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Maureen

Doing Market Research for Risk Assessment Training

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I am in the process of putting together our FY17 training wish list. I very much want risk assessment training brought to our organization.  Requirements would be generally as follows:

1.  Classroom setting, size approximately 25.

2.  Discussion covering what risk assessment is, how to conduct it, how it relates to the PWS, PRS, evaluation factors, pricing, etc.

3.  Hands on working through several examples.  This is a tough concept.  I'd like to work through easy example at first, then build to more complex work. This will be for an DoD installation level contracting office, NOT systems acquisition.

I am looking for sources of such training that you highly recommend, that was successfully performed for your organization. Your help in this market research is most appreciated.

Thank you!

 

 

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Nobody I know teaches that stuff. The closest I can think of is a NCMA National Educational Seminar from several years ago that addressed "risk management of complex government projects" -- but that's not what you are looking for. You are looking for a course that teaches government folks how to evaluate performance risk when looking at bids. If you want that course I'm fairly sure (but not positive, of course) that it would have to be developed to meet your needs. Why not reach out to Fed Pubs or Public Contracting Institute and see what they'd charge to develop that course?

H2H

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I am getting that sense, that there is no already developed course for this.  I appreciate the suggestions for Fed Pubs or Public Contracting Institute. Probably won't make our FY17 wish list, but it is something to check out. Thanks!

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Guest Vern Edwards

Maureen:

Risk assessment in what field? General systems engineering? General project management? Software development? Major system development? Construction?

What kind of stuff will your students be buying?

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Services acquisitions for a military installation, anything from solid waste management to transportation motor pool to operational testing (a mission we have here). Majority of our work is commercial FFP, but we do have cost reimbursement contracts as well.  Much are done on IDIQ contracts.  I admit to not having the best understanding of this concept.  In our acquisition strategies, we are required to address AFARS 5137.590-6(a)(2):  "Provide an assessment of current and potential technical, cost, schedule and performance risks, the level of stated risks, and a risk mitigation plan."   Our template type documents further provides guidance such as for cost risk we are to address current and potential cost risks such as the competitive environment, resource constraints, funding shortfalls (personally, I think that focuses too much on the acquisition process and not enough of any cost risk that could occur during performance).  DoD does have a Risk Management Guide for Defense Acquisition Programs (December 2014), which I will read all 100 pages at some point (I hope). Sometimes much of the "official" guidance that is available focuses on systems acquisitions and leaves us poor red-headed step children at installation contracting offices with no practical format or guidance to follow.  We did have some HQ training on this concept a year or so ago, but it was a one day and not as in-depth as I would think is necessary to ensure a solid understanding.

From what I understand, conducting this risk assessment/management review is critical to developing a quality PWS, not to mention PRS and the evaluation factors in our solicitations.  As it seems that risk management is the foundation for so much of what we do, we need to better understanding what it is and how to do it.

 

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Guest Vern Edwards

Okay, it sounds to me as if you need a general introduction to the concepts of contracting uncertainty and risk and to the techniques of contracting risk analysis and risk assessment. You'll need additional material about how to apply those concepts and techniques to the specific kinds of problems associated with the acquisitions that you described.

Risk assessment courses are usually associated with standard problems, such as major system development, construction project management, cyber security, executive kidnapping or terrorism, workplace health and safety, disasters, business mergers and acquisitions, lending, etc. Specific content will have to depend in large measure on the knowledge and sophistication of your students. For instance, are they familiar with very elementary probability and statistics or have they had college level courses in those topics? Are they expert in the kinds of acquisitions that they will be involved in or are they newbies. Course content depends in large measure on the kinds of acquisitions. The uncertainties and risks in motor pool management are very, very different than the uncertainties and risks in solid waste management. The more diverse the student body that you want to serve and the more various the types of acquisition that they conduct, the more watered down and unsatisfactory a short (2-4 days) course will be.

Be wary of government contracting training companies that will want to send a lawyer to teach an off-the-shelf class. Let me suggest that you contact the Defense Acquisition University and see if they will create a custom course for you. I know that they do such work, and since your office is within DOD they would be a good source. Otherwise, a commercial training company might do a good job, but most won't have an off-the-shelf offering that will address your specific needs. How well any company will develop a special offering or customize a standard course is a matter for investigation. In my opinion, you're not likely to get anything good if all you want is a single session.

And Maureen, you're not going to get a "solid" understanding out of a short course. At best, you're only going to get an introduction.

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Understood.  DAU actually already has an online course for risk management, CLM017.  Just for me, online has nothing on face to face.  So I will suggest our HQ think about a custom DAU course.  And I understand what you are saying in regards to a short course not providing that solid understanding I so desperately want. We are just so short staffed and overwhelmed with work - I was hoping for something to kick start us into getting some sort of foundation.  As the lead PA and trainer, this is something I am going to have to devote time to learning and teaching - on a continuous basis, of course. Thank you for your recommendations.

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Guest Vern Edwards

You might consider getting DAU to help you develop a small (5-8 persons) group study program instead of a short course. It would be based on independent reading and case analyses and a weekly one- to three-hour group discussion, led by someone with some knowledge in the subject but who is not necessarily an expert. I participated in such a program when I worked for the Air Force. It can be a wonderful way to learn and it would be cheeper and, in my opinion, ultimately more effective than a short course. You could run several such discussion groups separately, but simultaneously, and even conduct case-study competitions among them.

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