Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
Don Mansfield

Federal Contracting Myths

Recommended Posts

Wifconners,

I'm looking for examples of common myths/misunderstandings in Federal contracting. I'm particularly interested in beliefs that Federal contracting folks seem to cling to, even though they have no basis in law or regulation. Or, the rules have long changed, but some folks seem to have not received the message. For example, here are some I've observed:

1. Changes within 10-15% of the contract price are within scope.

2. In an IDIQ contract with options, each option year must have its own minimum.

3. Offerors with no record of past performance must be rated neutral.

4. Price analysis is always required.

5. You can't tell an offeror that his price is too high or too low during discussions.

6. An unsuccessful offeror's name cannot be disclosed during a debriefing.

7. Contingencies are unallowable costs.

I get most of these from my students, who pick them up at their offices. Some myths/misunderstandings transcend agency lines.

Think of things that are said by PWACs who think they know something about contracting.

Thank you and have fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards
Wifconners,

I'm looking for examples of common myths/misunderstandings in Federal contracting. I'm particularly interested in beliefs that Federal contracting folks seem to cling to, even though they have no basis in law or regulation. Or, the rules have long changed, but some folks seem to have not received the message. For example, here are some I've observed:

1. Changes within 10-15% of the contract price are within scope.

2. In an IDIQ contract with options, each option year must have its own minimum.

3. Offerors with no record of past performance must be rated neutral.

4. Price analysis is always required.

5. You can't tell an offeror that his price is too high or too low during discussions.

6. An unsuccessful offeror's name cannot be disclosed during a debriefing.

7. Contingencies are unallowable costs.

I get most of these from my students, who pick them up at their offices. Some myths/misunderstandings transcend agency lines.

Think of things that are said by PWACs who think they know something about contracting.

Thank you and have fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

During a source selection, anything that you say to one offeror you must say to all other offerors.

You can tell an offeror what's wrong with its proposal, but you can't tell the offeror how to fix it.

You can tell an offeror that its price is too high, but you can't tell the offeror by how much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When these are all compiled would someone please do a "myth busting" post debunking these beliefs? I am going to work on the ones that I thought were true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a comment . . .

Your proposition implies an all-or-nothing viewpoint for the statements in question. IMHO, there can be different shades of gray in situations where these guidelines are being applied in real world situations.

"Klaatu, put your helmet on; you're not the one who's indestructible! "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just a comment . . .

Your proposition implies an all-or-nothing viewpoint for the statements in question. IMHO, there can be different shades of gray in situations where these guidelines are being applied in real world situations.

"Klaatu, you're not the one who's indestructible! "

Gort,

For example?

Barada Nikto.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When these are all compiled would someone please do a "myth busting" post debunking these beliefs? I am going to work on the ones that I thought were true.

Yes, I plan to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Vern,

I've heard you talk about the myth you mentioned before in person. Instead of having to wait for Don's report of myths and facts, it would be very helpful to understand what you mean exactly. Would you please explain why this is a myth please?

To go further, since you are imparting your wisdom by providing this myth, are you pointing this out so current federal contracting officers will stop perpetuating this myth? If so, what are your recommendations for accomplishing this? Each time someone says this, are we to correct them politely and explain all the others who can actually obligate the Government?

BTW - your blogs are great. Has anyone from the president-elect's camp contacted you yet for OMB acq czar post yet? How about one of the other key agency CAO positions? Probably does not pay enough for you though, right? I am sure most of us on the wifcon forum would support your nomination to a key position of influence. At least then it would not just be website recommendations.

Cheers,

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gort,

For example?

Barada Nikto.

* Whether changes are within scope within those percentage parameters may turn out to be true in some cases, so I submit that phrasing of the conditional makes it a go-no go proposition based strictly on the percentages quoted.

* When is price analysis not required? Are we talking of broad agency announcements for basic research or other cases when only costs and fees are involved rather than price, such as A-E services?

In these instances, I would say there are gray areas.

"I wonder if I can find someone on craigslist to give me a cool tat so I can blend?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

-That, when conducting discussions, you must have the same number of rounds of questions for each offeror

-That you must/should incorporate an offeror's technical proposal into the contract

-That the CON/DAWIA sequence prepares you to be a Contracting Officer :D (sorry-had to put a little snark in there)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
* Whether changes are within scope within those percentage parameters may turn out to be true in some cases, so I submit that phrasing of the conditional makes it a go-no go proposition based strictly on the percentages quoted.

* When is price analysis not required? Are we talking of broad agency announcements for basic research or other cases when only costs and fees are involved rather than price, such as A-E services?

In these instances, I would say there are gray areas.

"I wonder if I can find someone on craigslist to give me a cool tat so I can blend?"

Gort,

Of course, you could create fact-specific scenarios to make those statements true. However, many people believe some or most of these statements to be true as general propositions. They don't see the "shades of gray."

As you learn more about earthlings, you will understand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards
Vern,

I've heard you talk about the myth you mentioned before in person. Instead of having to wait for Don's report of myths and facts, it would be very helpful to understand what you mean exactly. Would you please explain why this is a myth please?

To go further, since you are imparting your wisdom by providing this myth, are you pointing this out so current federal contracting officers will stop perpetuating this myth? If so, what are your recommendations for accomplishing this? Each time someone says this, are we to correct them politely and explain all the others who can actually obligate the Government?

BTW - your blogs are great. Has anyone from the president-elect's camp contacted you yet for OMB acq czar post yet? How about one of the other key agency CAO positions? Probably does not pay enough for you though, right? I am sure most of us on the wifcon forum would support your nomination to a key position of influence. At least then it would not just be website recommendations.

Cheers,

Matt

Matt:

Many officials can obligate the government besides contracting officers. When a personnel officer signs a form making a person an employee, he or she is obligating the government. FAR does not say that only contracting officers can obligate the government. It says that only contracting officers can sign contracts. See FAR 1.601. In saying that, it is referring to the procurement contracts described in 31 U.S.C. ? 6303. The government enters into other types of contracts, as well, for which contracting officers have no authority.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Government is willing to pay 5% more to award to a business with a socio-economic category than it is a large business. Anything greater than 5% is not considered "fair and reasonable".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

You have to have a "warrant" in order to be a contracting officer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That PD2 or whatever automated system you are using will actually insert the correct clauses/provisions for your particular acquisition, and that there is no need to refer to the FAR matrix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That PD2 or whatever automated system you are using will actually insert the correct clauses/provisions for your particular acquisition, and that there is no need to refer to the FAR matrix.

I always got annoyed when I asked why a clause was in a document and the reply was "I don't know. The system put it in"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Matt:

Many officials can obligate the government besides contracting officers. When a personnel officer signs a form making a person an employee, he or she is obligating the government. FAR does not say that only contracting officers can obligate the government. It says that only contracting officers can sign contracts. See FAR 1.601. In saying that, it is referring to the procurement contracts described in 31 U.S.C. ? 6303. The government enters into other types of contracts, as well, for which contracting officers have no authority.

Vern:

Got it - I guess I did misunderstand when I heard you say that during one of your talks. I read 1.601 and 1.602 again. Thank you.

Perhaps I should start a new thread concerning the second question I asked you. Or, if you want to email WE are interested to know. I think the only way to change the federal acquisition system is to get competent, passionate leaders who care about the subject, into the key positions, rather than political cronies. Yes We Can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That 10% profit is fair and reasonable.

If a contractor doesn't ask for money when a change is made, it is not a change.

That contracting must always prepare the acquisition plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...