots of protests about CTAs.   

     

     

     

     

  18. On 9/2/2021 at 8:47 AM, NASA CO said:

    I have consulted everyone i know including CO's and Lawyers and the answer is this isn't a legal contract mod.

    In terms of the basic legal part, you definitely CAN enact a contract mod to increase the value from $385M to $1B, under the right circumstances.  Such as getting the funds to cover the increase, and getting God-level approval for a huge, non-competitive, out-of-scope modification (possibly an equitable adjustment?) that reflects poorly on everyone involved, having OIG parachute in, and other unpleasant things.  

    Basically, you want stuff that you thought would cost $10.  And now it seems like it will cost $30.  As Vern notes, you have limited options:

    1) Get another $20

    2) Get only about 1/3 of the stuff you had planned on getting.

    3) Pick up your marbles and go home (terminate, find a different means of acquiring the stuff).

    Quarrelling about whose at fault for the variance between $10 & $30, stalling for time, or being unhappy with situation won't change these options. 

     

  19. As everyone else here has noted, don't mix FAR 15 and FAR 8.4. 

    Vern's quoted GAO decision has the key phrase - " fair and equitable."

    What's important is not so much what the CO tells to one particular offeror, but rather how the CO treats the offerors with respect to each other.   Whatever criteria the CO uses to engage with one vendor should be used for all vendors.   This isn't complicated, nor does this criteria need to be mechanistically implemented.  The CO's criteria could be quite straight-forward 'I'm not going to bother telling offerors about 'weaknesses' that are unlikely to have an impact on who gets awarded."     

    In your case, what the CO is doing regarding 'discussions,' while not the preferred method (using FAR 15 procedures), does appear to be 'fair and reasonable' because they are treating the offerors the same.

    Usual caveats apply.

  20. Agree with the grey beards 😁

     

    Its is not a competition issue.  FAR 13: Contracting officers may solicit from one source if the contracting officer determines that the circumstances of the contract action deem only one source reasonably available

    Your circumstance: This order fixes a mistake. We bought the wrong size product, returned product to vendor, have credit, and now want to use credit to buy correct size product from same vendor.

    I can't speak to the mechanics of how credits in ECATS work, but in my experience, every procurement system has a way of dealing with 'oops. we bought the wrong thing and want to exchange the wrong thing for the right thing.'  You can explain the vendor that simply they have your money, you have nothing in exchange, and they either give you your money back or give you the product you want, figure it out. 

     

  21. 1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

    @General.ZhukovGeorgy, I think you're spot-on.

    (Have you heard about the new book by Dimbleby, Operation Barbarossa: The History of a Cataclysm (June 2021)? Also, I just watched part of a 1985 Russian film by Elem Klimov about Russian partisans during the Nazi invasion entitled, "Come and See." 97%/95% at Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1036052-come_and_see . Not available for streaming yet. Realistic. Grim. Very grim.)

    I have read many books on the Eastern Front (no surprise) - but not that one.  I'll check it out.

    Come and See.  As a combat veteran, its one of the few war movies I can tolerate, but I will probably never watch it again.   The sound design is incredible, like nothing else.  I've heard about a similar film 'The Ascent' - but haven't built up the fortitude to watch it.

  22. 9 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

    No.

    Agree.

    Remember that complexity vs. complicated discussion?  Well, the word 'subcontract' appears in the title of 21 clauses, and a total of 1,771 times in FAR 52. 

    I suspect prime contractors add 52.219-9 because they (reasonably) read the application in 19.708 and think 'well, that's us.' - rather than wading through that complexity.    

  23.  

    21 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

    I am trying to determine whether acquisition reform efforts have failed because the reformers have thought of the acquisition system as merely needlessly complicated, when in fact it is unavoidably complex and adaptive. Thinking that it is merely complicated, they try to simplify it through rule reform. But if it's complex and adaptive, then simplification and rule reform won't work, in part because complex and adaptive systems are subject to emergence, which defeats rules.

    I want to see if anyone else here has thought along those lines, and I want to learn what if any conclusions they have reached. Because I think that my thinking about this has been, in the words of Dylan, "limited and underfed."

     

    I wonder if this is true.  My policy analysis training wants me ask 'failed compared to what?'  I want to compare the US fed acq system to other systems.  Are comparable acquisition systems - large states like CA, TX or NY, or overseas with vaguely similar legal structure like UK, EU, AUS, or Canada - 'better than' the US FAR system? By what metrics would the FAR way be better or worse? Someone, somewhere, has done this comparative analysis.  

     

     

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