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Guest Vern Edwards

How can we speed up the source selection process?

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1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

Use artificial intelligence. Nothing says that the source selection authority must be human. 

I'm serious.

I love it...but, maybe Watson should finish with the FAR first.  How is that going for the Air Force?

For background, see the earlier discussion:

 

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Require auditors to have more procurement knowledge?  Not sure how widespread this problem is, but I have seen strange audit findings in the past that have led to defensive and time-consuming countermeasures from my procurement group.  Failing that, perhaps adopting a system of appeal?

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Reinforce the responsibilities and authorities inherent to each Acquisition Team role. By each role-holder staying in his or her lane, the idea is to increase specialization and reduce dependency on other roles that may not be best-suited to perform certain duties (e.g., requirements community on the CO, the CO on OGC). Increased specialization would bring increased efficiency.

Ancillary idea: Dispel the significance of "customer service" in Federal acquisition, which has gotten to the point of performing the duties of others without second thought. Individual acts of "customer service," though they may create short-term efficiencies and inter-office harmony, can result in enduring dependencies that cause long-term damage.

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For any reviews and/or clearances, assign any necessary member(s) from the clearance/review official's staff(s) to the source selection team from the beginning to provide concurrent advice and guidance.  Completion of a review or receipt of business/contract clearance would, ideally, become a one day event where the clearance/review official receives a short, joint memo or brief from the assigned staff member(s) and the Contracting Officer that states the acquisition is good to go or details any remaining areas of disagreement for the official to adjudicate.  The intent is to avoid the weeks or months long process of trading paperwork between the field and the staff.

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On 2/23/2018 at 2:39 AM, Don Mansfield said:

1. Rescind DoD Mandatory Source Selection procedures.

2. When evaluating offeror capability, limit information to what can be verified (i.e., factual information). No essay-writing contests that require an offeror to explain how they intend to accomplish each task in the SOW. No technical/management proposals. No creative writing. No opportunities for salesmanship.

3. Increase use of the advisory multi-step process. Make it mandatory if you expect more than five proposals.

4. Take bid protest authority away from the GAO. Offerors can protest to the agency or the COFC. Decisions from either can be appealed to the CAFC.

How a about a test involving number four above, but instead of making it apply to all RFPs, do so only for those issued in odd numbered months of the year and make the test procedure more of a stark difference, say limit protest venue to COFC only?  We would learn more that way, have a traditional path as a backup, if needed, and be able to judge the effectiveness of this significant change. 

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Guest Vern Edwards
On 2/23/2018 at 12:39 AM, Don Mansfield said:

Take bid protest authority away from the GAO. Offerors can protest to the agency or the COFC. Decisions from either can be appealed to the CAFC.

Remember the ground rule: No rule changes.

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Have the SSEB be a dedicated team that, once offers are received, have no duties other than to evaluate the proposals.  With this age of "category management", we should (especially for large programs) be able to develop technical expertise in evaluating offers. By having a dedicated team, the time it takes for the evaluation process could be reduced by months.  Too often the SSEB gets together for 1 week a month, if that. Each time they get together they have to refresh what they discussed previously (wasted time) and then start the review on a single proposal. 

The same is true for the Contracting Officer.  If they have a large, important project, allow that to be their only project.

Of course this is a pipe dream in this era of reduced staffing and more additional duties assigned, but I do believe the evaluation process is the single most time-intensive part of the process... and the part that can be reduced the easiest. 

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don't be afraid to ignore (just write "noted" or the equivalent) requested changes and revisions from legal or policy oversight in the review chain

enforce a strict culture of keeping things as simple and concise as possible, including evaluation factors and page lengths for all documents of every type

praise and reward simplicity and brevity, punish and ridicule the opposite 

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Reduce the amount of reviews required for each document. When I was working on the Government side the larger programs would go through 2-5 layers of reviews before final approval for each stage.

Also bring back the “murder boards” let everyone review at once have one meeting and hash it out. Too many time as the document goes through its reviews each person puts their own bias and opinion causing multiple revisions and rewrites.

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Restrict CO ability to obtain field pricing assistance by requiring the CO to justify why they cannot determine price reasonableness without such assistance. Ensure field pricing assistance, when requested, is limited only to those aspects the CO has justified. Require field pricing assistance input to be received within 30 days from date of request and hold functional support areas accountable for meeting that deadline.

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Centralize contracting officer authority at the last review level or as close to it as practical.

Alternatively, the clearance approval authority (or his/her delagte no lower than one level below) can serve as the PCO and individuals within the originating office can serve as ACOs with certain delegated authorities.

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Promote specialization by narrowing the CO scope of authority. Begin by eliminating the "cradle to grave" approach. Warrants would specify whether the individual is a PCO or ACO, and enumerate the high-level duties associated with that role. 

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2 hours ago, FrankJon said:

Promote specialization by narrowing the CO scope of authority. Begin by eliminating the "cradle to grave" approach. Warrants would specify whether the individual is a PCO or ACO, and enumerate the high-level duties associated with that role. 

To this point, please show me in the FAR where the duties of the PCO are distinguished from the duties of the ACO, and where the duties of the ACO are distinguished from the duties of the DACO/CACO. For that matter, where are the duties of the CFAO listed?

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15 minutes ago, here_2_help said:

To this point, please show me in the FAR where the duties of the PCO are distinguished from the duties of the ACO, and where the duties of the ACO are distinguished from the duties of the DACO/CACO. For that matter, where are the duties of the CFAO listed?

H2H - You're missing my point. I do not suggest that the duties are distinguished anywhere. 

My point is that there is an opportunity for agencies to change the prevalent - and I say ineffective - "cradle to grave" practice through policy change. An obvious way to implement this is via the CO's warrant. The duties can be whatever OFPP/DPAP/HA/SPE/HCA (or whoever is delegated ultimate authority to decide) decides. COs would be able to change between ACO and PCO as agencies permit, but they would not be able to serve as both simultaneously.

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15 minutes ago, FrankJon said:

H2H - You're missing my point. I do not suggest that the duties are distinguished anywhere. 

Perhaps I missed your point, or perhaps I built on it for my own purposes. Who can say?

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20 minutes ago, FrankJon said:

My point is that there is an opportunity for agencies to change the prevalent - and I say ineffective - "cradle to grave" practice through policy change.

@FrankJon  what's wrong with the "cradle to grave" practice?

 

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Guest Vern Edwards

It appears that we are out of ideas. I thank everyone who has responded.

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Use smaller procurements, with clear and objective evaluation criteria, so that evaluation becomes a simple check the box exercise.

Use output based purchasing (buy the results of services (deliverables, some other measure of output)) instead of services by the hour.).

Let us simply buy from whomever we want instead of going through elaborate fake competition drills that take up so much time and that we rig anyway.

 

 

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