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lotus

Why is the Govt so cliquish?

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I've often wondered why the Govt is so cliquish when it procures services.  It's requirements are of the nature of who you are rather than what you do.

To stretch the point, does it matter if your service provider is Joe Felon, with lengthy list of felonies, or Joe Upstanding Citizen, who has no such record?  If Joe Felon is better at what is to be done, then he should be chosen.

The Govt buyers use security clearances, and past performance within the agency and within the Government, as screening criteria to choose the persons they want to buy from.

I once sat through a debriefing from the FBI and it was clear that they wanted someone who already worked at the FBI.  If they had quotes from the incumbent janitorial firm to do plumbing, and competing quotes from master plumbers without FBI connections, they'd have gone with the janitorial firm.

A BD rep reporting on his meeting with State Dept people ahead of the release of a big services RFP reported that the highest ranking State Dept person said, "We want us."  Clearly he was judging based on retaining the incumbent staff more than whether or not the work would get done or a better solution proposed.

Since I don't buy based on these kinds of criteria, it strikes me a bad thing that the Govt does.  Why does the Govt act in this manner?

 

 

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I think you're asking why the Government sometimes prefers candidates with direct experience working at the requiring organization. It's because experience and first-hand knowledge of that experience are perceived to reduce future performance risk. Also, in non-FAR terms, I'm sure it's a lot about personalities. If you personally like working with someone, then you'll be reluctant to see that person go and replaced with a stranger. The FAR is an ideal that often clashes with the realities of human nature.

3 hours ago, lotus said:

past performance within the agency and within the Government

Careful. You're conflating experience with past performance. In contracting-speak, these are two different concepts.

3 hours ago, lotus said:

If Joe Felon is better at what is to be done, then he should be chosen.

So how would you ascertain that Mr. Felon is better or worse than the competition before contracting with him? 

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22 hours ago, lotus said:

I've often wondered why the Govt is so cliquish when it procures services.  It's requirements are of the nature of who you are rather than what you do... If Joe Felon is better at what is to be done, then he should be chosen.

I think your premise, that the government is "cliquish",  is unproven. What you can do and how well you can do it is part of who you are, as is what you have done in the past.

I'm in business, and I regularly do business with people based on who they are. And I always prefer doing business with people with whom I've done business in the past, who have done a good job, and whom I know that I can count on in the future. I know they are someone who can do the job. People with credentials (or a good sales pitch), but with whom I've had no experience, are just that, and a higher risk. Once I find a good vendor, I stick with them. Does it sometimes cost me more? You bet, and it's worth it, as you know if you've ever had a critical vendor fail you.

Who they are is what they have done and can do.

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On 12/13/2017 at 2:20 PM, Junius said:

What criteria do you use to buy services?  Are you in the habit of hiring felons without experience relevant to the service you require?

 

On 12/13/2017 at 2:20 PM, Junius said:

 

 

    I choose a supplier service provider based on two criteria.  Can they (i.e. the company) do the work and price.  For example, when I did a bathrooms remodel I visited area showrooms and offices to see what they offered.  Ability to perform was not so much an issue as understood.  All were established in the local market.

     Ultimately I picked the major items and negotiated a price and timeline.  I was indifferent as to whether their employees were felons, or Martians, or whatever, or how many or how few of them there were.

      Unlike an RFP on my plate now.  The Govt said they were looking for at least 29 FTE's.  Guess how many people (FTE's) are on the incumbent staff.

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10 hours ago, lotus said:

All were established in the local market.

I hope you reviewed past performance in addition to technical specs and price. If not, I think that was a mistake, regardless of whether everything turned out fine in the end. 

10 hours ago, lotus said:

Unlike an RFP on my plate now.

What is the work? That is key. I imagine it's not a bathroom remodel. 

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I don't think it's the cliquish issue.  It's more a matter of how the statement of work being defined and if there are "restrictive" requirements that are being allowed to remain in the statement of work.  Stating "at least 29 FTE" could be program's way of saying that this is amount needed to perform the work; however, is the work described with such sufficiency that the offerors could come to their own conclusions as to the number of FTEs?  As far as felons go, that could impact obtaining a clearance to work on the Government site.  The determination of appropriate security clearances are not set buy the buyers; they are set by the program in conjunction with the security office.  In some cases, elimination of a vendor on the basis of past performance may require coordination with the SBA (see FAR 19.6).

I have seen program try to place a "radius proximity" requirement in order to get to who they want.  However, once they have been questioned on the requirement (why so far, why not apply a period of time to reach them or the vendor to reach the Government, and then explain why it is so time sensitive) they will usually make the requirement more competitive.

As a CO/CS we need to support the program, but we also need to follow the guidelines with which we are faced.  It's okay to question the requirements as long as one has a valid reason for doing so, and, hopefully, a useful suggestion for something different.

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, styrene said:

 ... As far as felons go, that could impact obtaining a clearance to work on the Government site.  The determination of appropriate security clearances are not set buy the buyers; they are set by the program in conjunction with the security office. ...

    The program is part of the Govt.  Requiring security clearances is just a way of being cliquish.

 

 

 

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On 12/16/2017 at 10:40 AM, bob7947 said:

This is one of the most frequently used bits of the Protests Page.

FAR 11.002 (a) (1): Requirements - Restrictive provisions

    Thanks.  I just read the first case summary.  I find the the administrative judge's decision to be irrational.  What difference would it make if the PM got his knowledge, skills, and abilities in 5 years instead of ten, or gained in critical thinking skills via a path which included a degree or via another path?

    And, although the judge didn't spell out in his opinion exactly what the end product was to be (something to do with clean water or systems for making water clean), does it really matter if the PM has any qualifications, so long as the end product meets the Govt's needs (or is as specified in case the specifications don't align with needs).

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