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Mike Twardoski

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Everything posted by Mike Twardoski

  1. I learn something new everyday. Thanks for the feedback and insight, Vern! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  2. Thanks for sharing, Bob. I'm on the final chapter of The Government-Industrial Complex: The True Size of the Federal Government 1984-2018 by Paul C. Light, so seeing the speech was fascinating, both as a contracts professional and a history buff. It makes me wonder what Ike would say about not only the FAR, but of Silicon Valley, which operates outside the influence of federally-backed R&D. Would he view that as a blessing or curse of the military-industrial complex?
  3. Can anyone share any tips for building & strengthening relationships with your Government contracting counterparts in a delay-heavy environment? I'm on the industry side, and joined a new program about 2 months ago that's been plagued by a series of late hardware deliveries, most due to supply chain issues. Many of my communications to the customer so far have been notifying them of these misses, and our plans for mitigating. Beyond that, I'm trying to develop good working relationships with my PCO, specialist & COR, with limited success so far (COR is great, PCO & specialist are hard to get a hold of). I've spoken with my predecessor about it, and he essentially told me "that's the way it's always been." I've never particularly cared for that mindset, so I'm trying to figure out some solutions. I've spoken with my PCO on other issues, but have not received his buy in on a regular tag up to review ongoing issues/concerns. What are some ways a contracts lead in industry can bridge the gap, so to speak, with his Government counterparts? What are some ways he can make things easier for the Government? What do they really care about in this environment? What solutions can I offer my counterparts? I'm still semi-new to Government contracting, so I'm open any ideas or suggestions from some of the more seasoned folks here on this board. P.S. My supply chain POC recently told me "I'd hate to be in contracts right now. You're not going to deliver anything on time for the next 5 years." Yay.
  4. This discussion reminds me of a book I just finished - The Good Life and its Discontents: The American Dream in the Age of Entitlement. Granted, it's from 1995, but it's a truly enlightening read about how Americans, once accepting of some common setbacks (unemployment, job insecurity, retirement worries), are no longer willing to stomach those pitfalls. Or anything like it. So Government has been pressed into service as the end all solution for so many things. As such, Government programs have continued to expand since post-WWII, and are rarely rolled back because of the political clout of the stakeholders. So what if a given Government program is essentially failing, expensive, or obsolete? Benefits (Social security is discussed at length) that have been granted to Americans are now seen as "rights," even to those who don't need them (like the wealthy over-65 crowd). A few other social programs that provide the so-called safety net to folks are rarely reworked or reimagined; rather, more cash is thrown at it, lest strong political constituencies start making noise. Pain avoidance over pain tolerance.
  5. I'm never disappointed whenever I poke into Recommended Reading First, thank you for the book recommendation, @Vern Edwards. Another one to add to the never-ending stack. And @here_2_help, your story really resonated with me. Back in my hiring manager days, curiosity was a key characteristic I sought for new hires, but only after I had been burned by focusing on those with the best qualifications. One candidate, in particular, was extremely accomplished, and on paper, probably the smartest person I'd ever interviewed. She resigned 8 months later, and was in the midst of a performance improvement plan that already wasn't going well. I contrasted her performance with that of another recent hire who didn't have the traditional background or qualifications, but always asked great questions. Questions that actually gave me pause and sometimes required me to re-examine how we did things. Curiosity is a wonderful trait, and to me, it aligns with the "hire for attitude, train for skill" approach.
  6. @General.ZhukovI think this analogy is apt. What constitutes excess profit? One could argue that if adequate market research is conducted - whether by a consumer or the USG - then caveat emptor. If I buy a premium product like a Porsche, part of the "bargain" is that I'll need to pay premium prices for replacement parts. What's $200 to someone who probably paid >$100K for a Porsche? I hate resorting to worn phrases, but context is important. And this. Scarcity is a huge driver of cost. If I was in the start-up business, I'd take a deep dive into what companies like Transdigm are producing and try to offer a competing product. Sell the heck out of it to whomever in the acquisition office will listen, and angle for a competitive procurement. Then again, if I were in the start-up business, I'd probably run as far and as fast away from an industry as heavily-regulated as Federal contracting. #sadbuttrue
  7. @joel hoffman Indeed, it's a proposal for a new, follow on contract. Thank you for the advice and insights!
  8. Thanks for the tip, @joel hoffman. Forgive my ignorance, but how does one go about starting that partnering process? Is it a pre-negotiation conference? I'm very interested in learning more.
  9. Great insights, @Matthew Fleharty. Much appreciated! At the moment, we're about 2 months away from the start of negotiations. The PCO invoked 252.215-7008 ONLY ONE OFFER (JUL 2019) shortly after we submitted our proposal last summer, so we're in the process of circling back and getting new, compliant quotes from our suppliers for the CCoPD submission, which is taking a fair amount of time. I read - and re-read, and then bookmarked - your comments about transparency & expectations. which I found especially enlightening. Our team is working with a contracting office we have no experience with. As you might expect, suspicions are heightened from our end. The idea of setting expectations and responsibilities at the start is something that certainly resonates, at least with me. Thank you again, Mr. Fleharty!
  10. Thank you, @Vern Edwards & @C Culham. I have some more reading to do!
  11. Thanks for the insights, @Matthew Fleharty! I think the conditions surrounding trust, top management support, etc. are present considering this is a long-running program with a solid rapport between us and the customer. I'm sure there are issues in our blind spot that'll unravel as we go, but I think we have a good foundation at the moment. You spoke about negotiating some multiple large sole source contracts quite rapidly. What are the keys to achieving that beyond trust, commitment, and focus? Could you share any lessons learned? Thank you @Jacques and @C Culham for your feedback as well!
  12. I'm on the industry side of a recent proposal in which the ETA for award is about one year out. Because there is a push on our side to get it awarded by the end of the year, there's been some discussion about using Alpha Contracting, which I'm not familiar with. I read these articles to try to get some insights, and wanted to know if anyone had any first hand experience and could share any pro tips or pitfalls. Thank you in advance!
  13. Great list, @Vern Edwards! I may pluck a few of those titles and add them to my list.
  14. That's a loaded question, @Vern Edwards Right now, I'm bouncing between Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond, by Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman and The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, by Saifdean Ammous (Christmas present from my brother who's nudging me to invest in Bitcoin). Just about finished with the latter, so I have An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination, by Sheera Frankel and Cecilia Kang on deck. Not too long ago, I revisited your Recommended Books for Government Contracting Professionals, so I have Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads by Joel Best in my queue at the library. By the way, the Recommended Reading discussion on this forum is easily my favorite, if only because it feeds into my insatiable need for reading more books.
  15. @Vern Edwards No doubt the author viewed the Boeing-Douglas merger as the focal point of the path to the crashes. I do, however, think he painted the political decision-making by whomever was in the Oval Office (Clinton's policies were good, those of Reagan, Bush 2, and Trump were bad) as blameworthy as well. The Trump bashing was a typical journalistic crutch, as well. It detracted from a truly compelling story. I would've liked to have seen more context on the merger. Obviously, we've seen plenty of mergers in the Government contracting world over the last 25 years, and I think a semi-deep dive into industry amid this environment would've been enlightening. Either way, the Government's relationship with Boeing post-merger was undeniably incestuous. In terms of that acquisition official who awarded billions in contracts only to be hired away by Boeing, it seemed to highlight the downright corruption that existed between both agencies. That particular story should be a huge spotlight on what you mentioned above: a decline in the quality, but not quantity, of American government. So I'm suspicious of any hypothesis that suggests more regulation is the antidote to bad regulation. Personally, it was difficult to read it without wearing my federal contracting lenses. Government contracting has become enormous, to the point in which it's easy to see how this tragedy developed. To me, that's the biggest issue at play. Corruption exists, to be sure, and some regulation is warranted. But how much? Many discussions on this board center on the monster that's the modern-day FAR. Do we need more of that? I'd argue no. I also say that I wish I had a solution to offer. I don't know what the answer is. Writing-wise, I wholeheartedly agree with you, Vern: Michael Lewis could've knocked this story out of the park! I'm actually amazed that someone who worked the Boeing beat could only offer semi-general perspectives and the occasional anecdotal story as he fleshed out the story. It was an interesting read either way, but I expected more from an "insider," at least in the journalistic sense. Maybe my expectations were too high
  16. Thanks for the suggestion, Vern. I got around to reading this during the holidays. Once you get past the author's obvious ideological biases (Republicans bad, Democrats good! Capitalism bad, unions good!), the book does pose an interesting question: is more regulation good or bad? The author's answer is a resounding yes, but those of us who work in the Government contracting world may disagree - and some of us, vehemently. Safety regulations are one thing, but how do you execute that oversight successfully? Would greater vigilance by a better-staffed FAA actually have averted the 737MAX disasters? Possibly. It certainly couldn't have hurt. How much regulation is too much? And how are you going to staff accordingly? Is a "bigger" FAA the solution? I'm wary about quick and easy answers to complex systems, which the author seemed to reach fairly easily within a 262 page book about one company. The book seemed to veer straight into the well-worn concept that government oversight will cure all ills. To Vern's point above, if anything, it should make you question any idealistic notions one has about government (most people already question corporations/industry as it is). The internal business pressures faced within Boeing that, in the author's opinion, led the company to cut corners on safety aren't unique. I'd hazard a guess there are similar pressures faced with many companies. To say that's the driving force behind two fatal crashes would be to overlook the more mundane causes (negligence being the greatest factor, in my opinion, with complacency and incompetence not far behind). Unfortunately, those themes are prevalent everywhere in the business world, and I'm sure they existed even before the author began his beat at Boeing, contrary to the "good ol' days" sub-narrative. Again, how you mitigate those themes in an industry that literally holds people's lives in their hands is something that requires a more comprehensive investigation. Overall, it was a decent book with good details about the financial and cultural shifts at Boeing in the years leading up to the crashes. However, toward the end, the investigative narrative (which was compelling) lost steam before it drifted into the emotional, which unfortunately allowed the author a soapbox at the very end ("It would say Boeing got away with murder.")
  17. Thanks for sharing, Vern. The story is similar in industry, at least from what I've seen. One of first things my program lead said to me when I joined the company 2 years ago is that ~50% of our workforce is going to retire in the next 3-5 years. And the number of folks I've seen leave since has only reinforced that notion. Perhaps because of this, there's a huge focus on mentoring at my place. As for me, who happens to fall into that 0-4 years of Government Contracting experience bucket, I've embraced that focus. I'm getting so many great insights from my seasoned colleagues. That experience shouldn't go to waste once they leave. In fact, the more I learn, the more I enjoy this field. Granted, does the increasing number of new folks slow things down? Of course, and it always will. But if you make good hiring decisions, and nurture that talent, processes will begin to accelerate eventually. At least I hope so.
  18. I've attended a couple of webinars this week on the topic, and the prediction on enforcement seems to be similar to how FAR 52.223-6 Drug-Free Workplace is enforced...which from my view, isn't all that much. We shall see. I've heard my Government counterparts lament that they're busier than ever (for both COVID and non-COVID related reasons), so adding enforcement to the plate would seem to be very low priority. There aren't any reps or certs yet, so presumably, the Government will have to take a contractor's word for it when it comes to attesting its workforce is 100% vaccinated. Consequences for non-compliance? Seems like potential negative CPARS, Past Performance hits, and the possibility of whistleblowers coming to the fore.
  19. Listened to the first 2 episodes, and I'm hooked. Thanks for sharing, Don!
  20. True, but when >40% of the country as a whole isn't fully vaccinated, requiring industry to be 100% within 2 months seems unreasonable to me. Mind you, I have no beef with the spirit of the EO. I'm not a part of that >40% of the population, so it doesn't impact me on a personal level. I just think there's going to be some fierce pushback based upon my own observations. Agreed! How are PCOs going to enforce this?
  21. My company is worried as well. The DoD deviation was just released, and we're bracing for it in coming awards and mods. There's a fear that PCO's will go all in on this deviation apply it to every award and mod they issue. And I get it, given the tone of the EO. But, requiring all covered contractor personnel to be vaccinated within 2 months seems an ambitious mandate, diplomatically speaking. Feel like there's going to be some fierce pushback from industry on this...
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