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  1. Joel...that is interesting. I taught a logic course to a group of 8th grade students back in the late 90's/early 00's. It didn't go nearly as well. It could have been the age of the kids, but more likely my own ineptitude. It was focused on informal logic (or syllogisms as Vern describes it...which is more accurate) and the different fallacies that we see on a daily basis. I have no idea if the kids were able to get anything out of it. I did though....a decision towards grad school and a different line of work
  2. https://projectauditors.com/Papers/SAM_Registration_scam_when_scammers_call.php
  3. Late coming on this discussion but it was an intriguing post. I have taken such exams in similar scenarios (what you describe is like qualifying exams and orals for a doctorate program). My immediate thought was what would I write on this subject and how would I approach it? If the topic was Fundamental Concepts and Principles of Contracting for Long-Term Professional Support Services what would I draw upon to answer this question, and could I defend the approach taken (or after thought, decide the approach wasn't correct and why)? In 6 hours I would spend the first 20-30 minutes thinking about the question and laying out a framework. I would think that I would cover basic contracting principles, bridge in private sector supply chain practices as applicable (strategic sourcing), define what is meant by professional support services in the context of the industry that I would be applying in, and note some additional concepts involving negotiation techniques to accomplish a goal with some notations on behavioral economics as a justification for taking unconventional negotiation practices beyond the rote "getting to yes" style of negotiations. I would then spend 4.5 hours writing in 30 minute increments taking a 10 minute break in between to think though the next few paragraphs. I would go to lunch, come back and ensure that I keep writing in single space 12 point font until I completed about 5 pages. I would target this being completed with 1 hour remaining. Then I would take a walk for 15 minutes to clear my head, come back in, and edit and clean for the next 45 minutes. In the end, I would then bump it up to double space, and submit. One additional step, would be to have the three participants come in on a different day and then ask them about what they had written. If it was me I would have left, then thought about the flaws, and then try to account for what I had missed or not been clear on. In the interview I would get into a logical back and forth on my positions, acknowledge where they were weak or unclear, and then supplement the information that had been lacking in my response. Believe it or not...this process could be kind of fun (for people who have a slight screw loose like myself). In terms of the compensation, I would need to know the location of the position. If this was a major contractor based in TX or FLA, that would be a VERY compelling offer (no state tax, lower cost of living). If it was in NYC, DC, or Boston....maybe (though I may look to work out of their NH, TX, FL offices as a negotiation factor ;). Nice thought experiment Vern. That was fun.
  4. Blockchain in government is a bunch of hooey at this point in time. It is half a bitcoin and nothing more. People are enamored with doing something new hoping that it will solve problems without necessarily understanding exactly what the problem is or the limitations for the proposed solution. It is fun to toss around "if" concepts of how it can be applied, but by definition it requires certain aspects to work: consistent, immutable, ownable, replicable, available, canonical, and decentralized. I ask you....does the FAR itself have any of these characteristics? Here is a good article on the difficulties associated with BlockChain. The technical is fairly straight forward, and the embedded cartoons are priceless. https://medium.com/@jimmysong/why-blockchain-is-hard-60416ea4c5c
  5. Colleagues - For some reason I am having a hard time finding if either FAR 52.242-17 or 52.243-1 are incorporated into the GSA Schedules Contracts. I looked through the IT70 solicitation (Solicitation and Regulations Incorporated by Reference) as well as the Professional Services 00CORP agreements and don't seem to see them in either. I have seen them there in the past but don't appear to see them now. 1) Are the still there and I am just daft? 2). Have they been removed? (I realize they could be removed and I could still be daft) If the latter does anyone have an indication as to why?
  6. This conversation relates to this article as well: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2018/3/6/new-undersecretary-vows-to-shake-up-pentagons-acquisition-system I can't say I am terribly optimistic about these prospects (trying to be less cynical but it gets more difficult by the day), but maybe the structural change (having nobody to overrule his interaction with Mattis and Shannahan based on an org chart) will help with these prospects. The problem that he will run into is the path dependent nature of federal contracting personnel. The cadres of COs (as well as management and oversight) have been conditioned differently than what the new Undersecretary now expects. People have been contracting scared, or engaging in (structurally) cumbersome contracting for many years. It is going to be very difficult to get to a point where the operations can function without the oversight.
  7. Strategic Sourcing is not a vehicle. It is a behavior. It is what you do and how you do it...not the vehicle in and of itself. From the private sector point of view, strategic sourcing is an activity geared towards driving down costs (not prices per say.....but costs) to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace (Lacity, M. C., & Willcocks, L. P. (1998). Strategic sourcing of information systems: perspectives and practices. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..). The best definition I can find identifies strategic sourcing as initiatives that include: Supply Based Rationalization (which means reducing the total number of suppliers to which a firm does business); Commodity Management (which matches corporate needs of parts and materials with the changing capabilities of the supply base); Spend Consolidation (which involves an increased dollar spent on purchases from an individual supplier); Global Sourcing (which involves exploiting global markets for improved capabilities, such as low-cost labor for the manufacturing of labor-intensive parts); Establishing Sole-Source Agreements (the act of purchasing a product or family of products from one supplier); Long-Term Agreements (establishing a relationship with a supplier where there is an understanding that buyer-supplier relationship will extend over several years or indefinitely); and Just In Time (JIT) Purchasing (which is aimed at minimization of supply lead time). (Rossetti, C., & Choi, T. Y. (2005). On the dark side of strategic sourcing: experiences from the aerospace industry. The Academy of Management Executive, 19(1), 46-60.) All of these activities working in concert, achieve the results by which companies are able to reduce costs, reduce the amount of in-house labor needed to conduct business, and thereby increase profits of the firm. This is the private sector model....in the public sector rather than increasing profits it is meant to creating efficiencies of budget and execution. That being said, in government we have bastardized the term a bit. Today strategic sourcing is defined by the government as “a fact-based analytical process used to reduce direct spend and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), while improving mission delivery” and was established to “improve the federal government acquisition value chain, increase socio-economic participation and ultimately lower total cost of operations and/or ownership for strategic sourcing vehicles.” (reference for this definition is no longer available, but it was retrieved from https://strategicsourcing.gov/ on 3/08/15). As you can see from the definitions, there is a significant different between private sector strategic sourcing, and public sector strategic sourcing. One is specific while the other is intent-laden. For example, when assessing total cost of ownership agencies need to look into operational costs, which include their internal transaction costs (how much does it cost us to buy) and administrative costs (how much does it cost us to manage). We don't do this. Further, strategic sourcing hinges on the ability to consolidate spend, which is a function of a consolidated budget. Few budgets are consolidated, in large federates agencies like DHS, DOD, or any other multi-bureau cabinet level agency, therefore strategically sourcing your assets will not take place. BPAs are not strategic sourcing vehicles, especially if they are multi-award BPAs. They are promissory notes that prices will not rise, but there is no economies of scale when doing 100 buys of 100 rather than 1 buy of 10000. Budgets aside, each group suffers from "special snowflake syndrome". Even internal within a large federated agency CO's and Program personnel will do what they can to maintain their "purview" of their units buying and behavior, which means any difference with a requirement will negate an agency's ability to strategic source their goods. You cannot strategically source without standardizing what is bought. The government has taken a vehicular approach to strategic sourcing rather than a structural/behavior based approach, and vehicles don't in-and-of themselves change behavior. 2 cents.
  8. An article by one of my favorite modern day thinkers: Nassim Taleb "The Facts are True, the News is Fake: How to Disagree With Yourself" https://medium.com/incerto/the-facts-are-true-the-news-is-fake-5bf98104cea2 ~ JJ
  9. So based on what has transpired during the course of this thread, what is to be made of the current situation related to the SOTU speech given last night, WaPo's choice of headlines, and the state of our media? What are the facts associated with the speech? Was the speech factually represented, or is this an article on the"reaction" to the speech? How did WaPo originally present that from a headline perspective? What was the reaction to the headline? How did the paper respond to the reaction? Why? What can we conclude from this?
  10. So according to the article there was a credibility problem associated with news during the following decades: 1880-1890, 1920-1930, 1960-1970, and 2000-2010. That means that a credibility problem was perceived as often as a non-credibility problem. 8 decades where credibility of the media was in question, and 6 (1900-1910, 1940-1950, 1980-1990) where perceived credibility of the media was less of a problem. Maybe RAND is asking the wrong question. Maybe they should be looking at what factors lead to a perceived increase of credibility with journalistic institutions. So media/journalism as it relates to politics and politicians (and some argue political parties themselves) has been perceived as less worthy of trust more often than worthy of the pedestal that some place on the profession. When speaking at an event I posed the same question to a group of supply-chain professionals as Vern was stating earlier, which is don't pay any attention to the noise created by the media as it is meant to sell papers/secure viewers...not to inform or educate. All the world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players (As You Like It, Act II Scene VII), so even Shakespeare had an appreciation for (if not tendency towards) a level of cynicism. So the question that some of the respondents to this posed is "where do I then get my information if no source can be trusted"? That takes time and attention, reading often, thinking often, and tossing aside that which is irrelevant but is made to look relevant as an appeal to either attract or retain readership/viewership. If one views the news in a detached fashion, you find yourself reading and watching less. Because much of what passes for news is either nonsense or does not impact me directly, I toss it aside and give it little to no thought. Making mountains out of molehills is a wonderful way to attract attention, but it also desensitizes one from when you are looking at a mountain. Maybe it is better to be uninformed rather than misinformed. Just some thoughts.
  11. Vern...as usual thanks for the reference. I like de Botton's work and did not know about this one. Looking forward to getting it.
  12. Jamaal...I would love to get a pre-read of your article (feel free to message me for my email if needed). Aside from Kahneman, Herbert Simon coined the term "satisfycing" when it comes to decision making where no optimal solutions are evident. Also look into his work on "bounded rationality" (decision making with partial information due to lack of time and bandwidth). Each of these pieces influenced Kahneman.
  13. Pepe, interesting that you bring up Nassim Taleb "Intellectual yet idiot". RAND considers the push back on GMO to be an ignorance of the facts, however Taleb believes that the industry is utterly shortsighted on the long term, immeasurable effects of GMO. https://medium.com/incerto/the-logic-of-risk-taking-107bf41029d3 Vern...thank you for anchoring this in the classics. I had forgotten about Socrates who made a living (ok...a meager one, but he lived till he died) poking those who considered themselves "experts" and calls for the banishment of the poets (or rhetoricians) (Apology & The Republic).
  14. Just started reading this RAND report and am finding it interesting enough to share. Makes me also wonder about "Truth Decay" in federal contracting but will finish reading it before pulling on that thread. Sharing in case others find this topic interesting as well: https://www.rand.org/research/projects/truth-decay.html
  15. Khuggart...please feel free to contact me offline. Jon.johnson@gsa.gov. I am familiar with this and can advise.
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