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woops85

Govt Developed Course - Can it become COTS?

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My Department allows the use of an SF-182 as an obligating instrument by non-warranted personnel if (1) it's below the SAT, (2) cost is of a fixed nature (price per student, per course or per program) AND (3) program, course or instructional service is off-the-shelf and no modification or development resulting in increased cost is needed to meet the need.

We've got an in-house developed supervisory course that presented by an instructor certified to deliver the results of the assessment the student take (MBTI, 360's, that sort of thing). Originally was supposed to be all Government folks presenting the class with the occasional contractor brought in in case of conflicts. Based on staffing changes, it's now rare to have a Government person teach the class. At one point, senior management was comfortable that the hiring of a facilitator/coach to present this curriculum was an instructional service and met the requirements for using a SF-182. New senior management came in and said nope - doesn't meet the three tests. The Department has a BPA for coaches so we started using that. Only issue we have had with this approach was that program folks arranging the courses have been waiting too long to submit purchase requests so everything gets rushed. No ratifications yet but only because of acquisition folks jumping through hoops.

Now program people are trying to claim that the government development course is "COTS" and they can hire any company they want to using a SF-182 to present the curriculum. Reality is they want to sole source to an instructor who is not part of the coaching BPA.

Since they don't understand acquisition enough to make an argument that makes sense to us, can anyone here explain to us why the program folks might be right?

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Thanks Old-Dog. Using the definitions on the Cendi page, it's definitely a Government Work, created by Government employees as part of their official duties.

But Cendi doesn't help with the question of "Can the Government provide the course materials to any vendor and allow that vendor to add the course to their commercial catalog?" Because in order to use an SF-182 to order the course from a vendor IAW our Departmental Policy, the program folks would need to show their market research and get vendor quotes/catalogs showing this as one of their products.

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Is it normal for agencies to permit non-warranted people to make awards above the micro-purchase threshold (with the exception of designated ordering officers who place orders off of established contracts)?

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Woops85 - So just some various thoughts roaming around in my head....

It seems the whole issue revolves around your agency's determination of proper use of the SF-182. While OPM holds to the fact that the SF-182 is not a procurement document they also acknowledge that agencies can determine policy to make it such. So maybe another question to help in getting some advice on whether program folks are right or, per say, wrong and based on this statement in your original post "New senior management came in and said nope - doesn't meet the three tests." what are the tests that make use of the SF-182 okay?

Or maybe approach it like this. Why are you trying to answer to the program folks? Maybe you should be referring them to "senior management" and let senior management tell them whether they can or cannot use the SF-182 as it seems they are the controllers in this case.

COTS - Presenting a training course is a commercial item but not COTS. COTS by definition has to be an 'item of supply". Supply by FAR definition is property. Getting just a manual for an instructor to use would be COTS, getting the instructor to present a manual is a service and is not COTS.

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Thanks all! I will use this to help the program folks craft an argument for senior management that is better than their current "we were always able to before". But to answer your questions.

C Culham - 3 tests are in first paragraph of original post. My shop does the money and we have to add line of accounting to the 182s. Every time I refuse to do so and tell them they must do a PR, we're getting a little tempest in a teacup. And it's easier to rail at me than do what I tell them - take it up with the boss if they don't like my answer. Just getting a little tired of the repeated monthly drama. Previous management allowed based on their definition of the facilitated delivery as an "instructional service".

Desparado - Several agencies actually do allow use of 182 but only up to 25K. Asked the question in a multi-agency working group I'm in but didn't ask about the non-warranted part. Scary part about our policy is that there is no training requirement outlined in the policy before someone can obligate using a 182. Not even purchase card training or anything about doing market research. And yes, I've raised it with the policy folks that they have left a big door open to trouble.

Don - This course is very specific to my agency - includes a lot of agency policy and we actually have an HR person for one 2-3 hour period to respond to questions that come up the first 3 days. It's a very interactive course. There's a bundle of online courses that are taken before - many from OPM's HRU website on the basics of stuff (Merit Systems Principles, etc) as well as a couple assessments (MBTI, DISC, etc). Many vendors do have supervisory courses that are equivalent to the about 24 hours of the material and there's no issue if they order those courses using the 182. Heck could even do one of those courses and then tack on an extra day to have an agency instructor and HR person team up to do the other material with no issue.

Vern - not classified or FOUO. But to be presented to other agencies, about 6 hours of classroom time would need to be changed to be pertinent to those other agencies. That's why I don't think the course manual is COTS. I can actually see the argument for the facilitated delivery as an instructional service of a GOTS product that would meet the agency 182 use rules.

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woops - Thanks for the information.

Your program folks "might" be right because there is such a thing as instructional services that are used to help folks to obtain the skills to do something. Example - this discussion of instructional services to help folks learn how to use a library - http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncp/f/What%20Is%20Instructional%20Services.pdf Yet your program folks will never be right because your management likes changing the rules of the game.

It is what it is and you will just have to continue to deal with it!

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