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Don Mansfield

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Posts posted by Don Mansfield

  1. BostonStrong,

    I never thought about commercial subcontracts. I just looked at the particular clause and saw if it required flowdown to subcontracts. I would have to add a column for flowdown to commercial subcontracts. That wouldn't be that difficult. I'll put it on my list of things to do. Thanks for giving me the idea.

  2. On 7/8/2018 at 5:46 AM, Vern Edwards said:

    I think what Don was trying to get at was whether FAR 15.404-1(d) requires a point estimate of probable cost or permits a range estimate. Do you have to state a particular number or can you say that the probable cost is between X1 and X2 with a specified probability distribution? If it permits such a range estimate, then how do you apply it during tradeoff analysis?

    Not quite. I wanted to see how people would react to information about possible, but less probable, costs. jayandstacey reacted the way I think most contracting people would--they ignored it (I'm not picking on you, jayandstacey). I think standard practice when it comes to cost realism is to determine a most probable cost point and use that when making tradeoff decisions. There's no consideration given to how probable the most probable cost is, and what are the probabilities of other costs. 

    An alternative to using the most probable cost is to use the expected value. This is what Matthew calculated. This takes into account every probable cost and its probability of occurring. Given a probability distribution function, we can calculate the expected value. In my opinion, that's a better number to use when making decisions than most probable cost. 

    There's a good illustration of two different probability distributions in Figure 2 of this article: https://www.dau.mil/library/arj/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/library/arj/ARJ/arj62/Dorey_ARJ62.pdf&action=default

    Using most probable cost, we would favor the red cost estimate. However, if we factor in the probability of the all potential costs, both the blue and red cost estimates are equal. 

  3. 6 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

    The answers to those questions would depend on the reasonableness of the method(s) and data used, which we do not know.

    Assume the method was reasonable. 

    10 minutes ago, here_2_help said:

    To add to Vern's point, Don's problem has omitted significant information regarding the probability distribution of the contractors' costs. Don has provided a probability estimate that the actual value may be $20 million higher than the most probable cost (which I assume is the mean of the distribution), but he has omitted a probability estimate associated with an actual value that is $20 million lower than the most probable cost. We need the distribution around the mean, and the standard deviation, if we are going to play probability games.

    Not in my example. There's only two possible cost outcomes for each offeror.

    Please don't fight the hypothetical. 

  4. Assume you are evaluating cost realism for the award of a competitive cost-reimbursement contract using the tradeoff process. You receive two offers--one from Edwards and one from Hoffman. You've determined that the most probable cost for both Edwards and Hoffman is $100 million. However, the probability of the cost being $100 million dollars differs between the two offerors.

    The probability of Edwards's cost being $100 million is 80%. There's a 20% chance that the cost will be $120 million.

    The probability of Hoffman's cost being $100 million is 60%. There's a 40% chance that the cost will be $120 million.

    For purposes of conducting tradeoffs, what values do you use for Edwards's proposal and Hoffman's proposal?

  5. 1 hour ago, lotus said:

    What happens to the KO's career if puts his foot down, saying "you guys dawdled around too long, and I'm happy to watch you suffer the consequences"?

    Who knows? But, that would be a stupid thing to say. The KO should just explain the facts--for acquisitions under FAR part 6, they don't have the authority to limit competition unless it's justified. A lack of advance planning is not justification for limiting competition. Unless there's a legitimate justification, the problem will have to be solved a different way. Here are some other things we can do...

  6. On 5/9/2018 at 1:26 PM, Vern Edwards said:

    I think you are contemplating a type of "exchange" with an offeror after receipt of proposals that would not be clarification, communication, or discussion as described in FAR 15.306. Is that correct?

    If the exchange must be classified as one of the three, then I think it would be clarification. The purpose would be to enhance the parties' understanding of the prospective contract, allow reasonable interpretation of the proposed contract, but not permit revision of the proposal.

    However, I don't think that such an exchange needs to be classified as one of the three. You've identified a risk that the contracting officer takes when awarding without discussions. This exchange mitigates that risk. I don't see anything in the FAR that would prohibit such an exchange. 

  7. Vern,

    Would you please clarify your position? Are you saying that a contracting officer should talk with a prospective contractor (to ensure common understanding, etc.) before awarding a multi-million dollar contract? Or are you saying a contracting officer should conduct discussions with offerors before awarding a multi-million dollar contract?

    I think a contracting officer could have a professional talk with a prospective contractor to go over terms and conditions in order to try to confirm a meeting of the minds, determine that discussions are unnecessary, and award without discussions. I don't think that would be insane. 

  8. 27 minutes ago, Constricting Officer said:

    FAR 15, while being filled with information for working in other parts, should not be used in the acquisition of simple commercial items/services. Part 12 should be used (FAR 12.102(c)).

    That doesn't make sense. FAR part 12 does not contain a distinct set of procedures for solicitation, evaluation, and award. When using FAR part 12, you do so in conjunction with FAR parts 13, 14, or 15. See FAR 12.203:


    Contracting officers shall use the policies unique to the acquisition of commercial items prescribed in this part in conjunction with the policies and procedures for solicitation, evaluation and award prescribed in Part 13, Simplified Acquisition Procedures; Part 14, Sealed Bidding; or Part 15, Contracting by Negotiation, as appropriate for the particular acquisition. 


  9. 12 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

    Follow up question, though. Why can't a staffing plan, which could be part of a quality control plan, be incorporated into the contract?

    It could, but that would be the antithesis of performance-based acquisition, which is defined as:


    “Performance-based acquisition (PBA)” means an acquisition structured around the results to be achieved as opposed to the manner by which the work is to be performed.

    If I'm concerned about outcomes as opposed to manner of performance, what would be the point of making the staffing plan binding?

    Also, it may not be consistent with customary commercial practice to make a "plan" binding.

  10. On ‎4‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 1:22 AM, ContractingCowboi said:

    I'm saying your staffing plan gives me a decent understanding on whether you're capable of complying with the terms of the contract.

    You're not being responsive to my question. Let's try this:

    True or False: For purposes of evaluating my performance under the contract, it really doesn't matter if I follow my staffing plan--what matters is that I comply with the contract terms.

  11. 6 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:


    The governmental side of the house does this consistently (past procurements I have examined). Most commercial entities have their own employees and vehicles for the service or they have the ability to complete the test on-site at each location.

    The fact that the Government consistently requires submission of plans, etc., does not mean that doing so is consistent with customary commercial practice. What you want to find out during market research are the customary practices under which commercial sales of services are made. Do sellers customarily have to provide "QCP/Contract manager's resume/complete package submitted/technical approach to performance" to potential buyers in order to make a sale? Or is this just something that Government buyers ask for?

    As a Government buyer, you have baggage. When you are buying a commercial item, you need to minimize your baggage as much as possible.

  12. 1 hour ago, ContractingCowboi said:

    And if you fail to do so, negative CPARS rating it is. At least it's a plan as opposed to the other offeror.

    Really? What if I don't follow my "staffing plan", but I perform the contract successfully (everything delivered on time, nothing lost, etc.)? How would you justify a negative CPARS?