Jump to content

Recommended Posts

QUESTION: Does a QASP have to be included in the solicitation?

I ask this because an experienced CO with more than two decades under his belt told me that there is no requirement in the FAR or anywhere else for the CO to include the QASP in the solicitation or in the awarded contract.

I find this strange.

So I was looking in Nash and Cibinic's "Contract Administration" book on the chapter on Quality Assurance/Inspection. They cited FAR 46.201. BTW, FAR PART 46 is all about "Quality Assurance" in general. At FAR 46.201(a), Contract Quality Requirements, it states,

"The CO SHALL include in the solicitation and contract the appropriate quality requirements. The type and extent of contract quality requirements needed depends on the particular acquisition and may range from INSPECTION AT TIME OF ACCEPTANCE to a requirement for the contractor's implementation of a comprehensive program for controlling quality . . . "

Would a QASP meet the definition of "the appropriate quality requirements" as used in FAR 46.201? If so, doesn't that mean then, that FAR 46.201 is saying the QASP shall be "included" in the solicitation/contract?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would a QASP meet the definition of "the appropriate quality requirements" as used in FAR 46.201? If so, doesn't that mean then, that FAR 46.201 is saying the QASP shall be "included" in the solicitation/contract?

No and no.

As far as I know, a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan is a plan for Government QA oversight of the Contractor's Quality Control System and/or contractor performance. See : https://dap.dau.mil/acquipedia/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?aid=07612fab-5891-4078-abfc-a6a7ca2b8c0a

The quality requirements you referred to at 46.201 are those that describe the required quality of the product or service to be provided under the contract. See the definitions at FAR 46.101:

“ 'Contract quality requirements' means the technical requirements in the contract relating to the quality of the product or service and those contract clauses prescribing inspection, and other quality controls incumbent on the contractor, to assure that the product or service conforms to the contractual requirements."

“ 'Government contract quality assurance' means the various functions, including inspection, performed by the Government to determine whether a contractor has fulfilled the contract obligations pertaining to quality and quantity."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards
Would a QASP meet the definition of "the appropriate quality requirements" as used in FAR 46.201? If so, doesn't that mean then, that FAR 46.201 is saying the QASP shall be "included" in the solicitation/contract?

Yes and yes.

FAR 46.201 and the definition of "contract quality requirements" at FAR 46.101 require the incorporation of QASPs into solicitations and contracts. However, it is apparent that there is some difference of opinion about that.

The document that first mentioned QASPs was Air Force Regulation 400-28, published in 1979, which become OFPP Pamphlet No. 4, "A Guide for Writing and Administering Performance Statements of Work for Service Contracts" in 1980. It's available online. It described QASPs and explained how to use them in Chapter 6, "Quality Control and Preaward Surveys." Paragraph 6.1b said:

To aid contractors in developing a quality control program, the contracting officer must provide the government Quality Assurance (QA) Surveillance plan along with the Invitation for Bids or Request for Proposal.

Paragraph 6.1c then said:

Make sure to mark the QA surveillance plan with the following statement: “For Information Purposes Only. This Quality Assurance surveillance plan is not part of the Request for Proposal or Invitation for Bids not will it be made part of any resulting contract.” Use this statement since the government must retain the right to change or modify inspections methods.

FAR is a regulation. OFPP Pamphlet No. 4 is not and is no longer in effect. AFR 400-28 was cancelled long ago.

In my opinion, FAR requires that the QASP be in the solicitation and become part of the contract. The Government's QASP can have a big impact on product or service quality standards, and can be an important factor in determining performance costs. The QASP should be part of the statement of work. Incorporating the QASP into the contract should not hamper the Government's ability to change its QA methods, since that can be done by change order under the Changes clause, if necessary. The Government ought to compensate the contractor if a change in its QA methods increases the cost and time required for performance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe and Maybe.....

FAR 37.604 Quality assurance surveillance plans.

Requirements for quality assurance and quality assurance surveillance plans are in Subpart 46.4. The Government may either prepare the quality assurance surveillance plan or require the offerors to submit a proposed quality assurance surveillance plan for the Government’s consideration in development of the Government’s plan.

If you are new at PBA and have not been here I highly suggest the use of this tool.....

http://www.acquisition.gov/sevensteps/introduction.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes and yes.

FAR 46.201 and the definition of "contract quality requirements" at FAR 46.101 require the incorporation of QASPs into solicitations and contracts. However, it is apparent that there is some difference of opinion about that.

In my opinion, FAR requires that the QASP be in the solicitation and become part of the contract. The Government's QASP can have a big impact on product or service quality standards, and can be an important factor in determining performance costs. The QASP should be part of the statement of work. Incorporating the QASP into the contract should not hamper the Government's ability to change its QA methods, since that can be done by change order under the Changes clause, if necessary. The Government ought to compensate the contractor if a change in its QA methods increases the cost and time required for performance. I don't read where FAR 46.201 requires that the QASP be incorporated into the solicitatyion and contract.

Vern, I don't read where FAR 46.201 requires that the entire QASP be incorporated into the solicitation and contract. I may be wrong.

The government prepares the QASP during preparation of the statement of work ("in conjunction with") but I don't see where FAR requires the Plan to be incorporated into the contract. The government should also be able to amend the QA plan if necessary without having to modify the contract.

I do think that details of the plan that would affect the contractor, performance or acceptance must be included in the contract.

46.401 -- General.

(a) Government contract quality assurance shall be performed at such times (including any stage of manufacture or performance of services) and places (including subcontractors’ plants) as may be necessary to determine that the supplies or services conform to contract requirements. Quality assurance surveillance plans should be prepared in conjunction with the preparation of the statement of work. The plans should specify --

(1) All work requiring surveillance; and

(2) The method of surveillance.

( B)Each contract shall designate the place or places where the Government reserves the right to perform quality assurance.

Also, see the definition of conjunction from the Merriam Webster Dictionary at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conjunction:

con·junc·tion noun \kən-ˈjəŋ(k)-shən\

grammar : a word that joins together sentences, clauses, phrases, or words

: a situation in which two or more things happen at the same time or in the same place

Here is what the DFAR Supplement: says (empasis added):

246.401 General.

The requirement for a quality assurance surveillance plan shall be addressed and documented in the contract file for each contract except for those awarded using simplified acquisition procedures. For contracts for services, the contracting officer should prepare a quality assurance surveillance plan to facilitate assessment of contractor performance, see 237.172. For contracts for supplies, the contracting officer should address the need for a quality assurance surveillance plan.

Are "contract file" and "contract" the same thing? I don't think so. The contract file contains much more than the contract.

37.604 -- Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans.

Requirements for quality assurance and quality assurance surveillance plans are in Subpart 46.4. The Government may either prepare the quality assurance surveillance plan or require the offerors to submit a proposed quality assurance surveillance plan for the Government’s consideration in development of the Government’s plan.

The government retains the actual plan in the contract file. For DoD:

237.172 Service contracts surveillance.

Ensure that quality assurance surveillance plans are prepared in conjunction with the preparation of the statement of work or statement of objectives for solicitations and contracts for services. These plans should be tailored to address the performance risks inherent in the specific contract type and the work effort addressed by the contract. (See FAR Subpart 46.4.) Retain quality assurance surveillance plans in the official contract file. See https://sam.dau.mil, Step Four – Requirements Definition, for examples of quality assurance surveillance plans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about FAR 37.601 (b ) (2), which states:

Performance-based contracts for services shall include . . . .Measurable performance standards (i.e., in terms of quality, timeliness, quantity, etc.) and the method of assessing contractor performance against performance standards . . . "

Wouldn't the QASP qualify as "the method of assessing contractor performance against performance standards"? Ergo, the contract, only if it is "performance-based," must include the QASP?

Thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about FAR 37.601( B)(2), which states:

Performance-based contracts for services shall include . . . .Measurable performance standards (i.e., in terms of quality, timeliness, quantity, etc.) and the method of assessing contractor performance against performance standards . . . "

Wouldn't the QASP qualify as "the method of assessing contractor performance against performance standards"? Ergo, the contract, only if it is "performance-based," must include the QASP?

Thoughts?

I said:

I do think that details of the plan that would affect the contractor, performance or acceptance must be included in the contract.

Hopefully, the QASP includes more than just the acceptance standards. Maybe it is merely semantics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Joel's original answer on this. I don't consider a QASP to be a "technical requirement[] . . . relating to the quality of the product or service" nor is it one of the "contract clauses prescribing inspection, and other quality controls incumbent on the contractor." I consider it a plan for how the government is going to monitor the contractor's compliance with those technical requirements and contract clauses, so while some, or even all of the requirements and clauses may be mentioned in the QASP, it isn't the QASP that imposes the requirements. Thus, I also agree that FAR 46.201 is not saying the QASP shall be included in the solicitation/contract.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards

I don't know what you guys call a QASP. I go by the original description, which is in OFPP Pamphlet No. 4. Everything in such a QASP affects the contractor.

The original PBSC QASP concept involved random sampling, sample sizes, random number tables, acceptable quality levels, acceptance levels, rejection levels, etc. Such QA methods have great technical and legal significance with respect to acceptance and rejection, especially if QA is based on random sampling. Such QASPs definitely are "technical requirements in the contract relating to the quality of the product or service." They have played a large role in claims, disputes, and appeals, whether incorporated into the contract or not. See, e.g., Job Options, Inc. ASBCA No. 56698 10-1 BCA ¶ 34444; PRIDE Industries, ASBCA 55771, 08-1 BCA ¶ 3375; and Hughes Moving & Storage, Inc., ASBCA 45346, 98-1 BCA ¶ 29693. Thus, I disagree entirely with Navy's analysis and conclusion.

However, it's pointless for us to continue arguing about this until we know what everyone means by "QASP". I've explained what I mean.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not seeing how to reconcile the no-QASP-required-in-the-solicitation-or-contract position with the following BCA decisions:

In Tester Corp., ASBCA 21312, 78-2 BCA P 13,373, the board held that, if the GOVT changes the test method for inspection, it must inform the KTR of what test results are to be met under the new test.

In Pinay Flooring Prods., Inc., GSBCA 9286, 91-2 BCA P 23,682, the board held that, after years of allowing testing to be done a certain way, the GOVT was not entitled to change the test method without giving notice to the KTR.

If the GOVT has a duty to give advance notice to a KTR of changes to "test results" standards and changes to the "test method," doesn't it follow that the GOVT has a duty at the beginning of a contract, to give notice to the KTR of what the original test results/test method will be?

And isn't the "test method" also known as the "QASP" in performance-based service contracts? So therefore, the QASP must be provided to the KTR prior to the start of performance? In fact, since it could affect how they craft their technical approach, their entire proposal, both technical and cost/price, etc., doesn't the GOVT have a duty to provide the QASP to the KTR in the solicitation stage?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what you guys call a QASP. I go by the original description, which is in OFPP Pamphlet No. 4. Everything in such a QASP affects the contractor.

. . .

However, it's pointless for us to continue arguing about this until we know what everyone means by "QASP". I've explained what I mean.

FAR 37.604 addresses "Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans." In other words, QASPs. But it does not define QASP. All it says is, the reader must look to FAR Subpart 46.4 for "Requirements" for QASPs.

So we go to FAR 46.4. Wait, first let's look at definitions in FAR 46.1.

FAR Part 46 is all about "Quality Assurance." At FAR 46.10, Definitions, it defines "Government contract quality assurance" as "means the various functions, including inspection, performed by the Government to determine whether a contractor has fulfilled the contract obligations pertaining to quality and quantity."

FAR 46.101 further defines "Testing" as a component of "inspection that determines the properties or elements."

Now we go to FAR 46.4, Government Contract Quality Assurance. At FAR 46.401, it says QASPS "should be prepared in conjunction with the preparation of the SOW.," and that the QASP "should" specify all work requiring surveillance, and "the method of surveillance."

So there is no express definition of QASP, but it looks like we can infer that QASPs involve inspection of the KTR's work, and that inspection can involve testing the KTR's work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The OFPP Pamphlet that is no longer in effect explains "Surveillance Plan" thusly:

Surveillance Plan. An organized written document used for quality assurance surveillance. The document contains sampling guides, checklists, and decision tables.

Certainly, if the QASP is the only place that specifies sampling guides, checklists, and decision tables, then it needs to be provided with the solicitation and made a part of the contract. In my experience, test requirements, including sampling guides, checklists, and decision tables, have been a part of the specification or SOW, not just in a QASP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The OFPP Pamphlet that is no longer in effect explains "Surveillance Plan" thusly:

Certainly, if the QASP is the only place that specifies sampling guides, checklists, and decision tables, then it needs to be provided with the solicitation and made a part of the contract. In my experience, test requirements, including sampling guides, checklists, and decision tables, have been a part of the specification or SOW, not just in a QASP.

See, this makes me think of the Performance Requirements Summary (PRS). In my own experience, the QASP and PRS are so closely intertwined that they are created/drafted together at the same time. And as it says in FAR 46.401, the QASP "should" be prepared in conjunction with the SOW. So that leads me to conclude that the PRS, which usually contains the objective, measurable standards for a PBSC, and those often involve the sampling method, must also be drafted in conjunction with the SOW. The PRS often appears in Section C, SOW. SO the PRS is part of the SOW anyways.

But how can the agency figure out the PRS chart if it hasn't first hashed out its QASP? So that is making me believe the QASP and PRS, both of them, have to be done when the SOW is drafted. And if the solicitation has the PRS in Section C, the SOW, but no correlating QASP included, how can the GOVT, assuming it somehow failed to create the QASP "in conjunction" with the SOW like it is supposed to, suddenly create the QASP post-award, and still have it compatible with the PRS, which is already "set in stone" in the awarded contract? I know the contract could be modified later, but still, it doesn't make sense . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards

What you have to remember (or learn, if you do not know) is that OFPP Pamphlet No. 4 (actually, its source, AFR 400-28) was a first attempt to apply manufacturing methods of QA to services acquisition. Thus: random sampling, random number tables, lot sizes, sample sizes, acceptable quality levels, acceptance levels, rejection levels, etc. It was an attempt to bring the same kind of scientific QA to services acquisition as was used in manufacturing. If you are going to do that sort of thing, then you've got to make the QASP part of the contract, as you would in a contract for supplies. Under OFPP No. 4, the PWS, PRS, and QASP were part of a system. Under today's FAR, you must include that kind of info in the contract.

But who knows what's in a "QASP" these days. Most people still silly enough to use PBSC and its paraphernalia probably don't know the history of it all, and what they call a QASP contains who knows what. That's why I said that the answer to govt2310's question depends on what's in the QASP. You all are talking about QASP as if it means something that is across-the-board specific, but it does not.

If it includes the info required to be in the original QASPs, then under FAR rules it must be included in the solicitation and contract.

QASP is a more complicated concept than most people realize. When someone asks a question, you must think through what they are asking and ask yourself if you understand them before you answer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of ways to do PBA. One of the most flexible is the government using a SOO in the RFP. The SOO just states desired outcomes and offerors are free to propose varying solutions. Those individual solutions should include a uniquely developed PWS that can be incorporated into the contract. The individual offerors also propose their own metrics and incentive plans, along with a QASP. Ideally the metrics and incentive plan are in the form of a Performance Requirements Summary (PRS). Then the chief difference between the PRS and QASP is inclusion of the surveillance methodology in the QASP.

But there are lots of variations of this approach.

For one thing, unless you are dealing with very experienced companies, they may not understand PBA. The responses you get back are all over the place. So many agencies found it's better and easier to include sample performance metrics and QASP with the solicitation. They note offerors are free to propose alternatives if they wish. The thought behind this is if the government gets a wide variety of alternative approaches, metrics and incentives for one approach may not be well suited for another.

Another twist to all this is offerors sometime can propose a QA plan. This essentially includes how the offeror intends to maintain quality and meet the performance metrics proposed. The government then relies on the contractors QA plan and system to ensure quality. The QASP is the governments’ verification that the contractor is doing the proper QA job. The majority of people doing PBA feel it’s only fair and proper to include the QASP into the contract. However others don’t agree. Some think since the QASP is only verification of the contractors QAP, there’s no further reason to contractually incorporate how the government verifies quality. A few also think the only thing that contractually matters is the performance metrics.

Unfortunately there’s no one clear and common way to do this. You need to be crystal clear in the solicitation what you want and need from offerors as well as the process to follow post-award.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards

formerfed:

Love ya, but PBA is nonsense except for simple services, and even then PBA is difficult to do. You said, "nless you are dealing with very experienced companies, they may not understand PBA." Well, the truth is that nobody understands PBA. If they did, they wouldn't try it. Experienced companies are just better at going along with the government's program. Give me one hour in front of an audience to ask a PBA expert some Socratic questions about PBA, and I'll reduce him or her to a puddle of goo and cure the audience of any PBA tendencies it might have had. Just one hour minutes. Pick your expert. All I ask is a neutral audience.

Sorry, but whenever I hear what sounds like an advertisement for PBA I feel my blood start to boil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

QUESTION: Does a QASP have to be included in the solicitation?

I ask this because an experienced CO with more than two decades under his belt told me that there is no requirement in the FAR or anywhere else for the CO to include the QASP in the solicitation or in the awarded contract.

I find this strange.

govt2310, why did the experienced CO say that there is no requirement to include the QASP in the solicitation or contract? Did you ask for an explanation from this person?

Here are some examples of QASP's that contain much more information than the basis for inspection and acceptance. It would not be suitable to include the entire plan as part of the contract. Do you see the difference between some of the information in the QASP and information that would be directly applicable to the contractor concerning what constitutes acceptable performance? If the QASP is a living document, the entire plan shouldn't be part of the contract itself. Portions of it would be included in the contract.

www.acquisition.gov/sevensteps/library/navy_ils_qasp.doc

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=9&ved=0CGMQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hill.af.mil%2Fshared%2Fmedia%2Fdocument%2FAFD-120119-075.doc&ei=-r2PU__YJZCtyATAvoGgDg&usg=AFQjCNG3MCSAOuPkQVbZhskmE_-K5A8kqw

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards

COs should be very careful about what they put into contracts, which is why I have advised against incorporating entire technical and management proposals into contracts. COs should be especially careful about incorporating any document the title of which includes the word "plan," because plans generally are intentional, not promissory. They describe what some "plans" to do. A common assumption is that a plan is contingent on events, not promissory. Plans are subject to the vagaries of chance. Then again, so are promises. Thus, we have "differing site condition" clauses.

Our discussion here began with a question: Should a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), assuming that there is one, (1) be issued with a solicitation and (2) incorporated into the resulting contract. We saw that the document that initially referred to QASPs, AFR 400-28/OFPP Pamphlet No. 4, said yes to (1) and no to (2). It also described the contents of a QASP in some detail. Those documents predated FAR, and FAR now says (I don't know its history in this regard) that "contract quality requirements" must be incorporated into contracts. FAR defines contract quality requirements as follows:

“Contract quality requirements” means the technical requirements in the contract relating to the quality of the product or service and those contract clauses prescribing inspection, and other quality controls incumbent on the contractor, to assure that the product or service conforms to the contractual requirements.

Here is what OFPP Pamphlet No. 4 says about writing a surveillance plan:

c. Writing a Surveillance Plan. The surveillance plan is a document used to make sure that systematic quality assurance methods are used. It assumes that the contractor is responsible for managing and controlling the output of service. The government plan seeks to determine if contractor-provided service meets the quantity and quality standards. The development of the plan involves these major steps:

(1) Identifying Key Performance Indicators. The job analysis phase identified many performance indicators. Not all of these indicators are critical to the service being provided. During this step the analyst must decide which indicators to include in the plan, using as criteria, the criticality of the process and its output, the availability of quality assurance manpower, and the adaptability of each indicator to overlap and check many kinds of outputs.

(2) Identify Information Sources. Each plan uses many sources of information (for example, existing management information systems, customer complaints, and random sampling).

(3) Develop Tools. The writer of the surveillance plan has many tools. These tools are:

(a) The Sampling Guide. The sampling guide is a written procedure which states what will be checked, the standard of performance, and how the checking will be done. (For a sample guide, see Chapter 4). The sampling guides used in this regulation are based on statistical techniques called for in Military Standard 105D, Sampling Procedures and Tables for inspection by Attributes. By sampling a small part of the total service in a random fashion, the QAE can accept or reject the service, based on the standard.

( b ) Decision Tables. When a service is rejected, a decision must be made as to who is at fault (the contractor or the government). A decision table is used for this purpose. The decision table identifies different kinds of unsatisfactory performance, probable cause factors, and the things from which these factors could result.

( c) Checklist. The last tool is the checklist. Checklists as used to record what has been checked by a sampling guide and to record information on contract items not covered by sampling.

(d) Do Surveillance. The final step is doing surveillance, that is, taking the written surveillance plan and using it on a daily basis. In this step, random samples are drawn and schedules of quality assurance inspections made. Contractor discrepancies are documented and corrective action taken. If appropriate, money is deducted from a contractor’s payment by the contracting officer.

The above facets of QA will significantly affect the design, performance, and costs of contractor service operations, especially when service is performed in non-factory conditions and entail a high level of interaction with human subjects or recipients and when the Government will use rely on customer complaints and random sampling as key sources of performance information. The way you assure quality affects the definition of quality that you are assuring. When random sampling is used, lot size, sample size, sample selection method, and inspection frequency, are all important factors in service operations design, and performance, and output acceptance and rejection.

I do not understand how the things described above cannot be considered "contract quality requirements." Any change in any of those elements could significantly affect assessments of performance quality, rates of acceptance and rejection, and thus, payment. That is especially true when you consider that most services are not performed under factory conditions and that reactions to service performance are often largely if not entirely subjective. Anyone who thinks that the Government can avoid contractual implications by excluding such information from a contract while acting upon it in order to determine the acceptability of the contractor's work simply is not thinking the problem through and must be unfamiliar with QA case law produced by the boards of contract appeals and the courts, as is indicated in the decisions that I cited earlier. In my opinion, however one might be inclined to interpret FAR Part 46, a professional approach to developing a satisfactory contractual relationship requires that the Government put all of its cards on the table. To think that one can elude contractual responsibility and liability by excluding such information from the contract is to be naive about how contract law really works.

By the way, with reference to a comment made by govt2310 in Post # 14, if we go by OFPP Pamphlet No. 4, the information described in the quote above is not included in the Performance Work Statement (PWS) or the Performance Requirements Summary (PRS), only in the QASP. FAR does not specify detailed content of a PWS, does not mention a PRS, and provides no details about the content of a QASP.

Which brings us back to the question: What is in govt2310's QASP?

I should add that we are using the term QASP inconsistently with the guidance published by DOD in 2000. See Guidebook for Performance-Based Services Acquisition (PBSA) in the Department of Defense (December 2000), available here: http://www.acquisition.gov/sevensteps/library/DODguidebook-pbsa.pdf. As used in that guidebook, the Quality Assurance Plan was a contractor document. DOD called what we are calling QASP the "Performance Assessment Plan".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vern,

Haha. No thanks. I wouldn't want to be the person you asked PBA questions to in front of an audience. The bottom line is any defense doesn't have data to support its position. Success stories are based on anecdotes and not actual savings or measurable benefits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

joel Hoffman asked in post #18:

govt2310, why did the experienced CO say that there is no requirement to include the QASP in the solicitation or contract? Did you ask for an explanation from this person?

Answer: The CO said that they just don't see anything in the FAR that requires the QASP to be put into the solicitation and/or contract. That was their entire explanation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . .

Here are some examples of QASP's that contain much more information than the basis for inspection and acceptance. It would not be suitable to include the entire plan as part of the contract. Do you see the difference between some of the information in the QASP and information that would be directly applicable to the contractor concerning what constitutes acceptable performance? If the QASP is a living document, the entire plan shouldn't be part of the contract itself. Portions of it would be included in the contract.

To joel Hoffman post #18:

Ok, yes, I see from the example QASPs you provided how it would be awkward to include the QASP in the solicitation/contract.

Perhaps the entire PBSC QASP format is messed up and needs revision in the FAR.

What is challenging and frustrating is that, some of the info typically in QASPs (e.g., the testing method like random sampling, the frequency of testing/sampling, what constitutes "passing" the test or what the standards are, etc.) must go into the solicitation so the KTR can take that stuff into account when formulating its proposal. But then there is this other stuff, like the checklist tracking that you showed in your example QASPs, that obviously is not logical to include in the solicitation as it is a "living document" as you say. Then what happens is that some agency contracting professionals put ALL of the info described into the QASP, then don't put the QASP into the solicitation because they believe the FAR doesn't explicitly say, the QASP must be included. I wish they would read Vern's blog post "Think! (maybe)." What needs to be done is for contracting professionals to go over the QASP with a fine-tooth comb and pick out the necessary info to share with the offerors/contractors, such as the testing method of random sampling etc., and put that into the solicitation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Our discussion here began with a question: Should a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), assuming that there is one, (1) be issued with a solicitation and (2) incorporated into the resulting contract. We saw that the document that initially referred to QASPs, AFR 400-28/OFPP Pamphlet No. 4, said yes to (1) and no to (2). It also described the contents of a QASP in some detail. Those documents predated FAR, and FAR now says (I don't know its history in this regard) that "contract quality requirements" must be incorporated into contracts. FAR defines contract quality requirements as follows:

“Contract quality requirements” means the technical requirements in the contract relating to the quality of the product or service and those contract clauses prescribing inspection, and other quality controls incumbent on the contractor, to assure that the product or service conforms to the contractual requirements.

Here is what OFPP Pamphlet No. 4 says about writing a surveillance plan:

c. Writing a Surveillance Plan. The surveillance plan is a document used to make sure that systematic quality assurance methods are used. It assumes that the contractor is responsible for managing and controlling the output of service. The government plan seeks to determine if contractor-provided service meets the quantity and quality standards. The development of the plan involves these major steps:

(1) Identifying Key Performance Indicators. The job analysis phase identified many performance indicators. Not all of these indicators are critical to the service being provided. During this step the analyst must decide which indicators to include in the plan, using as criteria, the criticality of the process and its output, the availability of quality assurance manpower, and the adaptability of each indicator to overlap and check many kinds of outputs.

(2) Identify Information Sources. Each plan uses many sources of information (for example, existing management information systems, customer complaints, and random sampling).

(3) Develop Tools. The writer of the surveillance plan has many tools. These tools are:

(a) The Sampling Guide. The sampling guide is a written procedure which states what will be checked, the standard of performance, and how the checking will be done. (For a sample guide, see Chapter 4). The sampling guides used in this regulation are based on statistical techniques called for in Military Standard 105D, Sampling Procedures and Tables for inspection by Attributes. By sampling a small part of the total service in a random fashion, the QAE can accept or reject the service, based on the standard.

( b ) Decision Tables. When a service is rejected, a decision must be made as to who is at fault (the contractor or the government). A decision table is used for this purpose. The decision table identifies different kinds of unsatisfactory performance, probable cause factors, and the things from which these factors could result.

( c) Checklist. The last tool is the checklist. Checklists as used to record what has been checked by a sampling guide and to record information on contract items not covered by sampling.

(d) Do Surveillance. The final step is doing surveillance, that is, taking the written surveillance plan and using it on a daily basis. In this step, random samples are drawn and schedules of quality assurance inspections made. Contractor discrepancies are documented and corrective action taken. If appropriate, money is deducted from a contractor’s payment by the contracting officer...

But what if your contract terms and conditions already included the "contract quality requirements"?

I would argue that only B in this list appears to fit within "contract quality requirements." The other items identify the procedures to which the agency will use to evaluate the Contractor's performance. B should always correlate to the Acceptable Quality Levels (AQLs) stipulated in the contract. If B is already in the contract, then B in the QASP is redundant. If it is redundant, then why incorporate it in the contract again? Further, I would not recommend including the QASP into the contract. My fear would be that including the QASP in the contract would bind the agency to a particular method of surveillance, and the only method to change that method would be through a modification.

However, if the contract does not specify any AQLs, and only the QASP identifies those performance metrics, then the QASP should be part of the contract. Unfortunately, I have seen many instances of this. Also, the discrepancy between "Quality Assurance Plan" and QASP has led to conflicts of interests. There have been agencies that ask the Contractor to develop the Quality Assurance Plan, but treat that plan as the QASP and incorporate that document in the contract. In this case, the Contractor developed performance metrics which the agency would use to measure performance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vern Edwards

If some terms are in one part of a contract, then there is no reason to include the same terms in another part of a contract. But why would you put something in a contract, and then repeat it in another document? What would be the point?

Unless I missed it, we still don't know what is in the document govt2310 has called a QASP. Until we do, we cannot answer his question. However, if his QASP contains the info that OFPP Pamphlet No. 4 says should be in a QASP, then the QASP should be in the contract.

I'm loving this thread, because it demonstrates just how uncoordinated and STUPID performance-based contracting is.

QASP, QASP, we have to have a QASP, if only we knew what it was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It doesn't matter what is in my particular QASP. As I explained in #22, I believe I understand now what Vern considers as the type of information that is usually found in a QASP that must go into the solicitation and contract, versus the type of information that is usually found in a QASP that DOES NOT go into the solicitation and contract. Thanks everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...