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here_2_help

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  1. Yep. I too get very upset when the trash truck doesn't arrive on Thursday morning. So do my neighbors. That usually happens when there's a Federal holiday earlier in the week so the trucks get behind a day. They pick up Friday morning instead of Thursday morning.

    I was considering sending the trash company a cure notice, but then I decided that a poor CPARS rating was sufficient.


  2. All this is absolutely correct. When I choose a consultant for a relatively undefined project, I am looking for knowledge, experience, and approach. Cost is a vanishingly small concern. So long as the cost is within the range of "reasonable" it's good. The government almost never takes a similar approach--and it should, in many cases.

    We have gotten away from the notion, which was in vogue 20 years ago, that the government and contractor were "partners" in their contracts. (Remember "Alpha Contracting"?) Until we walk away from the adversarial positions, enforced by policy guidance from current "leadership," we are not going to see fundamental changes in acquisition strategy, and we are going to see suboptimal outcomes.


  3. Love this. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I've always been on the contractors' side of things and I appreciate getting another viewpoint. From the contractors' side, we work diligently to avoid litigation, which is costly and takes a very long time to resolve issues. On the other hand, I sometimes think the COs welcome litigation because it takes the burden of making a difficult decision off their shoulders. It's very interesting to me that Rule was willing to make the tough decisions; his obvious courage is admirable.


  4. I think Dee Lee's recent foray into private industry may help her make some inroads. As for the other panelists, I see quite a few defenders of the status quo.

    I don't know if I agree with you, Vern, that it's about age. I think leadership can spring from any source. Unfortunately, in the panel I see too many "leaders" who are called leaders based on official position, not on insight or on deeds accomplished. Thus, I suspect very little will come of this except to reiterate the need for the status quo.


  5. I'm not sure I agree with your definition of "learning objective." From another source I read that a learning objective consists of

    1. A description of what the student will be able to do

    2. The conditions under which the student will perform the task.

    3. The criteria for evaluating student performance.

    That definition seems more practical and less theoretical than your definition.

    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.

    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.


  6. Love that ST:TOS reference! Harlan Ellison has long been one of my favorite American writers. I should also mention that General Semantics was a hobby of mine for a while (thanks to A.E. Van Vogt) -- so it's great to see it again.

    Naturally, I am interested in the question you are probing. It's hard to divine the question if poorly framed. I assert it's not my job to reframe the question but we do try to elicit more information so that it can be answered.

    And as you and I have discussed (over really good Oregon wine), sometimes it is clear that the interlocutor is simply not prepared to appreciate/understand/use the correct answer. Do we ignore the question and brush-off the interlocutor, or do we try to answer the question in a manner that might (perhaps) be useful? That's my question and I'm struggling with it.

    Thanks (again) for a thoughtful blog post.


  7. I like this post and have shared it with my staff. But I don't work in government; I work at a contractor. My department is focused on continuous process improvement and innovating business practices; it's what we are paid to do. Somebody identifies a problem or a process glitch or a noncompliant situation, and my team goes into action. But many of our process problems are cross-functional and so we develop teams (or IPTs, if you will) to go tackle long-standing, tough, issues. Sometimes we lead and sometimes we are just team members. In almost every single case, the improvement initiative succeeds or fails based on how we execute change management and communication.

    In one recent example, we are nearing consensus on a problem that has plagued us for (literally) more than 6 years. We have held meeting after meeting, trying to develop a solution that all stakeholders would accept and actually implement. Everybody agreed that improvement was necessary; but there was passionate disagreement regarding the solution. Finally we all aligned on a fix that was far from perfect, but it was the most feasible solution given the constraints. And then management shot it down because they didn't understand how much effort had gone into developing the compromise solution, and it was (obviously) not the perfect solution. We've spent the past 5 months recovering and trying to build consensus with the members of the management team who want the "perfect" solution. Why did we stumble with management? We didn't communicate and we didn't present our proposed fix in a manner that clearly showed why our solution was the way to go right now.


  8. Jamaal,

    Yes, I suppose that is a factor.

    The bigger factor is simply that there are only so many resources available, and when you dedicate some of them to continually doing proposals (for the same or very similar work), then that's all they do. They don't actually, you know, DO the work. They generate indirect B&P labor dollars instead of direct contract labor dollars.


  9. I don't know if the increased emphasis on award of multiple award ID/IQ contracts in the 90's was the worst thing to ever happen to government contracting. But I do know that contractors' B&P costs skyrocketed afterwards, since they have to keep competing for the work over and over -- and very very few ID/IQ contracts provide funding for post-award task/delivery order proposal preparation.


  10. Vern,

    Thanks for the link to the article! It's a brilliant suggestion that would address many of the challenges you and Ralph discussed. If implemented, it would actually facilitiate agile contracting and innovation, since the contract is structured to permit changes to requirements and service approach.

    It's too bad it was published in that journal. At best, you were preaching to the choir. More likely, you were suggesting outside-of-the-box thinking to many who were firmly ensconsed within the box and were going to actively resist change.

    After 30 years, I'm convinced that change, if it comes, will come from the outside and be imposed on those within the box.

    H2H


  11. Bob,

    All good and valid points. But it seems to me that the story is not about lying, it's about a profession that publicly declares its adherence to values such as honor and integrity. It's about a group of leaders trained not to lie, cheat or steal, or to tolerate those who do. It's about apparent hypocrisy.

    H2H


  12. "It seems to be doing little more than putting the ACC on notice that someone might ask it how it knows that the contractors are complying and not lying and that it ought to have an explanation."

    Vern, yours is the voice of experience. And yet I cannot help but wonder how this situation might play out ...

    1. Hotline call to DoD OIG, alleging that Contractor A is violating BAA with respect to compliance with this DFARS clause. (Hotline call originates with disappointed bidder who thought it should have won the contract award.)

    2. OIG investigation, assisted by DCAA and appropriate law enforcement officials, substantiates the allegation.

    3. Contractor A argues that the cognizant CO and COR were obviously derelict in their duties and thus complicit in its noncompliance. Contractor A cites this OIG report for supporting its assertion that the government had an affirmative duty to assure contractor compliance. Contractor A argues that it relied on the CO and COR's duty to provide assurance to its detriment. It's a weak argument but the US Assistant Attorney doesn't want to have a jury hear it (because juries and complex government contracting issues), so the government settles quickly and for small dollars.

    4. Cognizant CO and COR receive discipline for failing to assure Contractor A's compliance with clause requirements. Their argument that their Command didn't give them the appropriate training, tools or processes falls on deaf ears. Their supervisors point out that there was a training course and they could have (and should have) attended it. Had they attended the class, they would have known how to assure their contractors were complying with the clause requirements.

    Is that how this plays out, given the IG's assertion(s)?

    Just wondering ....

    H2H


  13. Don, I'm going to take your analysis at face value, without confirming your cites (the way I should). Assuming you are correct, then I don't know which is worse -- that the DoDOIG cannot interpret the regs properly, or that the ACC leadership didn't call the auditors out on their fundamental error.

    How embarrassing for the professions involved.

    H2H

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