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I searched the site and could find nobody discussing the NCMA GCMS for this (or prior) years. I have questions!

Have you attended in the past?
Are you going this year (Dec 5-6 in Bethesda, MD)?
Is this a well attended conference by people who participate in Wifcon? Why or why not? Is it worthwhile?
Do you feel vendors get a lot of opportunities to interact with federal decision makers there?

 

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1 hour ago, BrettK said:

Have you attended in the past?
Are you going this year (Dec 5-6 in Bethesda, MD)?
Is this a well attended conference by people who participate in Wifcon? Why or why not? Is it worthwhile?
Do you feel vendors get a lot of opportunities to interact with federal decision makers there?

I have attended several NCMA conferences in the past, including a few World Congresses, where I was a presenter. I have attended NCMA National Education Symposia--and even instructed at one of them. I don't recall with absolute certainty if I've specifically attended a GCMS -- but I think I have (once).

NCMA is a good organization--especially for people new to the field. That being said, I let my membership lapse several years ago (after being a member for ~ 20 years). Consequently, I no longer attend NCMA events.

I can't speak for other WIFCONites, but the event may be worthwhile for YOU if you are new(er) to the field.

No. I think interaction with decision-makers is limited, especially for attendees. The speakers are there to represent their agencies and the Federal government; they don't really have a lot of space to "let their hair down" and interact, assuming they wanted to. In my experience, the best way to get good one-on-one interaction is to be a speaker yourself and hang out in the green room.

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My experience is that NCMA exists primarily to lend credibility to non-certified (DAWIA, FAC-C) contractors who need something on their resume to qualify as Government procurement support personnel.  As a private sector PM, I was constantly confounded by people claiming a CPCM cert was a "FAC-C/DAWIA equivalent".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I've seen "NCMA Fellows" literally escorted off the client site for incompetence (not when I was PM though...).  

The NCMA magazine is also mainly filler and sadly lacking in substance.  I used to work with one of their recurring authors. Her articles are always the same: cut-and-paste from the FAR, re-word it slightly, present that re-wording as "analysis", and then state the obvious conclusion that any GS-7 trainee could figure out from reading the FAR.  The fact that the editors allow such shoddy work just turns me off to the whole enterprise.  How you can allow an article in a professional magazine with no attribution or citation is positively criminal in my mind. It's basically one person's opinion masquerading as professional discourse and doesn't reflect well on the profession at all.

But that's just my opinion.

Now excuse me while I go back to yelling at clouds.

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On 10/25/2022 at 6:29 AM, BrettK said:

Do you feel vendors get a lot of opportunities to interact with federal decision makers there?

If you believe contracting officers are decision makers, yes. Many attendees are members of the acquisition team including contracting officers. The quantity of contacts combined with the opportunities to network could be considered a lot.

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

 I disagree. The audience is there, but they can't afford those publications.

We're not that far apart, Vern. There is a (small) audience for in-depth discussions and analyses, sure. They want what you write but they can't afford to subscribe. (And thank you for often making your articles available to the public.) But it's hard to publish in-depth articles when NCMA's membership covers a wide spectrum of folks, from state/local government buyers to prime contract buyers to commercial buyers. For example, I was just speaking with somebody who's planning to join NCMA in a few weeks or months; she's a buyer for the local school district. She's not looking for--nor is she ready for--a deep dive into, say, FAR Subpart 15.4.

In my view, Contract Management aims for a low common denominator that will be of general interest to the majority of its readers. I quote from current Editorial Guidelines below regarding what the Editors are looking for.

Quote

Contract Management (CM) magazine is the National Contract Management Association’s flagship publication for people and businesses working in the buying and selling communities of both the public and private sectors. With a circulation of 20,000, CM is a monthly magazine written and edited specifically for contract management professionals. Each issue provides comprehensive reporting on issues and trends relevant to contract management of all shapes and sizes.

Common article topics include, but are not limited to: alternative disputes resolution, commercial contracting, construction contract management, environmental contracting, information technology, e-commerce, e-business, education, grants management, health care contracting, international acquisition, program management, small business, state and local government contracting, and professional development.

 

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16 hours ago, REA'n Maker said:

The fact that the editors allow such shoddy work just turns me off to the whole enterprise. 

@REA'n MakerYou know why they print what you're calling "shoddy work"? Because that's mostly what they get.

Try getting today's contracting "professionals" to write something. Those of us who do write regularly are getting old. Cibinic is dead. Feldman died very recently. Nash is in his mid-90s. I'm 76. All the publishers will tell you that getting stuff from the younger generation of contracting "professionals" is almost impossible. Apparently, their writing skills are limited to short emails, texts, and cut-and-paste file documentation. So much for a college degree.

Once upon a time Contract Management carried articles by real pros. Once upon a time there was so much writing about contracting that a company named Federal Publications, Inc., published an annual compilation three inches thick. If the "profession" wants better stuff to read and doesn't like what it's reading, write something. It's not like there is a shortage of subject matter. It's work. It takes practice. But it's rewarding.

Some of the regulars here could write useful articles instead of spending hours answering and arguing over half-baked questions. I could name names, but they know who they are. Don't you, Don, Jamaal, H2H, ji20874, formerfed, Retreadfed, et al. There is one person, who doesn't post here and whom I won't name, but whom I have called the Hunter S. Thompson of acquisition, who really should be writing. All they have to do is cut the profanity. If they wrote a regular column in Contract Management, NCMA could sell the magazine. 

When will one of you write a Briefing Paper for Thomson Reuters?

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Jamaal, are you a lawyer? Briefing Papers used to be written by lawyers.

Nash, Cibinic and Feldman are/were lawyers. I’m sorry to hear about Steve Feldman. He was one of the attorneys in our Office of Counsel in Huntsville, AL. A good man.

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59 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

Jamaal, are you a lawyer?

Nope. However, I am currently a law school student. I’m focusing on government law and policy since I’m chasing that GS-15 procurement analyst position Vern recently posted about.

Aside, I am more interested in the [writing] call to action generally. For that reason, I’ll reach out to the venerable Mr. Edwards.

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1 hour ago, joel hoffman said:

Jamaal, are you a lawyer? Briefing Papers used to be written by lawyers.

@Jamaal Valentine Don't let Joel discourage you, Jamaal. I'm not a lawyer, and I have written several Briefing Papers. And other things I have written have been cited in Briefing Papers written by lawyers. I have also been cited by lawyers in law reviews and journals.

I have written parts of legal textbooks and refused to allow my name to be put on them because I am not a lawyer and I thought that putting my name on the book might reduce its credibility, but lawyers have told me that is not the case.

It's the quality of the work that gets you published and cited, not credentials.

But don't start with Briefing Papers. Start with publications like Contract Management, which is how I started. Build up your writing muscles slowly.

We NEED new writers. It doesn't take genius. It takes work.

 

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However it strikes you.

I embraced the professionalization of the 1102.   When institionalized I enjoined some 15 years of experience with a degree. A degree where I challenged all 45 upper division credits by writing.  Writing that was successfully given the 45 credits by a well known PacificNW College.  I exhausted myself and left writing behind and re-embraced experience.

I respect, enjoy, and relish what writers offer to enhance my experience.

I will always wonder what is of more benefit but neither should be forsaken for the other. 

Countless hours of reading the words of others has been worth it for me both as a practioner and in everyday life.

I hope all pursue that which keeps their passion for the profession alive.

Thank you.

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13 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

 

But don't start with Briefing Papers. Start with publications like Contract Management, which is how I started. Build up your writing muscles slowly.

This is essentially the vector I was looking for. Thank you.

@joel hoffman, were you an 1102? Construction and A-E contracts used to be written by 1102s. (Tongue-in-cheek)

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1 hour ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

Construction and A-E contracts used to be written by 1102s. (Tongue-in-cheek)

USACE Solicitations for construction and AE “used to be written” primarily by other than 1102’s (generally Engineering Division), in many Districts. Contracting and legal reviewed the drafts,  advertised them, received bids or proposals, etc. The contract specialists in some Districts prepared and inserted the Division 01 sections, including proposal submission requirements and evaluation criteria and basis of awards, etc., DBA WD, etc.

When our District began using source selections, my former boss, who was Chief of Contract Administration, took on the job of running the source selections because 1102’s had not yet been appointed as the PCO’s and didn’t want the duties. We retained that role afterward but “worked under the functional direction of the 1102 PCO’s and Chief of Contracting.

I transferred to a higher level Working Division (Steve Feldman’s organization) as Chief of Contract Admin for a Level 1, Major Defense Acquisition Program for my last 10 years of Active Civil Service and was a member of the HQUSACE Program Management Team for the MILCON Transformation Program.

The PCO’s weren’t 1102’s for USACE construction or A-E contracts until the very late 1980’s; the District Engineers or their (military) Deputies were the PCO’s for military and civil works contracts.

In my case, I was an 0810, supervisory civil engineer in the Construction Division (at District level)  and later in Construction Directorate (at a working Division). I was  also certified Contracting Level III, DAWIA in the Acquisition Corps and an ACO.

My Branch and Section oversaw all and performed some of the aspects Contract Admin aspects of all our District’s Construction contracts and later at the Division level.

One of my subordinate personnel or I was on the acquisition team for each contract from acquisition planning through award and oversight or direct performance of all aspects of contract admin during execution.

Part of our acquisition team contract formation duties entailed participating in “writing” the contract requirements, including writing or preparing the various DIV 01 sections for source selections.

Some of my engineer (also supervised  a GS12, 1102) subordinates or I negotiated all sole source contracts for our District. We  led and/or was a member of all the District’s  source selections, directly working for the two 1102 PCO’s (Chief and Assistant Chief of Contracting. They oversaw all my SS actions, writeups, correspondence and made the selections.

In private Practice and as City Engineer, I was (and am) a registered Professional Engineer, planned and designed the projects, wrote and administered the contracts. 

Sorry that I already wrote too much, but you asked a leading question, if I was an 1102.

 

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4 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

@joel hoffmanAs you know, historically, the organization of contracting in the Corps of Engineers has been dissimilar to the organization of contracting in other federal agencies and to other service branches. 

Yep, I know. Jamaal used to be in USACE but that was fairly recently. He asked me a loaded question.  

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23 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

Some of the regulars here could write useful articles instead of spending hours answering and arguing over half-baked questions. 

When will one of you write a Briefing Paper for Thomson Reuters?

I enjoy writing and did a lot several years ago.  But instead of articles like the Briefing Papers, I prefer covering things like different ways of performing acquisitions and associated functions.  One I did that got a huge amount of feedback was on Share-in-Savings contracts.  At least one agency had success with it but it wasn’t widely adopted mostly because nobody knew how to proceed or were too reluctant to try.

This thread got me interested in writing more.  One subject I think I’ll cover is use of past performance.  Maybe another is evaluation schemes tailored to specific acquisition subject matter commodities instead of all the typical boilerplate plans.  The problem is now that I’m retired, I no longer have editors and graphics people to make me look better than I am.

 

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33 minutes ago, formerfed said:

But instead of articles like the Briefing Papers, I prefer covering things like different ways of performing acquisitions and associated functions.

Sounds like the kind of thing I wrote in the Briefing Paper entitled, A Primer On Source Selection Planning: Evaluation Factors And Rating Methods and the one I wrote on Award Fee Contracting.

Why can't you write a Briefing Paper on ways of performing acquisitions and associated functions?

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2 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

Sounds like the kind of thing I wrote in the Briefing Paper entitled, A Primer On Source Selection Planning: Evaluation Factors And Rating Methods and the one I wrote on Award Fee Contracting.

Why can't you write a Briefing Paper on ways of performing acquisitions and associated functions?

I guess I can.  I know some Briefing Papers are available online without a subscription.  I’ll take a look at those, familiarize myself again, and maybe take a shot.

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On 10/28/2022 at 2:23 PM, here_2_help said:

We're not that far apart, Vern. There is a (small) audience for in-depth discussions and analyses, sure. They want what you write but they can't afford to subscribe. (And thank you for often making your articles available to the public.) But it's hard to publish in-depth articles when NCMA's membership covers a wide spectrum of folks, from state/local government buyers to prime contract buyers to commercial buyers. For example, I was just speaking with somebody who's planning to join NCMA in a few weeks or months; she's a buyer for the local school district. She's not looking for--nor is she ready for--a deep dive into, say, FAR Subpart 15.4.

h_t_h:

In the normal course of Wifcon.com business, I noticed an old article published on Wifcon.com from many years ago.  I noticed it because It was the most popular article viewed on Wifcon.com in September 2022. 

h_2_h ---- it was one of your articles.

I will add more to this note at a later date.

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