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Vern Edwards

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Everything posted by Vern Edwards

  1. I haven't "seen" it, but see Mine Safety Appliances Company, B-266025, January 17, 1996: Emphasis added. I assume that similar reasoning would apply with respect to the evaluation of past performance in a competitive negotiated acquisition. I can see an offeror being awarded a contract despite poor past performance when it has shown persuasively that it has taken effective corrective action. Much would depend on how the agency described the past performance factor in its RFP and how it would be evaluated. In short, poor past performance is not necessarily fatal.
  2. Oh, for Pete's sake. It's a personal decision. If you can't or don't want to move around, THEN DON'T. Criminy, Joel! Way to go from a big idea to a small one!
  3. Emphasis added. @Voyager Okay. Fair enough. By "personal commitment" I mean, among other things: taking personal responsibility for knowing what you must know and being able to do what you must do in order to be not just competent, but expert; taking inventory of your knowledge and skills and making lists of topics to study and skills to improve, especially basic knowledge and skills; seeking and reading books and articles pertinent (in the broadest sense) to your work and to the work that you hope to do and studying them; taking and maintaining well-organized study notes (see How To Take Smart Notes, 2d ed., by Sönke Ahrens) and reviewing them; practicing skills, such as reading difficult material and writing clearly; getting up early and staying up late to read and to write (you must do both in order to learn); never letting anyone know more about your work than you do; being ambitious for recognition by superiors and colleagues as knowing and being good at what you do; seeking the "hard" tasks (volunteering to "take point"); not settling into a specific job, but moving around in order to gain broader and better experience; working long and hard to do well for yourself, your colleagues, and your organization; and, finally, deciding whether you want to be a professional or just an employee. In short, it means that if you want to be a professional you must devote yourself to your profession. It means wanting and pursuing more than a "modicum baseline" and "just enough." Is that tangible enough, Voyager?
  4. BTW, here is a quote from Johnson's essay, the third paragraph, which might prompt some thoughts about today's contracting rules: Now think about the requirements for certified cost or pricing data and for full and open competition.
  5. I am especially interested in new hires aged 20 - 35. Those aged 36 and up, if properly educated, would not need my advice. By the time I was 36 I already knew I was hopelessly ignorant. I'm 75 now, and still hopelessly ignorant.
  6. @Voyager I do not share your views. I think a professional needs more than a "modicum" and "just... enough." We are not in agreement. Not even close. And I hope that your views are not widely shared by others. If a young contract specialist were to ask me for a reading that would help them on their way to competence, I would tell them to read and study Samuel Johnson's essay, "'Rules' of Writing," written in 1751, or Plato's "Gorgias." You would probably ask what either of those has to do with being a procurement professional. I would say, "Everything." But I don't think you would understand.
  7. @formerfedInteresting that you should say that. I just emailed my next Nash & Cibinic article to the editor and I said much the same. Although I did not always agree with Steve (performance-based contracting), I think he was the best Administrator we've ever had. As for presidents, I think most have been clueless about the effect of procurement policy on their ability to get things done, although the current one has discovered the Defense Production Act. Presidents won't be remembered by improving procurement policy. That's why they don't care who they appoint to be Administrator and whether they are confirmed. Although presidents are "chief executives," they don't think of themselves as the managers of the Executive Branch. But, to be fair, they're just politicians, so what can you expect? Yes. And the way to get that is to improve professional education, training, leadership, and selection. The sad thing is that the government hires some very good people, then disappoints them. @Voyager Experience alone does not create competence. Educators, trainers, leaders, experience, and personal commitment are what create competence. It's a cyclic process. It's never done, and it must never end.
  8. I think you have described the problem perfectly. And I think it's foolish to believe that an acting head of OFPP can solve it. As a country, we no longer seem to believe in the concept that in order to achieve something important you need someone who knows what they're doing and has been given a clear mission and a mandate to do it and to fire anyone who won't or can't follow orders and contribute. I can think of of two persons who exemplify, "I'm in charge. I'm accountable. And you're going to do what I say and get it done or you are gone." And they both achieved a great thing for our country when our country needed it. General Leslie Groves, who was in charge of the development of the atomic bomb, and who hired Robert Oppenheimer to do the science despite opposition to his appointment. Admiral Hyman Rickover, who was in charge of the development of the nuclear submarine, and about whom there is a new biography. There are others of their ilk, military and civilian, who achieved great things, less deadly things, but those two stand out for me, because they were up against it and simply could not fail. But I don't think America believes in such people any more. They are too tough for us as we are now. If you think that having a first-rate contracting workforce is not important, you don't understand the nature of our contracted-out government.
  9. Received an email yesterday with this report from Bloomberg Government: "US Procurement Agency Seeks New Staff, Better Worker Retention By Patty Nieberg | June 21, 2022 4:04PM ET Septuagenarians outpace Gen Z in federal buying workforce Hiring challenges coincide with procurement delays Acquisition workforce changes are a top priority for Leslie Field, a White House official tasked with improving federal procurement policy. The cohort of federal procurement professionals is aging, while agencies face challenges competing with the private sector to recruit younger workers. There are more people 70 and older than there are people under 25 years old working in federal procurement, Field said at the Professional Services Council’s Federal Acquisition Conference on Tuesday. Overall, only 7% of the acquisition workforce is under 30 years old. 'These statistics make a pretty compelling case to make our workforce a top priority—both the pipeline, the recruitment, the development, and the retention,” she said.'" Emphasis added.
  10. In a contract for food service the unit of performance is ordinarily a type of meal—breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe snack. The unit price is the price of a particular kind of meal. The contractor is paid for the number of meals served of each type. The agency may have included a staffing requirement in order to ensure timely service at meal-times and during post-meal cleanup. If the contract is not clear about the staffing requirement it could lead to conflict if the company tries to increase its profits by cutting the number of staff on hand.
  11. l cannot say much about the contract you have described, because the description is not clear. But I will say the following: First, in general, some IDIQ contracts require the contractor to perform custom services on order, such as studies or equipment repair; others require the contractor to perform standard jobs on order, such as routine equipment maintenance. Second, IDIQ contracts for custom services should not include a work statement. They should include only a description of the scope of the contract, i.e., the kinds of custom services that may be ordered. Work statements are included in individual orders. IDIQ contracts for standard jobs should include a standard work statement for each standard job that may be ordered. Individual orders should refer to the appropriate standard work statement. Third, IDIQ contracts do not have a contract price. Instead, they include unit prices, maximum quantities or dollar values, and minimum quantities or dollar values. IDIQ contracts for custom services should include task input unit prices, usually labor rates and the prices of materials. Those unit prices are used to price individual orders based on the kind and quantity of input to be provided and the outcome to be achieved. IDIQ contracts for standard jobs should include task output unit prices, i.e, a price for performing each kind of standard job. While the above is generally true, there are some strange "IDIQ" contracts out there in the contracting jungle. The one you have described sounds like one of those. I do not understand the IDIQ contract that you have described. I cannot understand why an IDIQ contract, under which a contractor is obligated to perform only on order, whether for custom services or standard jobs, would include a "staffing matrix." That seems to indicate that the contractor is required to keep some staff "on call" as it were. That's not consistent with IDIQ contracting. And I cannot understand why an IDIQ contract would have a "contract price." A minimum quantity/value and a maximum quantity/value, yes. But not a price. The notion of a "final contract price" at the time of contract award is inconsistent with IDIQ contracting as I know it. Speaking for myself, I cannot point you in the "right direction," because I do not recognize and understand the contract that you have described. But what I think you might have is a staff augmentation contract under which the agency wants the contractor to keep a specified staff on hand to do work when and as directed. As such, while it may include IDIQ contract clauses, it would not be designed to work like a true IDIQ contract, which does not require the contractor to do anything except as ordered. What may be happening is that the contractor is assigning people to work under the contract part-time as needed, but the agency expects the staff to be dedicated to the contract full-time and thinks that's what it is paying for. Now the agency and the contractor are in disagreement about what its obligations are. The contractor thinks staff assignments are none of the agency's business as long as it does what the agency tells it to do. I'm just speculating, but am I close?
  12. That's extreme. The FAR guiding principles suggest no such thing.
  13. I guess I discredited you with "Hear! Hear!" As for editing my post, yes. I thought things through and changed my words. I do it all the time. (Like just then.) Is that what you call hedging my bets? If so, you should try it. And Carl, you discredit yourself by taking extreme positions. You made your best point in this thread with your first post. It's still a good point.
  14. @joel hoffmanWhat's amusing about this is that my first comment in this thread was to agree with him. But then he went overboard with "After all you hedge your bets all the time," and "jump in the pool you will like it." My writing speaks for me. He can have the last word.
  15. I was swimming with whales before you knew how to dog paddle.
  16. @formerfedWell, you got him to "It just depends!" That's something.
  17. Emphasis added. Are you saying that because all they want is a quote, instead of a proposal, that a CO cannot establish a TEP? If so, I disagree. That would be going too far. An agency seeking a quotes in a single acquisition using simplified acquisition procedures might be seeking to acquire products and services much more complex than lawn car and sprinkler maintenance. If so, two TEPs might be appropriate. I agree that for lawn care and sprinkler maintenance, two TEPs seem needless. But don't try to turn that into some kind of general rule against it. Again, don't go too far!
  18. @C CulhamYour point is that a TEP for lawn and sprinkler maintenance is dumb. I agree. But ji20874's point is that we were not asked for an opinion in that regard. We were asked what is the CO's authority to require two TEPs. That question has been answered.
  19. Emphasis added. Actually, the OP's question was not about the necessity for two teams. It was about the CO's authority to require two teams. If the procurement will be conducted under FAR Part 15, and if the CO is the SSA, which is to be presumed in the absence of information to the contrary, see FAR 15.303(a), then the CO's authority to require two separate evaluation teams is FAR 15.303(b)(1) and (2). If the procurement will be conducted under FAR Part 13, then the CO's authority is FAR 13.106-2(b), previously cited by Don. I agree that commerciality has nothing to do with the CO's authority to require two TEPs. There are the requested FAR references. I say that the question has now been answered.
  20. You didn't answer my question. 🤔 I wonder, given where you are in terms of knowledge and experience, whether that's where you should start your education. I wonder whether you know enough to "establish a baseline." But I don't want to push. Best regards.
  21. With so little background education, do you think you and the other new hires will understand the agency's policy, its proper application, and the reasons for it?
  22. @newbiefed2Is the job you have now your first experience with contracting in either government or the private sector?
  23. Performance-based contracting (performance-based acquisition), PBC or PBA, and its accessory idea, the performance work statement (PWS), are failed OFPP initiatives of the early 1990s. They grew out of an Air Force concept from the late 1970s that the Air Force ultimately abandoned. But those ideas were pushed by clueless people without hands-on experience who did not think critically. Unfortunately, they sold the ideas to Congress, a hopeless entity if ever there was one. Now many offices write what they call "performance work statements," which, in reality, are nothing of the sort. Pointless. I've written thousands of words about it, and many among the enlightened know that what I have said is true. The SOO concept, as originally conceived, had nothing to do with PBC/PBA. It was developed for major systems acquisition. But it was seized upon by OFPP in the mid-to-late 1990s when they finally realized that government folks could not write real PWSs. They thought that contractors could do it. So they seized upon the SOO idea as a source of salvation. But contractors couldn't write PWSs either. The SOO is a good idea, but it cannot solve the PWS problem, and requires some know-how. When old timers like me have passed on, this kind of history will be lost, and people will relive it, thinking it's new.
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