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Blog Comments posted by here_2_help

  1. Seems to me the question is whether a CO would or could use Part 12 procedures, without using any Part 15 procedures, if market research determined that at least one potential offeror was a non-traditional defense contractor ("NTDC"). If the CO thought some offerors were NTDCs but some were not, could the CO use Part 15 procedures for the others but use Part 12 procedures for the NTDCs? For some reason, I think that would be problematic. So I think that leaves our CO with the same option -- use Part 12 or Part 15 procedures, but pick one and stick with it. If the CO uses Part 15, then the NTDC would seem to be stuck with that choice.

    But perhaps I'm over analyzing this. What do others think?

  2. On 3/31/2018 at 9:14 AM, C Culham said:

    I had the same thoughts of h2h about who would adopt the "may" option and then I began thinking about the CO that does want take advantage of the "may" and played it out in my mind.  Not sure I have it right but....

    First scenario -

    1. The DoD does market research.

    2. It determines that there adequate small businesses to set aside the procurement.

    3. Most small businesses are non-traditional defense contractors so the DoD decides to use Commercial Item acquisition procedures without having to do a commercial item determination.

    4. Offers responding do not have to provide Certified Cost or Pricing Data.

    Or another-  

    1. The DoD does market research.

    2. DoD determines not to set aside and it is a procurement that does not use Commercial Item acquisition procedures.

    3. A small business responds and states it is a non-traditional defense contractor and states that it is not providing certified cost or pricing data.

    4. The CO treats the supplies/services of the non-traditional defense contractor as if they are commercial items and agrees that cost or pricing data is not required. 


    With respect to Scenario 1, Item 3, I would correct your statement to read "ALL small businesses are non-traditional defense contractors..." by statute, small businesses are exempt from CAS coverage, so that makes them non-traditional defense contractors, according to the DFARS definition.

    With respect to Scenario 2, if there is competition, the CO is prohibited from requiring certified cost or pricing data, but may request information other than certified cost or pricing data. Correct? In this scenario, I see the small business providing sufficient information to support price reasonableness, but not more. That same DFARS rule that implemented the permissive guidance that sparked Don's blog post also provided a hierarchy of information other than certified cost or pricing data for COs to use. I hope they follow it...

  3. Don,

    Yes, what you write is in line with my interpretation of the rule. It has potential benefits to small business IF contracting officers take advantage of the flexibility it offers. 

    A small business is a non-traditional defense contractor, under the new DFARS rule. So is a segment of a traditional defense contractor, if it qualifies. Contracting officers may use Part 12 procedures to acquire goods and services from non-traditional defense contractors without making a determination that the goods/services being procured are commercial items, regardless of dollar value.

    So far, so good.

    But how many COs will actually take advantage of this new rule? Even before the rule, how many COs were comfortable making pure Part 12 acquisitions without going over to Part 15 to borrow some process steps? To my way of thinking, that's the concern. That concern is exacerbated when I see the discretion baked into the language: "may" gives a lot of discretion.

    Show me guidance memos and instructions directing implementation of the new "permissive" rule and I might dance a jig. Until then, I remain a bit skeptical.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. On ‎1‎/‎6‎/‎2017 at 10:24 AM, Retreadfed said:

    Under NAVY Directives, the modification needed to be approved by the General Counsel before it could be executed. It never received such approval.

    Interesting. Are you saying that a SECDEF appointment as principal negotiator, with Legal supporting, was superseded by Navy Directives? I find that difficult to accept.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.


  15. 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.