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There has been some lamenting about bad writing recently on these message boards recently.  I propose a small contest to re-write this sentence for clarity:
 

Quote

"Under no circumstances shall the Contractor consume alcohol, gamble or fraternize with Agency employees while on site."

 

I nominate Jamaal Valentine as Judge since he brought up the subject recently.  I'll abstain. Winner lives in eternal glory.  Loser wallows in eternal shame.  Only the first seven attempts will be accepted.

EDIT: Only one entry per person.

Hope this is fun!

 

Edited by apsofacto
Clarify number of attempts per person.
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There has been some lamenting about bad writing recently on these message boards recently.

Should be rewritten for clarity as "Recent postings on this forum have advanced the notion that writing quality can and should be improved."

^_^

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Guest Vern Edwards

Recent postings on this forum have advanced the notion that writing quality can and should be improved.

Should be rewritten for brevity and directness as follows:

Some posters have said that some posts are badly written and should be better.

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Guest PepeTheFrog

"Recent posts complained of poor writing skills."

"The Contractor shall not consume alcohol, or gamble, while on-site."

Let the booze flow and the dice roll everywhere else! "The Contractor" should be defined in a glossary or definitions section. Whatever troublesome behavior "fraternize" was meant to cover is likely already covered by existing procurement statutes, regulation, and policy. Anything else could be overreach, legally and practically. Legally, consult an attorney about the limits and risks of anti-fraternization policies. Practically, consider how to define and circumscribe "fraternization" without eroding the working relationships between contractor and Government personnel.

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Guest Vern Edwards

This is starting out worse than I thought it might.

"Contractor" is a legal entity. Contractors don't consume alcohol or gamble (in the ordinary sense of that term) or fraternize, but contractor employees might do so.

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Guest PepeTheFrog

I suggested defining "contractor." My Government contracting contacts say they're trained on the mantra, "The contractor shall." As Vern Edwards notes, "contractor" is a legal entity. As Vern Edwards explains in this thread:

...sometimes the "contractor" is merely an individual or sole proprietor who has not incorporated into a more complicated legal entity, e.g. corporation. In such cases, using "The contractor shall" works fine. But when the "contractor" consists of multiple employees, define the word carefully to account for different usages.

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What does "fraternize" mean?

If fraternization is prohibited on-site, it is okay off-site? Can I fraternize with an Agency employee at my apartment during the lunch hour?

Does the prohibition apply only to Agency employees, or to anybody? For example, if I am a contractor and I fraternize with my significant other (who is not an Agency employee) in the janitorial closet on Agency premises, is that okay?

Just wondering.

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Guest Vern Edwards

The Contractor shall ensure that its employees and the employees of subcontractors at any tier do not consume alcoholic beverages, gamble, or socialize with Government personnel at the work site.

That is designed to clarify the policy quoted in the OP, not revise the policy. Since the policy quoted in the OP was silent about those activities at other places. I said nothing about them. Since the policy quoted in the OP was silent about activities between significant others who are not government personnel, I said nothing about them. The quoted policy was also silent about drugs. Socialize means "mix socially with others."

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If you are specifically referring to contract requirements, how about: "Do not consume alcoholic beverages, gamble, or socialize with Government personnel at the work site."

the contract should describe the contractor's responsibilities for performance. There should be no need to keep identifying  "the contractor", its employees or subcontracted employees as the actor(s), unless it is to distinguish from government or third party responsibilities that are also stated. 

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I'm counting three attempts at restating "Under no circumstances shall the Contractor consume alcohol, gamble or fraternize with Agency employees while on site." Unfortunately, Bob withdrew his submission - I'll check my car's lug nuts, before heading to lunch, as a cautionary measure.

"The Contractor shall not consume alcohol, gamble, or fraternize at the Agency." - Whynot

"The Contractor shall ensure that its employees and the employees of subcontractors at any tier do not consume alcoholic beverages, gamble, or socialize with Government personnel at the work site." - Vern

'"Do not consume alcoholic beverages, gamble, or socialize with Government personnel at the work site."'  - Joel

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So "fraternize" has become "socialize"? Huh.

Try enforcing that prohibition.

"Your employee was socializing with our Agency employee while on our premises!"

=====

"No he didn't. That was an official exchange of information directly relevant to the job at hand. Prove otherwise or withdraw your baseless allegation."

=====

"Well, yes. But that's because she was invited to the birthday party by your Agency employees. You induced her to violate the contract. See you in court."

=====

"No he didn't. He attended a Monday morning staff meeting at which he was asked about his weekend. Fearing that silence would be construed adversely, he responded to the official inquiry."

=====

"If you characterize attending the official retirement party as 'socializing' then we admit it happened. But our employee paid for his own food and beverages (for which we have not billed the Agency), and the employee charged his time to indirect "marketing" and not to the contract. Please explain how the Agency suffered any damage. And by the way, our employee was representing our company in an official capacity and made a speech, for which he received an ovation. Are you sure you want to make a big deal about this?"

=====

I could go on. This is fun.

H2H

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Guest Vern Edwards

H2H:

The contest does not ask us to address whether the contract term is a good one or is enforceable. The contest asks us how to state the term clearly. So how would you state it? Also, fraternize and socialize mean different things. Look them up. Although the statement in the original post says fraternize, i think socialize is more appropriate.

What word(s) would you use? Don't snipe. Get into the firing line.

Joel:

The contractor is a business entity, even if a sole proprietor, and business entities, as such, don't drink, gamble, or socialize. The contractor's employees would, but the government does not have a contract with them. The contractor's responsibility is to see to it that the people that it employs to do the work do not do certain things. So to whom is "Do not consume alcoholic beverages, gamble, or socialize with Government personnel at the work site" addressed? And there is a difference between the employees of the contractor and the employees of the contractor's subcontractors. 

 

Edited by Vern Edwards
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This requirement,"is addressed to" and is applicable to all the human employees of the prime contractor and any subcontractors who manage and perform the contracted services at the work site. It is up to the entitiy's management to implement the requirement. 

A business entity can't read the contract requirements.  It should be obvious, when put into context with other contract requirements, who the  requirement is applicable to without having to repeat "the contractor shall", "the contractor shall not", "the contractor and/or its subcontractor(s)", "...employees", etc. for each and every contract requirement. It drives me nuts when every sentence or paragraph begins with those words.

Since many spec writers often use the passive voice, one is apt to find them buried somewhere in the sentence. That's even more aggravating to me.  

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Guest Vern Edwards

Joel:

What are you talking about -- "every sentence"? I wrote only one sentence. Do you think it's in the statement of work? Is that what's bothering you? The repetitive "contractor shall" business?

Well, even in a statement of work "The contractor shall" must appear at least once, maybe at the beginning of the tasks section. Standing alone, the contest sentence must include "The contractor shall" in order to be clear as to whom it applies. Your sentence would apply equally to the Government, but the original sentence did not apply to the Government, and it might not be obvious in context that your sentence applies only to the contractor. The contest is to revise a particular contract sentence for clarity. We were given no context. If you don't think the contest rules are clear, complain to apsofacto.

You're right that business entities don't read. Their representatives read, and the contract must state the respective rights and obligations of the parties. Does the sentence address their employer, the Government, both, or someone else? Well, the original sentence was addressed to their employer. So is mine. Yours is addressed both, even if that was not your intent You didn't clarify the original sentence.

And no one has used the passive voice, so why bring that up? Did I miss an entry that says "boozing, gambling, and socializing shall not be done"?

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I wasn't referring to you, Vern or to your entry  I did borrow much of your improvements to the original statement  

Of course, if this is the only requirement or is the first stated requirement, it should identify the subject. 

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Guest Vern Edwards

Thanks for clarifying.

You wrote:

Quote

This requirement,"is addressed to" and is applicable to all the human employees of the prime contractor and any subcontractors who manage and perform the contracted services at the work site. It is up to the entitiy's management to implement the requirement. 

I disagree. Contract terms should not address contractor employees. The Government has no contract with them. Contract terms should address the entities that are parties to the contract and that have rights and obligations thereunder. And only humans can be employees, so "human employee" is redundant.

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I forgot to say that my first post described the context of my entry and why I wrote it that way. 

 I edited an entire Model RFP that the USACE then used for billions of dollars of design-build projects for the Army's MILCON Transformation Program. I converted passive sentences to the active voice and removed redundant references to "the contractor",  "by the contractor", "the contractor shall", etc. This shortened the document by at least 20 pages. I don't know the total page reduction because I did it over a period of a year, along with the other edits,  as the requirements evolved during that year.  But I noted that individual sections would be at least one to two pages shorter. 

 

 

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Guest Vern Edwards

You're a hero, Joel.

Okay, if you want to focus on S.O.W.s, here is how to avoid repeating "The Contractor shall", using the MIL-HDBK-245D format:

3.0 Requirements. The Contractor shall perform the following tasks (or, shall do the following work):

  3.1 Verb-noun. (General form: Do this to this, e.g., Test the system.)

  3.2 Verb-noun.

  3.3 Verb-noun.

  • Write in the active voice.
  • Be wary of adjectives and adverbs. Quantify when possible. Define carefully when not.
  • Always use transitive verbs (verbs that take an object).
  • Use only one verb per task statement. No doubling up (Operate and maintain...) or stream of consciousness (Design, develop, test, evaluate, demonstrate...).
  • Don't include dissimilar objects in the same task sentence. (Don't write things like: Clean floors and windows.)

Now let's let others submit entries to apsofacto's contest.

 

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In the performance of this contract the following are prohibited from taking place on the government work site and/or government owned property:

  • Consumption of alcoholic liquor;

  • Games of chance in any form, and/or;

  • Socialize or form a friendship with any personnel of the contracting Agency.

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Oh Vern, sometimes you can be such a curmudgeon ...

 

Original: "Under no circumstances shall the Contractor consume alcohol, gamble or fraternize with Agency employees while on site."

My suggestion: "While on Agency premises, contractor employees will comply with Agency personnel conduct standards as described in the __ Policy. Such standards include prohibitions on alcohol consumption, gambling, and fraternization (as that term is defined by the Policy)."

H2H

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Guest Vern Edwards

H2H:

You're right. I'll buy the drinks next week, and you'll feel better.

The contest is to clarify a single sentence. I don't think your entry clarifies, since it refers to a set of unspecified standards of conduct, which might be much broader than don't drink, don't run crap games in the head, and don't chase anyone of any sex while on the premises. And what about subs?

I think you're still bothered by the fact that the policy seems stupid.

 

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