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bob7947

The Federal Contracting Process: Starting from Scratch.

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20 hours ago, here_2_help said:

I don't mean to be coy but I won't identify the specific topic in a public forum. Don already knows it (if he recalls our discussion). The point is, many in the government acquisition team know their knowledge gaps and they are trying to fill them ... any solution to the knowledge gap needs to include the means of providing individual learning that is tailored to individual need, rather than focusing on a one-size-fits-all approach.

While DAU courses are important to reducing the lack of knowledge among contract personnel, I believe OJT is equally, or more, important. One can learn concepts in DAU courses offered in classrooms or on line, but the true meaning of the concepts and their application can be learned only on-the-job. The actual application of concepts, policies and procedures via the conduct of a procurement creates knowledge, not the viewing of Power Point slides in a classroom or on a computer screen.

From my experience, very few, if any, contracting offices have an OJT program.

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Vern:

Years ago, I don't know if it was before CICA or after, FSS was using negotiation to buy autos.  They were using standards instead of specifications.  I never saw them asking anyone for clarifications, discussions, best and finals (used back then), etc.  Negotiation worked.  I could have challenged their use of negotiation instead of formal advertising/sealed bidding but I decided it might have had a detrimental effect on FSS.  I let it slide.

In 1842, the U. S. Congress laid out 4 basic procedures for advertising at 5 Stat. 526.  They are

  • public notice of the agency need,
  • sealed offers,
  • public opening of bids, and
  • award to the lowest bidder.

I'm sure GAO and its predecessors filled in the blanks.

They should look there for exceptions or conditions to advertising that permitted something called negotiaion.  Then they should go to 1862 and think qui tam.

That is what members should strive to learn--everything they can.  They should go to 1 Stat 234, 2 Stat 536, (2 Ops. Att'y Gen. 257., 259). 12 Stat 103.  Take on ASPA of 1947 and FPASA of 1949.  Read the legislative histories. Study the COGP and what it said.  (I've posted links to it and GAO reports that Congress required.)  Find out why there is an OFPP, why there is a CICA, etc.

Find out about the old House Committee on Government Operations and the Senate Committee of Government Affairs.  They need to know how PL 87-653 came about and who Carl Vinson, Lawton Chiles, and Jack Brooks were.  I've been there, I've done that, decades ago.  Who else knows anything about procurement history.  I'm sure there are a handful of people here that do and they are the ones that post here.  There are a handful that will check my citations to statute and maybe look for that Attorney General opinion.  Those that do will say huh and enjoy any new knowlege they gain.  I'm sure that Thornberry has no idea of what came before him and that is one reason he spews crap before us.

That is the problem, too few people care.  It's easier to be an automaton.

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5 hours ago, bob7947 said:

They should look there for exceptions or conditions to advertising that permitted something called negotiaion.  Then they should go to 1862 and think qui tam.

Who is "they"?

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2 hours ago, napolik said:

While DAU courses are important to reducing the lack of knowledge among contract personnel, I believe OJT is equally, or more, important. One can learn concepts in DAU courses offered in classrooms or on line, but the true meaning of the concepts and their application can be learned only on-the-job. The actual application of concepts, policies and procedures via the conduct of a procurement creates knowledge, not the viewing of Power Point slides in a classroom or on a computer screen.

From my experience, very few, if any, contracting offices have an OJT program.

I'm not disagreeing with you, but my point was a bit different. Having taught a course or two in my time, I've learned to start every class with a request (essentially a demand) that the students ask questions. I can provide the class with a lot of theory and a lot of rules, but I cannot provide each student with the ability to apply that knowledge to their particular job. Only they can do that, and the only way they can do that is to ask questions about how to apply the theories/rules to their unique circumstances. Moreover, I would urge DAU and other training centers to better tailor what is taught to what is actually needed by the student. Some people don't need to know cost-reimbursement contracting (right now) because they aren't doing it. Teaching the theory and the rules before the knowledge can be applied just wastes the limited RAM in peoples' heads. It's like learning a foreign language: if you don't practice speaking and reading and writing the language, the knowledge just atrophies.

Now that I write this, I feel this post might be seen as disagreeing with what Bob just posted above me. He seems to be exhorting everybody to learn everything. I agree with that! Intellectual curiosity is a rare trait that identifies high performers.* But timing is important. Learning information without the ability to apply that information doesn't help. In fact, most of us will need to relearn that information downstream when it comes time to use it.

 

 

* I recently heard somebody say of Vern that he is "the most intellectually curious man I've ever met." The person who said that is a well-respected government contracts attorney.

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2 hours ago, bob7947 said:

They should go to 1 Stat 234, 2 Stat 536, (2 Ops. Att'y Gen. 257., 259). 12 Stat 103.  Take on ASPA of 1947 and FPASA of 1949.  Read the legislative histories. Study the COGP and what it said.  (I've posted links to it and GAO reports that Congress required.)  Find out why there is an OFPP, why there is a CICA, etc.

Find out about the old House Committee on Government Operations and the Senate Committee of Government Affairs.  They need to know how PL 87-653 came about and who Carl Vinson, Lawton Chiles, and Jack Brooks were. 

I don't agree with Bob. It takes time to find and read those kinds of things, and I don't think there is an immediate payoff for people who are trying to learn their profession. A student taking his or her first flying lessons needs to learn many things, but not the history of how the Wrights developed their flyer and of the early flights at Kitty Hawk and Ohio.

Concepts, principles, rules, and practices, in that order. You learn by observing or having something pointed out to you, asking questions of yourself and others, answering the questions, and questioning the answers. 

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Vern

Quote

I don't agree with Bob. 

Don:

Quote

Now that I write this, I feel this post might be seen as disagreeing with what Bob just posted above me. He seems to be exhorting everybody to learn everything. I agree with that! Intellectual curiosity is a rare trait that identifies high performers.* But timing is important. Learning information without the ability to apply that information doesn't help. In fact, most of us will need to relearn that information downstream when it comes time to use it.

I can accept that.  I didn't read and study those things until 15 years into my career.  Now, those who are interested and have the time can look at the citations and learn some good stuff without having to do the research that I did.  I know one or two people here will check my citations.  I'll probably do it again myself because I want to see it again.  

Vern:

Quote

Who is "they"?

The people who don't know it is there.  Come to think of it, I'm going to look at some of those citations again.  

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5 hours ago, bob7947 said:

They should go to 1 Stat 234, 2 Stat 536, (2 Ops. Att'y Gen. 257., 259). 12 Stat 103.  Take on ASPA of 1947 and FPASA of 1949.  Read the legislative histories. Study the COGP and what it said.  (I've posted links to it and GAO reports that Congress required.)  Find out why there is an OFPP, why there is a CICA, etc.

Nonsense, Bob. A contract specialist can spend a good part of a professional career learning just the ins and outs of cost and price analysis, profit analysis, fact-finding, pre-negotiation planning, and contract negotiation. Young people starting out should not waste valuable time looking up and reading 19th Century attorney general decisions, old statutes and their legislative history, and old committee reports, and delving into the origins of government bureaus as inconsequential as OFPP, trying to figure out how we got to where we are today. Instead, they should immerse themselves in study of the fundamentals of their work in pursuit of mastery. They should be working at learning how to read, write, think, and argue.

They can study old maps after they know every nook and cranny of the terrain in which they find themselves now. They can become philosophers of contracting after they've learned contracting.

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Nonsense, Bob. 

Nonense Vern.  They need to make time or maybe they need someone to explain in a 10 minute discussion.  That's all it takes.  Probably the time it takes to drink a six-pack and a family size bag of doritos.  If they don't take the time to read or hear about where we've been, they will never spend the time to do what you want.  I agree that they should strive to be the best at their jobs.  I just want them to be complete.  That isn't nonsense.

 

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Bob,

The typical newcomer to contracting does not know how our laws are made, organized, or published. Same for regulations. I've had persons in my classes with 20 years of experience and unlimited CO warrants who could not say what U.S.C. stands for, what is in it, or how it got there. They don't know what the 10 in 10 U.S.C. 2304 stands for. They can't interpret citations like 2 Stat. 536. They don't know the relationship between the Stat. and the U.S.C. And since I've explained it all to thousands of people, I can tell you that it takes more than 10 minutes, and that they forget it two days later.

What you are asking people to do would discourage them. Basics first. Basics, basics, basics.

But you're entitled to your opinion, ill-considered and unrealistic though it may be.

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Vern:

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 I've had persons in my classes with 20 years of experience and unlimited CO warrants who could not say what U.S.C. stands for, what is in it, or how it got there. They don't know what the 10 in 10 U.S.C. 2304 stands for. They can't interpret citations like 2 Stat. 536. They don't know the relationship between the Stat. and the U.S.C.

 Did you recommend to their agency that they be quarantined?

 

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Bob,

I think you'd be surprised at how common it was. I could put you in touch with other teachers who would tell you the same. We've often discussed it among ourselves. Many, many adult Americans know little if anything about our legal system. 

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 I could put you in touch with other teachers who would tell you the same. 

That's OK.  When I found that Attorny General opinion in the GAO Library on its 6th floor, I was excited for 2 reasons.  First, the decision was interesting.  Second, the volumes were first editions but they were annotated by individuals from agencies that preceded GAO.  Because of that, they had little value. I tried to share my excitement about the first ediditons with the librarian and I was given the classic doh stare.  After a few more dohs, I shrunk back to my little corner of the law library.  I had access to all sorts of things including the hard copy legislative histories of procurement laws such as the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA).  That's where Lawton Chiles came from.  His versions of CICA began in the late 1970s.  I did the same for 87-653 at 76 Stat 528.  FPASA, 95-507, etc.  I cannot remember them all.  

I had access to the B-files and ordered them from an elderly woman in the procurement law branch.  She told me about the A-files that prededed the B-files.  She's probably in her 120s now and swallowed up by the cloud

Eventually, Lexis emptied out the law library and I was the last regular researcher that used the place.  I don't even know if it exists now.  If it does, its shrouded in cobwebs.

Anyone want to guess what the U.S.C.C.A.N. is?  Don't cheat.

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All I know is that I put "1 Stat 234" into Google search and I got back links to a number of statistics classes at the Univ. of Chicago.

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The debate between @Vern Edwards and @bob7947 assumes a workforce that can learn complex concepts or procedures from written materials. 

There is a frightening large proportion of the federal workforce that would be struggling with a cash register if they had not been blessed by a federal hiring program (call it "work for welfare"). This proportion is hopeless. They cannot prosper under Vern's or Bob's regime.

There used to be a federal civil service exam, which ensured that the federal bureaucracy was staffed with intelligent, competent, and conscientious professionals. But that conflicted with America's new religion, so it was abandoned.

Bring back the federal civil service exam and fire at least one third of the federal workforce. 

 

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For the record, PepeTheFrog favors Vern's military, Prussian, practical approach for the workforce. 

By the way, do you know one of the few American institutions that still (directly) discriminates on intelligence? The U.S. military. Look up the ASVAB. The U.S. military will not let you become a pilot if you're an idiot because you and others will die. 

Almost all other institutions or corporations were forced to indirectly discriminate by using expensive and wasteful proxies like college and certifications. 

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To discriminate -- "to recognize and understand the difference between one thing and another."

Discrimination is a good thing, except when based on protected characteristics. For example, the ability to discriminate between a poisonous snake and a harmless snake is a good thing.

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49 minutes ago, PepeTheFrog said:

Vern's military, Prussian, practical approach for the workforce

What approach is that?

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On 4/27/2018 at 2:19 PM, Vern Edwards said:

The number one problem is a lack of professional knowledge and competence on the part of the workforce. 

 

And the number two problem is the lack of responsible and accountable leadership. After all, somebody is signing that crap that goes out the door.

Hence, my Two Golden Rules of Government Consulting:

1. Management never believes it's their fault, and;

2. It's always management's fault (see first sentence above).

 

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