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GovtAcctGeek

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  1. @Vern Edwards Time will tell, I suppose; circular logic/definitions aren't very useful, but specific exemptions and examples elsewhere in the FAR and USC Chapters referenced above helped a little! I'd appreciate your thoughts on how you would more specifically / usefully define a service employee besides the circular default of an employee on a service contract is a service employee / a service contract is one that uses service employees [to perform tasks, not deliver an item]. I'd also appreciate your thoughts on practicable ways to work through the time-consuming issue of hundreds of low-dollar SCLS-covered Services actions over the $2,500 threshold. My conclusion for the short term / remainder of FY21 is that the existing Bureau policies and shorthand (using a "blue collar" or "non-professional" rule to distinguish between SCLS covered and SCLS exempted) is the most practicable option moving forward. Additionally, in the medium term, BPA Setups for non-recurring Services up to $10k, payable with Purchase card, is probably the most practicable option moving forward. Thank you again everyone who contributed.
  2. The problem with the FAR's definitions are that they are circular. What's a service contract? One that uses service employees. What's a service employee? One that's in a service contract! That sort of circular logic is neither clear nor helpful. The most specific, the clearest, and most helpful definition is the negative one found in 37.101, which basically says "not a supply contract", and verbatim reads: a contract that directly engages the time and effort of a contractor whose primary purpose is to perform an identifiable task rather than to furnish an end item of supply. I keep coming back to the "blue collar" (or "non-professional" or maybe "skilled trade") rule of thumb because (a) that is what Dept of Labor and Warranted CO's used to explain our Bureau's rule on what is exempt; and, (b) we need some sort of Plain English rule to explain this to cardholders and laypeople, and to save time
  3. So it seems like my Bureau's current interpretation is probably accurate, and the suggestions to make a basic wood cutting contract $10k and put it on a card were incorrect. This is based on y'all's feedback here, the USC and DOL citations above, and also the definitions at FAR 22.1003-1 and FAR 37.101. Basically, any "blue collar" services is still subject to the $2,500 MPT, except for those services explicitly exempted in: 22.1003 22.1003-4 22.1003-4(b)-(d) 37.101 (1)-(9) (DISREGARD) (relevant Dept/Agency-specifics regs, if applicable) As far as ways to minimize the pain of our hundreds of actions per year, many of which are related if not redundant, I think ji20874 hit the nail on the head. I really hope to waste less and less of my and my colleagues' time on these very-low-dollar requirements as time goes by. THANK YOU! I appreciate everyone's input!!
  4. First, THANK YOU Neil, Joel, and Culham for the responses so far, this is useful. I definitely won't hold my breath on regulatory changes that are both intelligent and quick to occur. Second, sorry to seem dense, but I guess I am still wondering where the "blue collar" rule question has been answered? I agree that this is one possible solution, and I've floated it to my management with little response or proactivity on their part. Additional question: Would cardholders be able to place a BPA Call, paid with their Purchase card, without having to submit a PR or insert additional Clauses on each Call? One issue with this solution is that there is a wide variety of things that come up each year that we still don't have good data on, so a few BPA Setups may resolve, say, 20 actions per year, but we have 100+ actions per year that are in the $2.5k - $10k range. Still, 20% fewer full contracts would be an improvement! The "bane of my existence" refers both to the time and frustration of trying to help Purchase card holders responsibly spend without breaking laws / violating regs, but also to the fact that I have no authority to actually remove cards when cardholders screw up (which is daily). Removal authority lies with our infinitely wise but Acquisition-ignorant leadership above me, who believe everybody is entitled to a Purchase card. Additionally, our Purchase Card Policy is about five years expired and I believe still references the MPT from over five years ago, so....there is little guidance or support above me in terms of making the program either (a) compliant with all laws / statutes / regulations / etc or (b) running smoothly through intelligent decisions and clarity on all the various types of thresholds.
  5. Neil, I'm not sure I understand what you're asking with how the FAR became applicable to our state? 41 USC Ch 67 is referenced in FAR 2.101 in saying what Services are subject to the lower MPT. The FAR is what governs us in my Bureau's Acquisitions; we also have Dept-wide regs but they are quite sparse and don't mention MPT. So far as I know, 41 USC Ch 67 and the FAR are both government-wide regs that apply to almost all agencies/bureaus in almost all states (unless there is some exemption).
  6. Sorry, that doesn't really answer the first question - and it raises another one! Down the regulatory rabbit hole we go. Is my Bureau wrong about the "blue collar" rule, in which non-professional / non-creative services all still have just a $2,500 MPT? The second question raised: What would be the benefit of just making payment with Purchase card if most of the other time consuming stuff still is required? IE, if a $3k non-professional Service exceeds the MPT, I can't delegate that purchasing to a cardholder, it has to be handled by one of us in the Acquisitions shop. So, the Requiring Office then must submit a PR (at least a day for them to get that right, typically a week), and we still have to prep Clauses and Provisions and the SF1449 in our contracting software, do a peer review, etc. We could just do oral quotes for soliciting / competing, but the other stuff takes up so much time that it negates any real benefit of just handling payment with a Purchase card.
  7. I work at a small civilian Bureau, have to run the Purchase card program for our state, and I am aware the Micro-Purchase Threshold (MPT) was recently increased for some categories of requirements up to $10,000. However, on another forum post last year regarding an $11,000 tree removal requirement and using vendors not in SAM, another forum user suggested I negotiate down to the newer/higher $10,000 MPT, so it could be put on a Purchase card. At the time (FY-end madness) I thought that was odd, but didn't follow back up then. My Bureau's leadership insists that only some services have an MPT of $10,000, if they are exempted from a $2,500 threshold per 41 USC Chapter 67. The only services that we currently exempt are those that we determine to be professional or creative, per 29 CFR 541.301. When I first started, I inherited our entire state's Purchase card program, which was right after the MPT was increased, during high staff turnover, and a switch to a new card vendor; cue mass confusion. I met with other CO's and a Dept of Labor wage specialist, and the determination (and guidance from above us in the Bureau) was that all "blue-collar", or non-professional and non-creative services, are subject to SCLS / SCA / FLSA and have only a $2,500 MPT. In short, right now at my Bureau, every blue collar requirement over $2,500 cannot go on a Purchase card and must be a contract (or order off an existing vehicle). The $2,500 amount is first mentioned in FAR 2.101, where it's spelled out as: [The MPT] means $10,000, except it means- (1) For acquisitions of construction subject to 40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV, Wage Rate Requirements (Construction), $2,000; (2) For acquisitions of services subject to 41 U.S.C. chapter 67, Service Contract Labor Standards, $2,500; (3) For acquisitions of supplies or services that, as determined by the head of the agency, are to be used to support a contingency operation....[yada yada] The only other time the $2,500 amount is explicitly referenced again is in FAR 22, with a general emphasis being that Service contracts over $2,500 have to have certain Clauses, Previsions, Wage Determinations, and other relevant attachments. Otherwise, just "micro-purchase threshold" is used throughout FAR 5, 6, 12, 13, etc. My question: is my Bureau wrong about the "blue collar" rule, in which non-professional / non-creative services all still have just a $2,500 MPT? I looked at 41 USC Chapter 67, which has these exemptions under para. (b): (b) Exemptions.—This chapter does not apply to— (1) a contract of the Federal Government or the District of Columbia for the construction, alteration, or repair, including painting and decorating, of public buildings or public works; (2) any work required to be done in accordance with chapter 65 of this title; (3) a contract for the carriage of freight or personnel by vessel, airplane, bus, truck, express, railway line or oil or gas pipeline where published tariff rates are in effect; (4) a contract for the furnishing of services by radio, telephone, telegraph, or cable companies, subject to the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.); (5) a contract for public utility services, including electric light and power, water, steam, and gas; (6) an employment contract providing for direct services to a Federal agency by an individual; and (7) a contract with the United States Postal Service, the principal purpose of which is the operation of postal contract stations. The Chapter 65 exemption referenced therein refers to Supplies requirements. Administering the Purchase card program is honestly the bane of my professional existence...whether it is cardholders splitting purchases, cardholders begging to exempt things from the $2,500 MPT, Ratifications in the $9k-$11k range, and PR's in the $2,500 - $10k range - this eats up SUBSTANTIAL hours of my and other CO's time. If the Services MPT was just uniformly $10k, life would be remarkably easier, and I could spend much less time on these abundant low dollar value requirements. It would also make a lot of sense....so I assume that's not how the regs work, and my Bureau's current policy is right. However, I assume that the comments on my other post were just made in error, and my determinations so far, and my Bureau's leadership's determinations, are in fact correct and many services still have only a $2,500 MPT.
  8. I have a question about synopsizing and competing regulations. I work at a civilian Bureau and everything here is about Services that are commercial items using SAP and under the SAT. I already reviewed the helpful forum topic Making Sense of FAR 5.202(a)(11), but that is about Construction, and the other two posts I found were more about large scale acquisitions and IDIQs / Orders. Last year we awarded a $150k contract with 4 line items, 1 base and 3 options, all exercised at time of award, to effectively do a lot of data management and digitization over the course of a year. Line 1 was newer data, line 2 was data older than 5 years, line 3 was data older than 10 years, line 4 was analog stored data. The COR just called me and said they have a lot more data than they first estimated, and the work is progressing fine, but total hours of work required are higher, and they want a Modification to effectively extend the POP by a year and obligate up to $90k more funds for this work. I believe that this would be an in-scope modification because all of the work is the same, it is just ultimately going to be more hours of that work. FAR 5.101(a)(2) says a "contract action" over $25,000 must be synopsized to the GPE. FAR 5.001 defines "contract action" as "an action resulting in a contract, as defined in subpart 2.1, including actions for additional supplies or services outside the existing contract scope, but not including actions that are within the scope and under the terms of the existing contract, such as contract modifications issued pursuant to the Changes clause, or funding and other administrative changes". I feel like this example is covered under FAR 5.202(a)(11), which exempts it by: "proposed contract action is made under the terms of an existing contract that was previously synopsized in sufficient detail to comply with the requirements of 5.207 with respect to the current proposed contract action;". If this is an in-scope Modification, would this count as a "contract action" per FAR 5.001, or is it exempt from FAR 5.101(a)(2) in accordance with FAR 5.202(a)(11)? If we synopsize it to the GPE , would any vendor have reasonable grounds to protest such a Modification if they don't like that it is not being competed as a brand new award? Thank you for any insight you have.
  9. I have a standard level-of-frustration Warranted CO job, grade 9, at a civilian agency. I have an offer to go up to grade 11, but at a high level-of-frustration Contracting Specialist job at FEMA (not signing myself, just prepping under a Warranted CO). The work at FEMA sounds immensely more important and meaningful than where I currently am, but also much more stressful, and the commute would be substantially longer. My question for other beginners or more experienced CO's: how do you decide if a pay/grade increase is worth the added stress?? What are the major factors for you? Do you feel like later advancement or laterals after a stressful year at the higher grade could make it worth it to just stick out a tough year?
  10. I am a recently Warranted CO at a civilian Bureau only working in the states (not overseas) that deals with a lot of very low dollar requirements between the Micro Purchase Threshold (MPT) and $15k. I also have to run the purchase card program, but that's an entirely different headache. I currently have an ~$11,000 tree removal project that does not count as unusual and compelling urgency. The only capable vendor, according to the requiring office, is not in SAM. My question is: for things under the $15k threshold, with no synopsizing or publicizing required, and with only oral quotations, and with an attempt to innovate, keep documentation minimal, and be maximally efficient (IAW FAR 13), is there any way to use a non-SAM-registered vendor? I am trying to figure out if there is a way to use purchase card, too, because logically, we are given these tools (Warrants, training, purchase cards, FAR 13, etc) for exactly this reason: to not spend hours and hours on low risk, low dollar, low priority awards. Could one simply have a vendor manually fill out 52.212-3 to get their representations in writing? 52.204-7 System for Award Management, as prescribed at 4.1105(a)(1), must go in "all solicitations" - and it looks like the only real exception an exception under 4.1102(a)(5): Somewhat tangential: these MPT - $15k projects can be very frustrating and time consuming, particularly because the administrative costs are so high relative to other work we have to do, and requiring offices insisting we use "their" "local" vendor who they often talk with for weeks before we get a PR. Being able to streamline and simplify the 100+ requirements like this that we deal with each year would save us hundreds of hours of work.
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