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No reform is immune to practitioner recidivism. It is inevitable. It will happen to other transaction authority and commercial solution openings. Just as sure as the turning of the Earth.

I've already experienced OTA recidivism. The phenomenon is just ... depressing. The entire situation is depressing.

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Good stuff as usual.  Would love to see a real-world example of how it should be done, if such a thing exists.

The question is 'why' this continues, and I believe at least part of the answer lies with the same people who constantly complain about cookie and ashtray specs - the vendor community.  They love "innovation" and "streamlining" until it causes them to lose a competition, and then it's "the Government didn't tell us which version of the Air Force handbook we were supposed to follow".

Be careful what you ask for, etc.

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Our operating environment is risk adverse by nature.  Successful innovation is recognized by a pat on the back.  Errors are punished mostly by blatant and open criticism.  So practitioners revert to tried and proven.  There are no rewards for pushing the envelop.  The old saying of “keep a low profile” still rings true.  So “cut and pasting” of successful actions is common even when the copied examples aren’t really best for the current situation 

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If you are in this business for accolades, you are going to be a manager.  Congratulations.  You’ll talk your way through one big award, get that promotion, and then have your supervisory responsibilities and interoffice politics be the focus of the rest of your career.  Why we still call you 1102 and not an 0343 at that point, nobody knows.

if you are in this business for the art of it, don’t go after those big awards until you reach mid-career.  Instead, practice what is preached on this website under the review thresholds where only you and your supervisor know what you’re doing - like it’s some big secret.  You’ll be recognized as a thought leader when you get to mid-career and start applying sound principles to those big awards.

Templates and samples are touted by the managers, folks.  Edit them and let the managers take all the credit.

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On 6/1/2022 at 3:11 PM, REA'n Maker said:

The question is 'why' this continues...

I think Vern accurately identifies the "why" which he labels "practitioner recidivism" - we have too much training and not nearly enough education. Re-read the last two paragraphs of the article, they're spot on (emphasis added):

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Many acquisition reforms have been subverted by what we call practitioner recidivism. It happens when managers do not prepare working-level practitioners for effective implementation of something new. On-the-job training teaches them practice by cut-and-paste—“Don't reinvent the wheel!”—which is easier to teach than process design based on concepts and sound principles of practice. Faced with something new, and not knowing how to proceed without detailed instructions, they soon do what they were taught to do. So, not understanding the concept of evaluation factor, practitioners stick to the factors used in prior source selections—soundness of approach and under- standing of the requirement, though unable to define approach or soundness or explain what consti- tutes understanding. When entering into commercial contracts, not being familiar with commercial practices, products, services, and contract terms, they cut and paste from Government regulations, manuals, standards, instructions, and old specifications and statements of work. When given considerable freedom to design processes for providing multiple-award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contractors a fair opportunity to be considered for a task order, they resort to the FAR Part 15 process model.

 

No reform is immune to practitioner recidivism. It is inevitable. It will happen to other transaction authority and commercial solution openings. Just as sure as the turning of the Earth. VJE

 

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What a great article. Vern hit it out of the park again.

I have to agree with WifWaf too: "...supervisory responsibilities and interoffice politics be the focus of the rest of your career." The interoffice politics types are really good at it - they've honed their tactics and have been trained in bureaucracy.

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