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jonmjohnson

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About jonmjohnson

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    jon.johnson@vt.edu
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  1. NITAAC vs GSA

    Depends on whether FAR 8 or FAR 16 makes is easier to execute for you. FAR 8 is typically easier and gives wide berth to the CO so long as you understand what is and is not required. Pricing is likely to be comparable. Agencies pay a fee to use NITAAC but they don't under Schedules. That comes from industry. Same structure under SEWP.
  2. "Breakdown Activities" for the Contracting Workforce

    Reading comprehension and writing logical positions?
  3. Reading Recommendations for Contracting Professionals

    Vern...thank you for posting this. I just had my mid-year review, and the feedback that I received from my supervisor has been the same every review period for the past 2 years: learn better habits with executive communication. The way my supervisor sees things makes sense. My executive gets maybe 2 hours per day to read and respond to emails. She may spend no more than 40 seconds per email, therefore make it short. I write and think in complete sentences and struggle with bullets because I find details and context necessary to communicate for decision making. Not only the what's but also the why's. Further, internal communication is a funny thing in a bureaucracy and often a message from below ends up being either miscommunicated or changed when moving up the chain due to other's ignorance or self-interests. Communication ends up being what the person wants to communicate about a situation rather than an accurate reflection of the situation. We use the BLUF technique, but I struggle with this constantly.
  4. Request for Assistance

    So I was told of a language processing tool run by IBM's Watson and inputted Don's sentence to see if an engine doing text analysis through natural language processing could identify the subject of the sentence. Nope....here is the engine: https://alchemy-language-demo.mybluemix.net/ Engines like this only as good as the programmers who builds them. Attorneys should not worry about their jobs...just yet.
  5. Procurement Swamp Article

    DOD procurement is no different than CIV sector. Just more, bigger, larger, higher dollar, but problems are absolutely similar. Inefficient is inefficient, and nobody claimed that CIV sector was better. Poor efficiency on one hand and worse efficiency on the other doesn't make the situation better.
  6. Layers Upon Layers

    Todd....thanks for sharing this. I am an admirer of Paul Light and didn't see this until you pointed it out.
  7. Organizational Games

    I was having a discussion with some contracting folks on the problem of getting information from either contractors or program offices. This one person described a discussion that had me in stitches. Their description of the exchange reminded me of the following clip. How many of these kinds of conversations have happened in your organizations? Anyone younger than 40-45 may not know this routine, but it is one of the true classics of comedy. For your viewing pleasure.
  8. Procurement Swamp Article

    I have no idea if this is a confirmation bias that I am witnessing or what, but every day I see evidence that C. Northcote Parkinson was correct. The function if a bureaucracy is to increase the number of subordinates and decreasing the number of rivals while making work for one another. A bureaucrat's currency is budget and people, and they have incentive to grow both. Here is a fairly good Economist article on Parkinson's Law. Applying Parkinson's Law to DOD (or any other large, federated, cabinet level agency for that matter), one may say that the acquisition infrastructure is put in place to increase the number of acquisition subordinates while decreasing the rivals who would intrude on buying decisions. Parkinson also made the observation that (and I am paraphrasing but looking for a clean article on it) while the British empire was shrinking, more resources were placed in the areas of decline and never once did that change the course of that decline.
  9. Procurement Swamp Article

    Not sure if anyone read this, but Fortune Magazine had a fascinating article on DOD procurement this past weekend. Not every day when acquisitions gets a center stage write-up like this (and DOD does not look good as a result). Nobody looks good in this one (DOD Acquisition DefSec, Army CO's, DAU, GAO) but the underlying problem(s) are beyond DOD because the perverse incentive structures exist everywhere. Impressions? "Donald Trump, Palantir, and the crazy battle to clean up a multibillion-dollar Military procurement swamp"
  10. Request for Assistance

    Subject = Time Next person up...identify the predicate. That is a good one Don. I clearly owe you a drink.
  11. Request for Assistance

    Vern...you are correct. Subject-verb-direct object. Apso...spot on with what I am seeking. Can you think of any piece of regulation (preferably within FAR) where the subject, verb, direct object relationship is less clear or buried within a complicated sentence structure? I will be concentrating on this this weekend and will share some that I dig up as well. Thank you both Gentlemen.
  12. Request for Assistance

    Thank you apso. I will look those over. Let me clarify...I am looking for a sentence where identifying the noun. verb, direct object is not simple to identify.
  13. Request for Assistance

    Colleagues....I was wondering if I may be able to get some assistance with a study that I am looking to conduct. Here is the synopsis... Path Dependency exists in the contracting field. It is human nature to look at buying through the lens of how you conducted buy's before. It is also organizational nature to structure buys and activities as they have approved before. My question is why does the behavior of path dependency exist in federal contracting. Here is where I need some potential assistance. I am looking for run-on sentences taken from FAR that appear as they are actually paragraphs. LONG sentences that are constructed fairly complicatedly. My hypothesis is that procurement people, and those that provide the oversight for them (so some CO/KOs, legal counsel, and IGs) cannot identify the major parts of speech in these kinds of regulations, therefore they do not understand FAR, therefore they go the route that had been done before whether it is applicable to the buy they are facing or not. This is not my idea. I had actually taken this from Vern when in one of his classes as a baseline activity. It struck me then and now that this could be used as a way to do further study for academic purposes. If COs prove capable of being able to do so then it would indicate ability and capacity, meaning there is something else going on in the environment and we can eliminate that as a cause of path dependency in contracting. The problem may lie with legal or other oversight bodies. I would not mind giving the same test to managers, directors, and others involved in the procurement execution and oversight process. If, on the other hand, it is true that there are not many people capable of identifying the basic parts of speech in such regulations the implication could be mutli-fold. It could mean that the skills that are needed are not being met by folks hiring or for the policy that squeezed out liberal arts majors with degrees in history, English, and philosophy (3 subjects that are language intensive rather than business intensive). It could mean that the policy field has made overly-complicated what could be expressed in plain language. Skills gaps could exist anywhere in the chain of a procurement who have need and access to regulations that shape activities (CS, CO, Directors, reviewers, Legal, IG), and finding out where those gaps exist could also be interesting to explore. Anyone willing to help can feel free to either post onto this website their recommended sentences taken from FAR (if allowed by the moderator), message me via this platform, or you can email me directly (jon.johnson@vt.edu). Further...your thoughts on this matter are also welcomed and I thank you in advance. If you are in the DC area, your reward will be a cold pint, warm cup of Joe, or any other drink I can buy you. If outside of DC....I will owe you one.
  14. SIg Sauer

    Contracts aside....does anyone have experience with the two firearm manufacturers? Any enthusiasts who have a preference of a Beretta over a Sig or vise versa?
  15. Christmas Gifts for a CO

    I was reading over Vern's and Joel's responses on the Old Post Office conversation and decided to finally get myself the Christmas gift I have wanted for years...the 2 Volume set of the Compact Edition of the Oxford-English Dictionary. As CO's frame their work on the meaning of words, I could think of no better gift to get (although I have wanted one of these for 20 years and just decided to get it. My excuse will be that this will be the dictionary that I will make my children use). So what gifts would you recommend, or what would a CO ask Santa, for Christmas for a Contract Officer? I can think of nothing better than a good dictionary and a few good books. I have not been sold on a kindle because I enjoy the touch, feel, smell of a book still, but I could be sold on one. So second question....Kindle or no?
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