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Don Mansfield

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Posts posted by Don Mansfield

  1. On 8/2/2018 at 9:19 AM, ji20874 said:

    Everything in FAR Subpart 17.2 is written for options that purchase supplies or servicesNothing in FAR Subpart 17.2 is written for options extending the ordering period of task and delivery order contracts.  

    On 8/2/2018 at 6:26 PM, ji20874 said:

    But wherever they put it, the FAR text's meaning is unchanged by an agency's supplementation.

    What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  2. 2 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

    Don, what  are some government created  incentives that you referred to which are in conflict with these policies?

    An example would be using "Proposed Participation of Small Business" as an evaluation factor in source selection. There's an incentive for offerors to propose high participation to win the competition. However, during performance the contractor is only required to make a good faith effort to comply with its plan. When I researched this, I could not find a single case where the Government actually assessed liquidated damages for the contractor's failure to make a good faith effort to comply with its plan. That tells me that it is very hard to prove. I was told of an instance of NAVFAC doing this, but I think it's very rare. The changes that you reference will create more paperwork for contractors, but I don't think it will be enough to change behavior.

    The carrot for proposing high participation is significant, but the stick for failing to follow through is not.

  3. 4 hours ago, 76fj40 said:

    Don - You are correct.  We assist in the proposal, lend our experience, skills, and past performance to the winning effort and then get little or nothing after award, even with a specific workshare in the TA.  The primes offer a range of excuses or just blow us off.

    This is not uncommon. I think this happens because the Government creates incentives for contractors to behave this way. 

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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. 

  7. 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?

  8. 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...

  9. 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. 

  10. 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. 

  11. 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. 


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