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1 hour ago, lotus said:

How will you measure technical excellence. 

I believe you need a standard (between 12 and 14 inches) and a measure (inches), and a way to implement that measure (with a ruler).

For courier services you might can create a standard (likely time based).  Be careful that it is appropriate though, and think of how it can be gamed.

And think of how you will measure results against the standard.

It's simple. The problem is that requiring offices like to use too many metrics and metrics that are unmeasurable in practice. 

Go back to basics. What factors are most important to achieving ideal performance? What amount of variance can you tolerate? What's a plausible way to measure success (hint: probably not by using percentages)?

Off the top of my head, for courier services, I want pick-up to be regular and timely, and I want delivery to be prompt and accurate. Those might be my primary metric areas. 

So for regular and timely pick-up, you might state something like: "No more than one missed pick-up window per week." This is just an example. Ultimately, it depends on the circumstances of the specific situation. But the metrics do not need to be numerous and measurement does not need to be complex for most service contracts.

 

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1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

True or False: For purposes of evaluating my performance under the contract, it really doesn't matter if I follow my staffing plan--what matters is that I comply with the contract terms.

True.

Follow up question, though. Why can't a staffing plan, which could be part of a quality control plan, be incorporated into the contract?

My argument is that the technical information lets me know who is likely to both understand and perform the contract. 

Maybe I'm misinterpreting what folks in here are saying, but why wouldn't something in a quote/proposal be binding? Barring some wordsmithing (i.e, "we'll try to refill a position" or "our goal is to fill a position") why wouldn't those terms be binding? 

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12 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

Follow up question, though. Why can't a staffing plan, which could be part of a quality control plan, be incorporated into the contract?

It could, but that would be the antithesis of performance-based acquisition, which is defined as:

Quote

“Performance-based acquisition (PBA)” means an acquisition structured around the results to be achieved as opposed to the manner by which the work is to be performed.

If I'm concerned about outcomes as opposed to manner of performance, what would be the point of making the staffing plan binding?

Also, it may not be consistent with customary commercial practice to make a "plan" binding.

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48 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

Why can't a staffing plan, which could be part of a quality control plan, be incorporated into the contract?

Wait a minute. Conceptually, a plan is a guide to future action. It is a statement of intentions. But departures from plans are expected. How does that fit in with the concept of contract as promise. Intentions are not promises.

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21 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

Joel,

The provision found at "52.212-2 Evaluation - Commercial Items" send the CO to FAR 15.304(e)(1) through (3) to fill this line in the provision.

Only three statements are allowed and are as follows:

"(e) The solicitation shall also state, at a minimum, whether all evaluation factors other than cost or price, when combined, are --

           (1) Significantly more important than cost or price;            (Trade-Off Process)

           (2) Approximately equal to cost or price; or                        (LPTA)

           (3) Significantly less important than cost or price (10 U.S.C. 2305(a)(3)(A)(iii) and 41 U.S.C. 3306(c)(1)(C))."       (Low Price)

 

I have always consider the use of these three best for the underlined area. Am I incorrect to assume this usage?

Yes, you are incorrect.  

See 15.101-1 Trade-off process, paragraph (b) and subparagraphs thereunder. This process uses both technical and price comparisons between proposals to select the awardee(s). This is where the relative importance of price and quality are applicable. Thus, all three of the statements that you referenced apply to the trade-off process. The winner of the trade-off decision could fit under any of three scenarios you described. 

Quote

 

15.101-1   Tradeoff process.

(a) A tradeoff process is appropriate when it may be in the best interest of the Government to consider award to other than the lowest priced offeror or other than the highest technically rated offeror.

(b) When using a tradeoff process, the following apply:

(1) All evaluation factors and significant subfactors that will affect contract award and their relative importance shall be clearly stated in the solicitation; and

(2) The solicitation shall state whether all evaluation factors other than cost or price, when combined, are significantly more important than, approximately equal to, or significantly less important than cost or price.

(c) This process permits tradeoffs among cost or price and non-cost factors and allows the Government to accept other than the lowest priced proposal. The perceived benefits of the higher priced proposal shall merit the additional cost, and the rationale for tradeoffs must be documented in the file in accordance with 15.406.

 

 

See 15.101-2 Lowest price technically acceptable source selection process , paragraph (b) and subparagraphs thereunder.  This process doesn’t allow trade offs or comparisons of the non-cost or non-price factors between proposers. Award is simply made upon the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors.

You aren’t allowed to pick a higher priced proposal that meets or exceeds the acceptability standards or that exceeds the capability or quality of the LPTA proposal. 

Quote

 

15.101-2   Lowest price technically acceptable source selection process.

(a) The lowest price technically acceptable source selection process is appropriate when best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.

(b) When using the lowest price technically acceptable process, the following apply:

(1) The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that establish the requirements of acceptability shall be set forth in the solicitation. Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors. If the contracting officer documents the file pursuant to 15.304(c)(3)(iii), past performance need not be an evaluation factor in lowest price technically acceptable source selections. If the contracting officer elects to consider past performance as an evaluation factor, it shall be evaluated in accordance with 15.305. However, the comparative assessment in 15.305(a)(2)(i) does not apply. If the contracting officer determines that a small business' past performance is not acceptable, the matter shall be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination, in accordance with the procedures contained in subpart 19.6 and 15 U.S.C. 637(b)(7)).

(2) Tradeoffs are not permitted.

(3) Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors.

(4) Exchanges may occur (see 15.306).

 

Constricting Officer, I hope that this clarifies to you that you dont use weighted comparisons between price and non-price for LPTA.

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15 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

Joel,

The provision found at "52.212-2 Evaluation - Commercial Items" send the CO to FAR 15.304(e)(1) through (3) to fill this line in the provision.

Only three statements are allowed and are as follows:

"(e) The solicitation shall also state, at a minimum, whether all evaluation factors other than cost or price, when combined, are --

           (1) Significantly more important than cost or price;            (Trade-Off Process)

           (2) Approximately equal to cost or price; or                        (LPTA)

           (3) Significantly less important than cost or price (10 U.S.C. 2305(a)(3)(A)(iii) and 41 U.S.C. 3306(c)(1)(C))."       (Low Price)

 

I have always consider the use of these three best for the underlined area. Am I incorrect to assume this usage?

The Provision at 52.212-2 is not mandatory.  The KO “may use” it,  where appropriate.  See also the prescription for the Provision at 12.301 (c)  (“May” insert...).  It’s not necessary or appropriate for LPTA.

Once again -  FAR 15.101-2 tells you what to tell proposers to explain the basis of award when using the LPTA procedures.

[Edit:

I looked up the FAR version as of Jan 1, 1996, which was prior to the Sep 1997 - rewrite of Part 15 to incorporate FAC 97-02. The term “Best Value” wasn’t in FAR then but that term was being used outside of FAR to describe the trade-off process. Reference: Definition of "Best Value" in The Government Contracts Reference Book, 2nd Ed., by Nash, Schooner, and Obrien-Debakey, GW University, 1998)

The concept of awarding to the lowest priced proposal that meets the government’s minimum requirements  stated in the solicitation was only mentioned twice in subpart 15.6, “Source Selection” in the FAR as of 1 January 1996. 

FAR 15.602  (a)(1) stated that source selection may be based upon...

Quote

“...cost or price competition between proposals that meet the Government’s minimum requirements stated in the solicitation”. 

15.605 Evaluation factors and sub factors under 15.605(d)(2) , in part, said that

Quote

“The solicitation may state that award will be made to the offeror that meets the solicitations minimum criteria  for acceptable award at the lowest cost or price.”

The applicable wording concerning describing the relative importance of price and non-price factors that is now in 15.304 was similar in the old version.

The “LPTA” process was named, described and became part of the “best value continuum” in the Sep 1997 rewrite. Reference, Definition of "Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable" in The Government Contracts Reference Book, 2nd Ed. The distinction is described in 15.101. 

However,  the wording concerning describing the relative importance between price and non-price wasn’t also clarified in 15.304.  That language really refers to the three choices for stating the relative importance between price/cost and quality for the trade-off process. 

The current version of Part 15 at 15.101-2 specifically describes the LPTA as a procedure under the Best Value Continuum, and instructs the KO on what to include in the solicitation.  

 At any rate, Part 12 (prescribed in 12.301(c)) does not mandate use of the Provision at 52.212-2 nor does it limit you to the three choices, that only discuss relative importance for trade-off, in my opinion. ]

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17 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

The fact that the Government consistently requires submission of plans, etc., does not mean that doing so is consistent with customary commercial practice. What you want to find out during market research are the customary practices under which commercial sales of services are made. Do sellers customarily have to provide "QCP/Contract manager's resume/complete package submitted/technical approach to performance" to potential buyers in order to make a sale? Or is this just something that Government buyers ask for?

As a Government buyer, you have baggage. When you are buying a commercial item, you need to minimize your baggage as much as possible.

Emphasis Added

Don,

Makes perfect sense. Thank you

 

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12 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

At any rate, Part 12 (prescribed in 12.301(c)) does not mandate use of the Provision at 52.212-2 nor does it limit you to the three choices, that only discuss relative importance for trade-off, in my opinion. ]

Joel,

Thank you for your in-depth response and it has given me a deeper understanding of that language. Being part of an entity that does little in the "Trade-Off" area of acquisition, I have neglected looking into that deeper.

Question, the provision is not required (nor do I like how it is written), but where would you suggest placing evaluation language/criteria?

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18 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

Wait a minute. Conceptually, a plan is a guide to future action. It is a statement of intentions. But departures from plans are expected. How does that fit in with the concept of contract as promise. Intentions are not promises.

I think you've finally gotten through to me... I was going to say "what about quality assurance plans?" But then I saw FAR 12.208 -- Contracts for commercial items shall rely on contractors’ existing quality assurance systems as a substitute for Government inspection and testing before tender for acceptance unless customary market practices for the commercial item being acquired include in-process inspection.

The more I think of it, you're right -- price/past performance will tell you a lot more than some plan or approach.

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3 hours ago, ContractingCowboi said:

I think you've finally gotten through to me... I was going to say "what about quality assurance plans?" But then I saw FAR 12.208 -- Contracts for commercial items shall rely on contractors’ existing quality assurance systems as a substitute for Government inspection and testing before tender for acceptance unless customary market practices for the commercial item being acquired include in-process inspection.

The more I think of it, you're right -- price/past performance will tell you a lot more than some plan or approach.

Success!  Now spread the goodness to your colleagues :D

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5 hours ago, ContractingCowboi said:

I think you've finally gotten through to me... I was going to say "what about quality assurance plans?" But then I saw FAR 12.208 -- Contracts for commercial items shall rely on contractors’ existing quality assurance systems as a substitute for Government inspection and testing before tender for acceptance unless customary market practices for the commercial item being acquired include in-process inspection.

The more I think of it, you're right -- price/past performance will tell you a lot more than some plan or approach.

Don't think in terms of regulations! Think in terms of concepts and principles. FAR 12.208 has nothing to do with what I've been trying to tell you, and there is no logical connection between what it says and the conclusion that you reached. Close your damned FAR and THINK!

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19 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

Don't think in terms of regulations! Think in terms of concepts and principles. FAR 12.208 has nothing to do with what I've been trying to tell you, and there is no logical connection between what it says and the conclusion that you reached. Close your damned FAR and THINK!

That's extremely hard to do when you've got clearances, legal reviews, etc., where you've got to justify every decision you make. There's too many hands on too many acquisitions and in order to do things in a simplified manner, you've got to justify it somehow.

I mean, look how much push back I've given, and I'm a front-line CO. Briefing these thought processes to a 30-year branch chief, flight chief, or commander would be nearly a guaranteed stonewall. If I have a regulation to back me, they don't have much of a leg to stand on.

I used FAR 12.208 as an example because QCP's are another thing we typically evaluate. But it just enforces the argument that there's not much of a need to evaluate them.

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Stop and consider, does it matter to you if a person does this?  If somebody has 8 eyed 16 armed robot and can turn out the results, is that okay with you?

Do you really need a QCP/Contract manager's resume/.../technical approach?  

Remember, Input -> Process -> Output.  Specify the output that you want and the input that you will give to the contractor. He will figure out a process, and you pay him for the output.

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On 4/24/2018 at 8:24 AM, Constricting Officer said:

Joel,

Thank you for your in-depth response and it has given me a deeper understanding of that language. Being part of an entity that does little in the "Trade-Off" area of acquisition, I have neglected looking into that deeper.

Question, the provision is not required (nor do I like how it is written), but where would you suggest placing evaluation language/criteria?

Just edit the provision.  

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13 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

Just edit the provision.  

 

Constricting - Hopefully Joel does not mind the clarification but I would offer that you do not edit the provision.   If in fact you want to use your own language supported by evaluation criteria you would create your own provision.  I have provided a sample of the title and starting language on the way I would go about it below.  I say this noting the following language of the FAR.

12.602(a) "When evaluation factors are used, the contracting officer may insert a provision substantially the same as the provision at 52.212-2, Evaluation-Commercial Items, in solicitations for commercial items..."

My example -

Evaluation of Offers - Commercial Items - In lien of FAR 52.212-2 the following provision is inserted.  (and then go from here.)

 

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On 4/24/2018 at 6:15 PM, Vern Edwards said:

Don't think in terms of regulations! Think in terms of concepts and principles. FAR 12.208 has nothing to do with what I've been trying to tell you, and there is no logical connection between what it says and the conclusion that you reached. Close your damned FAR and THINK!

I'm reading Steven Kelman's (former OFPP Administrator) book "Unleashing Change" about his procurement reforms in the mid 1990s and this comment reminded me of some of his remarks in the second chapter (emphasis added):

Quote

...the most important problem with rules was not what they contained but what they left out.  Nothing in the rules prohibited people from looking for better ways to do business in areas the rules did not address.  Most rules involved processes people needed to follow...No rule admonished "Get a good deal for the government," if for no other reason than that such a "rule" would provide insufficient guidance and hence would not fill the role rules are supposed to fill.  Furthermore, when rules regulate most parts of a person's job, it is natural to conclude that the job consists only in following the rules.  So a rule-based system sent a signal to focus on process rather than results.  Put another way, a rule-based system, by delineating minimally acceptable behavior, easily slides into delineation of maximum performance...An organization cannot put blinders on its personnel and then expect peripheral vision.

 

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2 hours ago, C Culham said:

 

Constricting - Hopefully Joel does not mind the clarification but I would offer that you do not edit the provision.   If in fact you want to use your own language supported by evaluation criteria you would create your own provision.  I have provided a sample of the title and starting language on the way I would go about it below.  I say this noting the following language of the FAR.

12.602(a) "When evaluation factors are used, the contracting officer may insert a provision substantially the same as the provision at 52.212-2, Evaluation-Commercial Items, in solicitations for commercial items..."

My example -

Evaluation of Offers - Commercial Items - In lien of FAR 52.212-2 the following provision is inserted.  (and then go from here.)

 

Carl, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t know the limitations or restrictions of whatever  electronic contracting system that the original poster is using.  However it appeared from the quoted  language in the original post that the provision at 52.212-2 is editable.

Obviously, a  contracting specialist will have to  include a description of the basis of award and any evaluation criteria somewhere in every solicitation. 

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