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Don Mansfield

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Blog Comments posted by Don Mansfield

  1. 56 minutes ago, ji20874 said:


    The problem is that shaman might be the one selected to write the module that will grade everyone else's competence in fair opportunity considerations.  Or, to reference an earlier example, the dimwit who thinks the determination to include options has to be in a FAR Subpart 1.7 D&F format might (likely will) be selected for that module.  I fully support the idea, but I would likely be deeply troubled by the implementation details.

    I think that the exams should be centrally developed, administered, and controlled to mitigate cultural bias. I would keep it at the DAU level for DoD and FAI level for civilian agencies.

  2. 15 hours ago, uva383 said:


    I like the idea of it, but how would you deal with that in today's workforce. I can only speak to my experience within DOD, but I doubt that it is different in the civilian world, given that some of my peers came from that world, I just have never worked in it so I can't speak to it directly. That being said... I find that each service, and often each MAJCOM within the service views things differently and therefore you can ask folks in each different group the same question and get different responses. A good example of this is what satisfies the requirement of the "determination" required by FAR 17.207(d). I've been at several agencies, and talked to and witnessed multiple KOs state that this determination means a D&F, as required by FAR 1.704, when pressed on the issue, as I learned early on in my career after reading one of Vern's posts on that very subject, the ultimate answer for why do you think that a formal D&F is required is... because that's how we do it here or that's what our policy office says. 

    IMO no amount of training, or no style of training will be able to overcome the agency thats how we do it... especially if the application at the local level is incorrect because someone that goes to training and learns all these great things comes back is either discouraged because they hear "I don't care how DAU taught you... this is how we do it" or they start first at their agency, and then go to training, and can tell that there are differences in what is being taught, and get cross threaded because they cannot distinguish between these differences. 

    I've always been curious... there seems to be quite a focus on the lack of training of today's workforce what's changed from how you learned contracting, and what would it take to go back to that model? 

    Every professional has to deal with the tribal customs of the organization they work for. I am familiar with the type of problem you described and have experienced it myself. Recently I visited a tribe, let's call them the IDIQ tribe, where the shaman couldn't understand that a contract specifying a definite quantity didn't have a "ceiling". All she could see was evil spirits when I tried to explain. This is a different problem that may or may not be solved by what I'm proposing. 

    I don't think training used to be good and now it is bad. The major difference between then and now is delivery--some training is now Web-based. I don't see a significant difference in quality.

  3. 17 hours ago, here_2_help said:

    Given the (revised) definition, it seems that any learning that is "one size fits all" is not meeting the second part of the definition -- i.e., the learning needs to address the conditions under which the student will perform the task. Thus, it seems we need to tailor the training.

    If you're saying that it's necessary to tailor the conditions to the learner, I don't agree. In a learning objective, a condition is simply a description of the resources or tools the learner will need to complete the measurable or observable behavior. A condition is usually established with the word "Given" followed by such phrases as

    • a set of questions
    • a scenario
    • a series of problems
    • a visual representation of an object
    • a list of conditions
    • a choice between,,,
    • materials, or
    • a calculator.

    Some instructional designers think of it in terms of the conditions of testing (or assessment), because they are trying to communicate the conditions under which the student will be asked to demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and/or skills learned. In my experience, the most important condition for students is whether the exam is open or closed book.

    17 hours ago, here_2_help said:

    I was also struck by your use of actuaries rather than accountants in your example. Once an accountant passes the CPA and other related tests they are good to go -- but need to document a certain amount of continuing professional education each year. (If memory serves it's 120 hours over 3 years with no more than 80 counting in any one year.) Again, though, we are talking about a rigorous examination that a certain amount of takers are expected to fail. But once over the hurdle, you are in the profession.

    I'm more familiar with the actuary field. From what you described, it seems like the accounting field already uses the performance-based model--successful completion of required exams instead of attendance at required courses. Seems to work ok.

  4. 4 hours ago, Desparado said:

    So if I understand the proposed solution correctly, if an 1102 were to move from an office that did installation support (like a military installation) using primarily Simplified Acquisition to an office with another agency (or perhaps the same one) and started working A/E actions, they would need to complete an additional Level II course.

    Under the current model, the new office may require the employee take an A/E course that would include an exam at the end (like CON 243). Under the proposed model, the new office would require that the employee pass an exam similar to the one given in CON 243 instead. No required attendance in a classroom.

    4 hours ago, Desparado said:

    How would this work in smaller offices where the 1102 has to do several types of contracting?  When I started out at a military installation I did Simplified Acquisition, Construction, Services and IT Acquisition all on any given day.  Under this scenario would I have had to be Level II qualified in all these areas?  I think having specialized certifications would create problems for the agencies and the workforce.

    "Installation contracting" could be a specialty all its own--like a multidisciplinary major.

    4 hours ago, Desparado said:

    Although the current system is far from perfect, if it is going to be changed it will need to be flexible enough to facilitate all types of offices. With all its faults (and I admit there are many), the current system does provide some basic foundational contracting principles that can expand to most (if not all) types of contracting. The costs to administer a specialized program is something else that would have to be considered. With the trend of movement of 1102s that I've seen over the last few years, people would be constantly taking training/tests for new certifications. 

    Intriguing idea, but I don't know how it would work from a practical standpoint.

    I do not see any additional costs for what I am proposing. I do see savings each time a student opts not to attend a class and prepares for the examination on their own, though.

  5. 1 hour ago, Confused1102 said:

    3. To make the tool more useful, do you plan to incorporate clauses? Or a clause matrix? While the matrix isn't full proof, it is a tool to help start looking at clauses for RFP's, exporting it to excel makes it even more useful.  I think a consolidated clause matrix across the regulations would be a powerful tool, although possibly a separate project from your current endeavor.

    I'm working on a consolidated clause matrix, too.

  6. ...and if tradecraft means the skills and experience and savvy to actually deliver value and results in our contracts, then maybe we need a new word.

    I assume that you meant "if tradecraft doesn't mean the skills and experience and savvy to actually deliver value and results in our contracts, then maybe we need a new word." Fair enough, to the extent that we use a word that actually means what we are trying to communicate and is reasonably understandable.


    If your (implied) point was: if the BBP drafters were lax in word choice, perhaps they were also similarly lax in strategy and tactics and implementation of same then I agree whole-heartedly.

    Your words, not mine.

    I don't see what is so egregious about a word that changed/evolved its meaning over time. There are plenty of such words in our vocabulary. The language is a living thing.

    For example: egregious now describes something outstandingly bad or shocking, but it originally meant remarkably good. It comes from the Latin egregius, meaning "illustrious, select"—literally, "standing out from the flock," from ex-, "out of," and greg-, "flock." Apparently the current meaning arose from ironic use of the original.


    I don't think you got the point of the article, but I appreciate the lesson on the word "egregious".

  7. Jacques,

    1) The SBA regulations require set-asides overseas. The FAR does not. They are inconsistent. Even if you believe that a PCO would be permitted to set aside an individual acquisition overseas under the FAR, the procedure is not mandatory under the FAR for all acquisitions meeting the conditions for a set-aside.

    2) The FR quote reflects the FAR Council's position on what COs must do when there is a conflict between the SBA regulations and the FAR. They say you must follow the FAR. It does not say that following the FAR will result in winning a protest.

    3) The actual changes to the FAR text could be little. However, I don't see how that's relevant. The impact would be undeniably significant. A change in policy requiring the use of existing FAR part 19 provisions and clauses relating to set-asides for overseas acquisitions would be required to go through rulemaking. I hope you don't think that this type of change could be made by technical amendment.

    4) As I said earlier, set-asides are not mandatory worldwide under the FAR. Although the the SBA's rule did go through the rulemaking process, it didn't contain any provisions and clauses for COs to use to implement the policy. Do you think contracting office can just create their own without regard for 41 U.S.C. 1707 and the Paperwork Reduction Act?

    5) No, I'm not suggesting anything to or advocating for any particular solution for the COs and their bosses faced with this issue today. I'm just bringing the issue to light. Overseas contracting offices know better than me how to solve their problems.

  8. Jacques,

    There would still be an inconsistency between the FAR and the SBA regulations. The SBA regs mandate set-asides worldwide when the requisite conditions are met and the FAR does not. According to the FAR Council:

    Contracting officers under the Executive Branch are required to follow the FAR. In cases where there are inconsistencies between Title 13 (SBA regulations) and Title 48 (FAR) of the Code of Federal Regulations, contracting officers follow the FAR.

    [see 74 FR 11823].

    There's also procedural hurdles to be worked out if overseas contracting offices follow a policy of mandatory set-asides. For example, what provisions will be used to require offerors and quoters to represent themselves as small business concerns? What clauses will be used to implement the limitation on subcontracting? Will there be a limitation on subcontracting? When the policies and procedures of FAR part 19 went through the rulemaking process, their application was limited by FAR 19.000( b ). There was no public notice that they would apply worldwide (except for FAR subpart 19.6) or opportunity for public comment.

  9. Jacques,

    I mean that COs are not required by the FAR to set aside acquisitions for small businesses overseas. If an overseas contracting office adopted such a policy, it would be a deviation as defined by FAR 1.401(f). A policy need not conflict with the FAR to be a deviation as defined by FAR 1.401(f).

    I think that if there were a protest against an overseas CO for not setting aside an acquisition when required by 13 CFR 125.2(f), the Government would lose. I don't think reliance on FAR 19.000( b ) would work as a defense anymore, given the change in the SBA regulations. This is probably why the State Department and the Army aren't fighting these protests.

  10. My point is you haven't explained very well (IMHO) the basis underlying your statement, "Overseas COs must deviate from the FAR to comply with the

    Small Business Act and SBA regulations." If I have to have an affirmative point of my own, it is expressed in my prior post, which is, "A PCO can simultaneously comply with the new SBA regulation and FAR 19.000( b ), because FAR 19.000( b ) does not require a PCO do anything or refrain from doing anything."

    It is not my desire to divorce this conversation from its context, which includes SBA's change to its regulation discussed in your blog post (13 CFR 125.2). You seem to believe a PCO is faced with two irreconcilably conflicting authorities--that is, two authorities with which the PCO cannot simultaneously comply (or cannot simultaneously comply without, in your words, a deviation). I do not; or at least you haven't convinced me yet why I'm wrong (understanding you're not obligated to do so).


    Assuming, arguendo, that overseas COs could set aside acquisitions for small business concerns without deviating from the FAR, they are not required to. If an overseas contracting office were to issue a policy mandating set-asides pursuant to 13 CFR 125.2(f), that would be a deviation as defined at FAR 1.401(f).

  11. Jacques,

    Before this discussion gets too unwieldy, let me try to summarize your argument. According to you, FAR 19.000( b ) should be read something like this--

    This part, except for Subpart 19.6, applies only in the United States or its outlying areas. Subpart 19.6 applies worldwide. However, it does not preclude application of the policies and procedures of other subparts worldwide.

    Is that what you're saying?

  12. Jacques,

    FAR 17.200 states:

    This subpart prescribes policies and procedures for the use of option solicitation provisions and contract clauses. Except as provided in agency regulations, this subpart does not apply to contracts for

    (a) services involving the construction, alteration, or repair (including dredging, excavating, and painting) of buildings, bridges, roads, or other kinds of real property;

    ( b ) architect-engineer services; and

    ( c ) research and development services. However, it does not preclude the use of options in those contracts.

    You may want to use a different example.

    I don't know what you mean by "deviation package", so I don't know how to describe what one would look like.

    Using the policies and procedures of FAR subpart 19.5 outside the United States and its outlying areas would be a deviation (as defined at FAR 1.401(a)) from FAR 19.000( b ), which limits application of FAR part 19 to the United States and its outlying areas. You seem to suggest that the FAR already permits a CO to limit competition to small business concerns regardless of place of performance. However, such an interpretation renders FAR 19.000( b ) meaningless.

    If an overseas CO were to limit competition to small business concerns for a contract requiring performance overseas, they would need quoters or offerors to represent themselves in connection with their quote or offer. Use of the provision at FAR 52.219-1, Small Business Program Representations, in a solicitation when the contract will be performed outside the United States and its outlying areas would be a deviation (as defined at FAR 1.401(e)) from the prescription at FAR 19.309( a )(1). Same goes for use of FAR 52.219-2, Equal Low Bids, and FAR 52.219-28, Post-Award Small Business Program Rerepresentation.

  13. Jacques,

    Per FAR 19.000( b ), the policies and procedures of FAR part 19 do not apply outside the United States and its outlying areas. Thus, if a contracting officer outside the U.S. and its outlying areas were following the policies and procedures of FAR subpart 19.5 (i.e., limiting competition to small business concerns), their actions would be inconsistent with the FAR. This would meet the definition of "deviation" at FAR 1.401( a ).

    You suggest that a CO can solely rely on FAR 6.203 to limit competition to small business concerns for overseas COs. Yes, FAR 6.203( c ) directs compliance with FAR subpart 19.5, but you can't ignore FAR 19.000( b ). Even if I bought your argument, which I don't, it would not permit set-asides when using SAP per FAR 6.001( a ).

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