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brian

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Posts posted by brian


  1. I'm an old guy with a bad memory,

    but I think the requirement to register with FBO in order to be listed as an interested vendor goes back at least 5, maybe 10 years.

    PBK,

    if you want to do a sole source, and the rationale is weak sauce, you could unduly restrict competition by limiting access to information for anyone but your preferred source. Fewer chances of a protest.

    Or,

    if there is a history of improper collusion among bidders on a requirement,

    not telling bidders who their competition is could help.

    Otherwise, go ahead and open the door up to competition, if you believe competition is good.


  2. ....

    For this reason (among others), I like to tell contractors not to include any information that is not part of their actual proposal. I don't care about your cover letters, your business-development history, how awesome you are, or how fancy your colored charts are.

    In addition to wasting the Government's time, contractors are hurting themselves because they take up 10-20 pages of the page limit of their proposal. If it's not directly pertinent to meeting the terms of the RFP, don't include it.

    They hardly ever listen though.

    so, I've seen those extravagant proposals from both sides.

    For PAE, I was the technical lead writer on a proposal that won a $ 57 M Base Ops contract in the early 1990's.

    In the early 2000's, I was the BUDS (Small Biz Specialist) reviewing SB aspects of proposals for the largest Kt in the Dept of the Interior, $ 300+ M over 5 years.

    .

    .

    Your Offerors believe that the "how awesome we are" stuff is what ultimately decides who gets the contract.

    You say you don't believe it, and I believe you.

    But I think yer wrong.

    .

    ps: based on my anecdotal experience,

    I think it is rare for a government requiring activity or contracting official to do adequate market research.

    even when you guys issue an RFI,

    you minds are already made up,

    and you don't want to hear about better ways of doing what you've been doing the same way for years.

    stubborn denial that you aren't as "expert" in your area of expertise as you tell your peers ?

    been burnt by taking risks in the past ?

    who knows. who cares.

    Contractors will put whatever they can into a proposal to show that they are the best value.

    the line about "wasting the government's time" is a classic.

    is it to save the government's precious time that you guys don't do proper market research,

    except to ask your preferred incumbent what they think ?

    .


  3. its much worse than that report suggests.

    Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan often tell those of us who never went there

    how they, their unit and the US Army won the battles they were involved in,

    or would have won, if only this or that.

    To a disinterested observer,

    I think its clear we lost both wars.

    But soldiers in the field get fed so much baloney by their Chain of Command that they eventually come to believe it.

    The problem is with the Generals.

    The last honest one was canned in 2002 for saying the invasion of Iraq would not be a cake walk.

    The other Generals saw what happened to him, and adjusted accordingly.


  4. as a firm believer in the Protest as a tool to get relevant information that was not provided in a debriefing,

    but should have been,

    I am confident that a protest in this matter would be timely.

    Heck, they just learned why they would want to protest 2 days ago.

    One can argue that, by not requesting a debriefing, they might have learned this info at some earlier date, but didn't due to their failure.

    But try to fix that date when they would have been debriefed, and then add 10 days.

    GAO has said that not giving a debriefing is not protestable.

    Try to show that they would have learned the reason for protesting in the debriefing. My anecdotal experience suggests that debriefings often skip over problematic areas that might spur protests. I've been told more than once by a CO that they are not allowed to give anything that is not listed in FAR 15.505(e) or FAR 15.506(d.)

    However,

    I don't see how this Protest would be sustained,

    for the reason of CO discretion stated above.

    The losing bidders don't have to agree with the reasoning;

    the GAO just has to decide it was reasonable.


  5. There is no "8(a) program."

    you may be thinking of the "8(a) small business development program."

    Under that program, if you are not small in the NAICS for the particular requirement,

    you are not eligible to compete.

    But if you do submit a bid,

    you are tacitly representing that you are small in that NAICS.

    That is enough to kick you out of the program.

    On the other hand,

    maybe nobody will notice.


  6. last week, I saw a notice posted to FBO that said a particular sole source award to a fortune 500 company was also a SBSA.

    I cannot provide the services called for, but emailed the CO to point out that this company, whose name is known to everyone in the USA, had over $ 30 Billion in turnover last year, while the relevant size standard was under $ 30 Million. I sent her a link to back that up.

    The CO replied that the company had self-certified as small, so she was covered.

    So I copied the SBA PCR in the town where that corporation was based. Noting the self-certification, If I had a problem with that, she told me to take it up with the SBA IG.

    That's how some agencies get their 23%, I guess.

    I copied the Agency SADBU, who contacted me Monday to thank me for catching the false claim. He said it was a simple error by a low-level clerk.

    That company has a presence in over 20% of all US homes. They are in a niche where SB's cannot compete. And yet, for 20 years, Agencies have been giving themselves SB credit for awards to this company.


  7. my opinion,

    not based on any citation or research,

    is that the only real problem with unbalanced pricing is the potential to pay too much too soon,

    where the Contractor has collected way more than their effort to date is worth,

    tempting the rare contractor to walk away with the job not finished.

    I've only personally seen that once, in USGS, many years ago, on an 8(a) sole source,

    but the memory sticks with me.


  8. Don,

    You are correct but doing the market research and documenting the file with enough information to survive a protest will add a lot of additional time to every order. So it affects us greatly in time and effort. In addition, the pressure will be on to maximize use of SB to get our numbers back up so I fear that the numbers will take precedence over common sense.

    and I am entitled to my opinion,

    which is that Small Businesses could easily fulfill 50% of all procurement needs, services, supplies and construction, government-wide. The overall Goal of 23% is insulting.

    .


  9. ...

    Remember--if you know what you are doing you can award a contract to anybody you want.

    You can also not award a contract to anybody you don't want. But you have to be smart about it.

    ...

    I don't disagree with the accuracy of that statement.

    But I am troubled that perhaps the leading voice on federal contracting today apparently thinks it is appropriate for a CO to be able to choose whoever they want to get a contract, regardless of the law, regulations or fair play.

    .


  10. my belief:

    in general, a well-informed potential offeror who does not already have an established business relationship with a contracting office will rarely get the professional courtesy of a considered reply to a question about specifics of an issued solicitiation, even when the question is submitted in writing. Even when the question concerns a really obvious error.

    anecdotally,

    I get a lot more respect from a contracting office after prevailing in a protest of one of their boneheaded mistakes.

    anecdotally,

    contracting offices benefit from good protests.

    everyone's time is wasted by bad (not well reasoned or well founded) protests.

    learn the difference.


  11. me,

    I have yet to read a JOFOC that I found persuasive.

    Why does the AF find competition so scary ?

    GSA FSS is intended to subvert the 4 main principles of the FAR:

    • fair and reasonable pricing
    • openness / transparency
    • competition
    • socioeconomic programs

    and is pretty good at that.

    AF contracting culture is thoroughly corrupt.

    "what the customer wants" is their only aim.

    nobody in AF contracting is looking out for the taxpayer.

    bigger picture,

    $ 3 M is chump change.

    go after the humongous frauds; ignore this.

    "GG" is not competitive civil service.

    I think all Intel activities use this, so they can avoid the rules for competitive hiring and promotion.

    there is no cronier culture than one that is exempt from oversight.


  12. the Ft Carson contracting office contacted the Diocese of Colorado Springs for a referral (about a year ago.)

    the Bishop's #2 monsignor selected a retired priest with faculties and suggested he bid on it. This monsignor contacted the CO and told them who would be bidding.

    The ordained religious who was referred gets Social Security. that's it.

    The Diocese gives him no pension.

    He is in his mid-70's.

    This priest asked someone with some experience in fed contracts to tell him how to apply.

    the previous priest had done this work for $50 per Mass.

    Ft Carson is 15 miles from where this retired priest lives.

    $50 hardly covers the costs to drive there and back.

    on the advice of that person, the priest bid over $100 per Mass.

    the RFP requires the offeror to be on call 24/7,

    and to go wherever someone needs help,

    but that is not compensated.

    the CO called the Diocese and asked them to pressure the retired priest to drop his price to $50, like the previous priest.

    who quit because it wasn't enough.

    the Diocese did suggest that he bid less, but left it up to the priest.

    the CO chose not to award.

    6 months or so ago,

    the same sequence of events, except it looked like they were going to award at the higher price.

    the priest was required to register through the Archdiocese of Military Services website.

    pretty crappy website, and the deacon who runs it isn't accountable to anyone.

    this old priest did his best to register, and followed up to ask if he had done it right.

    today, 6 months later, deacon . . . still has not replied.

    what's odd to me, also a catholic priest, but not ordained,

    is that the post has 4 or 5 priests in uniform, making $80 to $120 K per year (all in,)

    but begrudge an old man abandoned by the diocese and his flock making enough to pay the costs to commute to work.

    .


  13. I think yer asking if you need to amend the RFP to extend the due date,

    so people have enuf time to respond before proposals are due.

    there's nothin' in law or regulation, except that you should use good judgment.

    In this day of instant communications,

    if you publish Q&A that don't make big changes (what's big ?)

    then over 24 hours (not just overnight) is plenty of time.

    But if you are asking potential offerors who have already developed a competitive proposal to make big (? impact over $ 1 M ?) changes,

    I'd say give them at least 2 full workdays to respond.

    Remember,

    you don't have to answer questions at all, even if they are timely.

    But giving offerors 2 days to respond now, before a contract is signed,

    could get you a better class of offers.


  14. any entity registered in SAM can add any NAICS to their profile.

    what possible sound business reason could there be for requiring something like this ?

    1. Because we always did this.

    2. Because my boss told me to.

    3. Because we want to test to see if offerors are reading the RFP completely.

    4. Because businesses have nothing better to do than a non-value added chinese fire drill.

    5. Because we're the government, and I say so.


  15. Deaner,
    I went to Fort Lee to find out how to handle my "Grant,"

    only to learn that nobody in my entire Field Operating Agency was authorized to award a Grant.

    So we awarded a contract instead, which put more restrictions on the intended recipient, with money sent to us from an activity that could have awarded a Grant, but wouldn't have been able to administer it.

    My impression,

    under a Grant,

    the Grantee can pretty much draw whatever money they want, even before it is expended, unlike in a contract, where payment is made in arrears.


  16. In my limited experience with grants in DOD (USAF, to be specific,)

    a Grant can only be awarded by someone who has been given that authority explicitly.

    A CO Warrant does not authorize someone to award a Grant.

    In general, the Grants Officer has to complete Grants training at Fort Lee,

    at which they will learn when or if they can award a Grant.

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