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SusanCFCM

Learning About Contracting with Like Minded People

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Contract Management friends in Government and Industry,

 

If you had the opportunity to join a Community of Practice “CoP” or working group (basically a group of people who share a concern or a passion for contracting, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly), what type of CoP or working group would you join?

 

What topics or areas would you be interested in learning more about and sharing your knowledge of with your peers? Would it be hot topics or fundamentals, or both? What keeps you up at night? Essentially what would you want to get together to discuss?

 

There’s no wrong answer. Let your voice be heard… comment below.

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Hi Don - the answer to your question is yes! I consider Wifcon to be a "virtual" CoP. An excellent one at that. To my knowledge this is an online forum only - is that correct? And maybe that's what the contracting community wants. I am also thinking about folks who meet up at conferences annually or more frequently. And for those who meet regionally. I could extrapolate from the topics on Wifcon, but would also like to hear directly from folks who use Wifcon.

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I’ve known several CoPs over the years.  The most successful focused on one aspect of the process instead of something broad like contracting in general.  For example the practices were based on things like source selection, IT, PBA, and professional services.  They met regularly like monthly for brown bag lunch sessions.  They covered items like best practices, new and innovative concepts, GAO decisions, and ways to educate and standardize procedures.  Members often contributed and shared things in between meetings using group email, SharePoint, and informal get together.  The most successful were built on a clear purpose and a sense of collaboration and teamwork.  More recently with so much telework and virtual work, I’m not sure how successful they are.

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2 minutes ago, formerfed said:

I’ve known several CoPs over the years.  The most successful focused on one aspect of the process instead of something broad like contracting in general.  For example the practices were based on things like source selection, IT, PBA, and professional services.  They met regularly like monthly for brown bag lunch sessions.  They covered items like best practices, new and innovative concepts, GAO decisions, and ways to educate and standardize procedures.  Members often contributed and shared things in between meetings using group email, SharePoint, and informal get together.  The most successful were built on a clear purpose and a sense of collaboration and teamwork.  More recently with so much telework and virtual work, I’m not sure how successful they are.

Thanks formerfed - that is helpful information!

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11 hours ago, SusanCFCM said:

Hi Don - the answer to your question is yes! I consider Wifcon to be a "virtual" CoP. An excellent one at that. To my knowledge this is an online forum only - is that correct? And maybe that's what the contracting community wants. I am also thinking about folks who meet up at conferences annually or more frequently. And for those who meet regionally. I could extrapolate from the topics on Wifcon, but would also like to hear directly from folks who use Wifcon.

Susan:

In addition to an online forum, this site includes news, decisions, and rules every workday.  I've done that for the past 21 years.  

I view this as a general COP for contracting.  The forum's members are from government, industry, educational intstitutions, etc.  They are located on different parts of the Earth.  (I am not aware of anyone posting from Antartica.)

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Agree that a Wifcon is a CoP for general knowledge, learning and shared experiences.  In fact, it’s the best anywhere.  

My prior comments address specific CoPs to implement and improve contracting at an agency, organization, or business level.  For example lots of information is out there on any given contracting subject.  CoPs are ideal for implementing and improving practices.  Take source selections.  Numerous ways to do it when you’re at detailed levels.  However just because something is an innovative or best approach at one agency doesn’t mean it will work at yours.  There are lots of barriers often to overcome.  Some are cultural, others policy, and procedural, and still others are training and educational. CoPs are great to change, adopt, and improve. 

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A CoP that could be started at just about any agency in streamlining the contracting process.  Many new concepts are being tested and utilized throughout the Government.  But most are in isolated pockets.  It seems like walls of resistance are in place for other agencies to try something new or different unless they are told to from above.  Why not start CoPs with a purpose of streamlining your agency or office’ contracting practice?

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I offered a CoP last week.  They just need to pick a specific subject and find people willing to be active participants of the CoP.  I can make one of the participants the moderator of it.  I can make it private--hidden or unseen.  I can make it contractor only, government only, inclusive, etc.  No offers.

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It really varies, contracting is full of tiny little niches that don't have that much in common with each other:

Topics I'm Interested In

  • Process Improvement & Streamlining
  • Source Selection for Services excluding FAR 15
  • IT System Acquisition
  • Innovation 
  • Metrics and Performance Measurement

Don't Care

  • Anything Cost Plus
  • DoD stuff, like OTA
  • FAR 31
  • Construction
  • Sealed Bidding
  • Buzzy-Buzz-Buzz: AI / Blockchain / Machine Learning / Platforms / Robotic Process Automation / etc.
  • Anything that applies only to FAR 15

 

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OTA is an interesting example.  Congressional authorization spread outside DoD and Energy, Transportation, DHS, HHS, and NASA also use them.  Several FAR exempt agencies developed similar means but don’t specifically call them OTAs.  Then at least a couple offices thought up a process very close to OTAs but insist they are still FAR compliant.  They aren’t making it known yet.

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