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We have at least 90 plus percent of all Topics started as a question and they will not stop.  Don't write that we need to turn down all questions. If we turn down all questions, there will be 1 or 2 contracting posts a year here.  We need to make more out of the question in addition to answering the question--if we can.  Recently, we received the following topic

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Say there is a contract requiring the  contractor to provide storage space for an agency's government file boxes, like in a warehouse.  It is a fixed-price contract task order off of the GSA Schedule.  With only a few weeks to go until the contract expires, it comes to light that the contractor has lost a bunch of the file boxes.  The contractor admits it cannot locate them and has given up.  The contractor has submitted invoices for full payment.  What is the appropriate way for the agency to handle such a situation?  Obviously, the agency shouldn't pay the invoices where the contractor didn't perform, but how would one calculate that here?  

Don't try to answer that question.  I'm asking our entire community--anyone, how should we respond to the above question.  Can we turn it into something more.  Be creative.  Please don't bicker and work within our comunity.

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Additional comments

I believe we were close to turning the quoted question into a useful discussion that could have been carried out in a new topic.  That might have been helpful to many of our Members.  It's our fault that it didn't happen.  At least 3 of the members here recognized that.   However, the OP opted out and would not go in that direction. 

Currently, I am reviewing every response to this question in the other topic and will send you my thoughts on your posts in a PM.  It may take a day or two.

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I think the only way to respond to that post is with questions, because there isn't enough information to provide an answer. I would begin by asking--

What is the contractor's responsibility for the file boxes under the contract? 

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1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

I think the only way to respond to that post is with questions, because there isn't enough information to provide an answer. I would begin by asking--

What is the contractor's responsibility for the file boxes under the contract? 

Amen.  But the OP phrased the post by saying that the contractor lost the file boxes, then invoicesd for storing them. 

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Wifcon threads are like water cooler discussions -- someone shares something, and someone else offers a thought -- it's called conversation.  Sometimes the thoughts are right on, and sometimes they aren't but they cause the original poster to think. 

  • OP:  I have a headache.
  • R:  It's probably the new fluorescent lighting.
  • OP:  No, I don't think so.  I was on vacation last week in the outdoors, and had it then, too.
  • R:  Oh, maybe you have allergies.
  • OP:  Maybe.  If I still have the headache tomorrow, I'll go to the clinic.
  • R:  Best wishes.

"R" shared some thoughts, and maybe those thoughts caused "OP" to reflect and explore.  If another respondent "R2" wants to get involved and share some thoughts that support or differ from "R", that's also welcome -- maybe "R2" offers a similar or a different opinion.  Either way, "OP" can take what he hears from all respondents and make a better informed decision, or at least be a little better prepared for further discussions within his or her own office.  It would be sad if "R2" hollered at "R," castigated "R" for providing a diagnosis without a medical degree, and tried to bully "R" out of the discussion thread.

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In this case, the OP wrote that it was a task order under a GSA schedule contract.  Retreadfed asked what Schedule and received no response.

Should there be a point where we decide that he/she is nonresponsive to our request for information and close the topic?  Should there be some time period in which we ask questions and then provide the OP with a deadline to respond to our questions?

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4 minutes ago, bob7947 said:

Should there be a point where we decide that he/she is nonresponsive to our request for information and close the topic?  Should there be some time period in which we ask questions and then provide the OP with a deadline to respond to our questions?

Maybe.  That will require heavier moderation than in the past.  If so, the time period should probably be measured in days rather than hours.  Sometimes, someone will make a very useful comment on a thread that has been inactive for weeks or months — I would hate to lose that.

I think original posters don’t respond to questions for several reasons, including—

1.  They already have an answer;

2.  They don’t understand or see the relevance of the question;

3.  They might perceive the question as a challenge or a trap;

4.  They want to keep things vague because they don’t want the thread being identified with them;

5.  They don’t want to take sides or get involved in a spat;

6.  They’re afraid to show a lack of knowledge; or

7.  The questioner is coming on too strongly.  

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13 minutes ago, ji20874 said:

Maybe.  That will require heavier moderation than in the past.  If so, the time period should probably be measured in days rather than hours.  Sometimes, someone will make a very useful comment on a thread that has been inactive for weeks or months — I would hate to lose that.

I think original posters don’t respond to questions for several reasons, including—

1.  They already have an answer;

2.  They don’t understand or see the relevance of the question;

3.  They might perceive the question as a challenge or a trap;

4.  They want to keep things vague because they don’t want the thread being identified with them;

5.  They don’t want to take sides or get involved in a spat;

6.  They’re afraid to show a lack of knowledge; or

7.  The questioner is coming on too strongly.  

Agree. They probably often feel intimidated...

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7 hours ago, bob7947 said:

In this case, the OP wrote that it was a task order under a GSA schedule contract.  Retreadfed asked what Schedule and received no response.

Should there be a point where we decide that he/she is nonresponsive to our request for information and close the topic?  Should there be some time period in which we ask questions and then provide the OP with a deadline to respond to our questions?

As my wife often says, “Who are ’we’- you and that frog in your pocket?”.

Who will provide a deadline? 

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Bob, You asked " how should we respond to the above question (emphasis added)."  I was in a situation in government subcontracting where management insisted that a group of a dozen or so employees must each give the same answer to management in a given question (similar to the posted question you are focused on), or the job was not being done right. I found that to be unrealistic and impossible. My response to your question is that we should respond to all questions by making the poster aware of something along these lines:

 

The responding community includes a variety of experience and knowledge and therefore your question invokes different reference points and thoughts to the reader. Legal advice in not intended. You should view responses and focus on those you view as responsive, helpful and supported by information and facts that might help you find an answer. This may require further research and thought on your end. In many posts, further information is requested of you in order to get everyone on the same page before the best responses solidify. Therefore, your response to these questions is sought. 

    

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10 hours ago, bob7947 said:

In this case, the OP wrote that it was a task order under a GSA schedule contract.  Retreadfed asked what Schedule and received no response.

Should there be a point where we decide that he/she is nonresponsive to our request for information and close the topic?  Should there be some time period in which we ask questions and then provide the OP with a deadline to respond to our questions?

 

10 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

Agree. They probably often feel intimidated...

As Ibn said, this is like a social media site. At least that’s the way the bulk of members think.  It’s a water cooler as Ji said.  In today’s time, there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s the way people gather information and don’t have the patience to do extensive research and want long, detailed response.  Quick information that’s maybe 80% correct is the norm.  People are accustomed to answers that aren’t alway correct and know they need to sort through multiple responses and decide what’s needed for them.

As far as the original question, maybe posting some rules or notices of member expectations?  Something like “when you post questions, be prepared for follow up questions.  The membership here is largely experienced and in most cases, more information is needed before proper replies can be made.  You and your questions are anonymous.  There’s no need to feeling intimidated or foolish because this site is about informing and better preparing personnel to perform.  Be prepared to promptly answer those questions.  If you don’t, your question will be closed within a couple days.”

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13 hours ago, bob7947 said:

I'm asking our entire community--anyone, how should we respond to the above question. 

 

For a response I believe adopting a mix of the thoughts already provided would have been most appropriate.  Quickly stated that would be stating that there is not enough information and posing questions.   I would propose that the whole of the usual responders take time for an OP to actually provide responses before providing the fix.  How long?   Maybe a day or two.  Why? Like many I do not visit the Forum every minute of every day.  Life gets in the way and so I many not pick up on a thread in the very minute it is posted and actually may have a question to help.

From another view I have had the feeling in some posts that the responder to the OP has not read the OP’s post closely enough.  

An example of these initial thoughts is with the thread in example where the OP posted at Friday at 5:09PM and Retread posted one of the magic questions on Sunday at 8:53AM.   So even us as responders need to take it slow too.

The  wording of the terms and conditions keep coming up.  I am not sure they are reflective of the intent of the site.  If it is just in the wording consider changing it as the Forum has a valuable function and has for many years..  Maybe something like –

This is a discussion forum. Users understand that the information provided on this forum is only for discussion purposes. The intent of the discussions is to provide competent and respectable responses to contracting matters.  As a discussion forum and if you have a contracting problem and need an answer, the responses provided will assist you in contacting specific professional assistance. Users understand and agree that they use any information from this discussion forum at their own risk and they will not hold the owner of Wifcon.com nor anyone else liable for any information they take from this forum. Users agree and understand that the owner of WIFCON.com does not warrant any information on this discussion forum and that the owner of WIFCON.com and any poster bears no responsibility for the use of any information on this forum.

Clearly by statements made WIFCON was, and may well still be by some,  considered to be at the top of the heap so there is no doubt it can regain its stature if that is a true concern.   I am concerned that the suggested changes are too drastic.   After all until say the last year WIFCON was the place to go.  Makes me wonder if the perceived quality of the Forum goes along with the quality of the contracting profession itself these days..   There are plenty of posts throughout the Forum that express this concern. 

Coupled with the matter of where the profession is going is that by my experience the availability of WIFCON seems less known than it was 5 years ago. 

And to throw a stone from my glass house to others are posts like “Piss Off” really productive to the discussion?  There are many times I might have wanted to say the same thing but I restrain myself most of the time.   I will admit that I wish that I did a better job and make the commitment that  I intend to do so.

I have had thank you’s posted and I have had go away’s posted but like all here I believe I have posted information that is helpful to an OP.  If I have failed at one thing it  retracting statements that were patently wrong.  One more step I intend to take.

It is sad that the collective of posts with the new software go away if a participant asks to have their account deleted.  Regardless of how folks might feel about the quality I am with Bob that there is worth in every one of them.  With that known I can only hope that the collective of WIFCON would leave their posts for the future.  There is valuable information everywhere on WIFCON.

11 hours ago, Ibn Battuta said:

The Forum will never be a quality site as long as it tries to provide legal advice while pretending not to do that. Questions about career advice? Yes. Questions about where to find things in the regulations? Yes. Questions about personal experiences in contracting? Yes. Questions about acquisition strategy? Yes. But questions about what to do when X has happened? No, and h*** no. Bottom line: What you have been doing, and what you apparently would like to do, is too hard to do well through an undisciplined online medium.

 

Finally to this ideal I do not disagree other than the Forum was/is a quality site. But the suggestions are great.  I do struggle as to where legal advice has been given as opposed to legal information that fits the “Questions” and more.  I would gladly accept being pointed in the direction of where legal advice has occurred to help me for the future.

PS – I hope Ibn stays!

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I don't agree with much of Ibn's posts on this particular topic. People ask questions and they do so for differing reasons, and they do so from differing bases of knowledge and experience. The one thing in common is that they are asking for assistance on a problem they have. Often, we lack necessary facts and we attempt (with mixed success) to get additional facts to help shape our advice/assistance. Often, we try to offer advice/assistance, knowing we lack the necessary facts to offer solid, concrete advice/assistance. That's just the way it is.

When I attempt to answer a question, I try to remember that others are reading my post. If they learn from my post, I'm satisfied, even if the original poster was not.

Ibn has a worldview shaped by his international travels, and a willingness to write about his travels. It's taken him many years to acquire that worldview and knowledge and experience, and he tends to be impatient with those who lack his time in grade. Speaking personally, I'm enthusiastically willing to put up with his impatience because of the quality of discussion that often results from his input -- even when I'm the one he's pointing at for giving a poor response. One of the primary reasons I come to this discussion forum is to learn, and Ibn is a great teacher, though rough-edged. "No pain, no gain." When I stop learning I will stop coming here.

I emphatically vote to keep on answering questions, though I do very much like what Bob was hinting at -- taking the ensuing discussions to another thread. That way, the original question has whatever answers were provided, but then the "real" contracting discussion takes place elsewhere. Bob can close the discussion thread and point to the ensuing discussion, for those interested. Let's do that, if only to avoid the tangents that often pop up in the threads.

As to attorneys' opinions of this site -- "those who have never done become attorneys". I do not mean to offer offense (though I'm sure I just offended some folks). My point is, when I engage with attorneys--and I've engaged with world-class government contract attorneys--my advantage is not knowledge of the law or court precedents; my advantage is my real-world experience with solving actual business problems. Attorneys know tons more than I do about law and cases and application of rules to situations; but I know tons more than they do about the manufacturing process, or the introduction of new business lines, or the practical aspects of process improvement/change management. So … I don't particularly care what they think unless they have hands-on experience with the situation at hand.

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I appreciate all responses and will consider them during the day.  Although federal contracting is guided by law I do not remember anyone leading others to believe that this site's members are giving legal advice.  With that being said, a proposed action written by members can lead to legal ramifications and we have to be aware of that.  That of course is why the modified Google disclaimer clause was adopted and used it in the Terms.

This forum is part of the social media world.  I look at gun discussion board's, corvette discussion board's, baking discussion boards, and tweet now and then, etc.  Some of the responses are from experts on the forums and deal with legal issues.  However, the opinions provided receive from those forums only lead me to my own research.  The ideas and advice are welcomed. 

Responding to questions here, as part of the social media world, is very helpful and consistent with the intent of this entire forum. We will continue to entertain questions.  To do otherwise, would be the end of this forum.

This topic will remain public topic in case any member wishes to respond.  Every suggestion will be made in public so it can be seen.  You will have an opportunity to comment on my suggestion.  Neil provided an idea for an opening statement.  Some statement similar to that can be posted under each category or forum so it cannot be missed.  Additionally, a private discsussion group can be arranged and can be used by us to accumulate "information needed" and then post the aditional information needed to the OP.  If there is no response to the information request, we can close the topic.  However, that appears clumsy to me at this point.

I will continue to read the posts you provide. 

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H-2-H:

Quote

Ibn has a worldview shaped by his international travels, and a willingness to write about his travels. It's taken him many years to acquire that worldview and knowledge and experience, and he tends to be impatient with those who lack his time in grade. Speaking personally, I'm enthusiastically willing to put up with his impatience because of the quality of discussion that often results from his input -- even when I'm the one he's pointing at for giving a poor response. One of the primary reasons I come to this discussion forum is to learn, and Ibn is a great teacher, though rough-edged. "No pain, no gain." When I stop learning I will stop coming here.

I agree completely.  

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As to attorneys' opinions of this site  -- "those who have never done become attorneys". I do not mean to offer offense (though I'm sure I just offended some folks).

I'm sure you have and there are many government and private attorneys from large and small law offices who are members.

C Culham:

Quote

The  wording of the terms and conditions keep coming up.  I am not sure they are reflective of the intent of the site.  If it is just in the wording consider changing it as the Forum has a valuable function and has for many years..  Maybe something like –

This is a discussion forum. Users understand that the information provided on this forum is only for discussion purposes. The intent of the discussions is to provide competent and respectable responses to contracting matters.  As a discussion forum and if you have a contracting problem and need an answer, the responses provided will assist you in contacting specific professional assistance. Users understand and agree that they use any information from this discussion forum at their own risk and they will not hold the owner of Wifcon.com nor anyone else liable for any information they take from this forum. Users agree and understand that the owner of WIFCON.com does not warrant any information on this discussion forum and that the owner of WIFCON.com and any poster bears no responsibility for the use of any information on this forum.

Thank you.  Everything is on the table.

Quote

PS – I hope Ibn stays!

I hope so too.

Formerfed:

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As Ibn said, this is like a social media site. At least that’s the way the bulk of members think.  It’s a water cooler as Ji said.  In today’s time, there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s the way people gather information and don’t have the patience to do extensive research and want long, detailed response.  Quick information that’s maybe 80% correct is the norm.  People are accustomed to answers that aren’t alway correct and know they need to sort through multiple responses and decide what’s needed for them.

I agree with you too.  We must move with the times but we must do it with our controls.

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1 hour ago, formerfed said:

As Ibn said, this is like a social media site. At least that’s the way the bulk of members think.  It’s a water cooler as Ji said.  In today’s time, there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s the way people gather information and don’t have the patience to do extensive research and want long, detailed response.  Quick information that’s maybe 80% correct is the norm.  People are accustomed to answers that aren’t alway correct and know they need to sort through multiple responses and decide what’s needed for them.

You can't really say what the bulk of members think, but I think that it's fair to say that members expectations differ. Some want to be able to assert whatever they like without having to engage in any sort of substantive discussion. Others desire argumentation. By argumentation, I mean "the act or process of forming reasons and of drawing conclusions and applying them to a case in discussion." At one time I would have described the Wifcon forum as a community that valued argumentation, but maybe formerfed's description is now more accurate.

Perhaps there should be a "Water Cooler" forum for those members that want to give and receive responses to questions that are ~80% accurate. Nobody would have to respond to any differences of opinion or explain what they mean. Then there could be another forum where argumentation would be the norm. Participants would have to give reasons for their positions, provide evidence, be cooperative when challenged, etc. Posters can choose to post their question in either forum--they could even post in both. 

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Ooh, interesting: 

Examples of legal advice: https://www.upcounsel.com/legally-binding-document

“Selecting, drafting, or completing legal documents or agreements that affect the legal rights of a person”

Does a contract fall under the above sphere of legal advice? While a significant portion of a government contract uses standard forms and clauses, a significant portion doesn’t.  Technical requirements, statements of work, scopes of work, drawings, specifications, attachments, referenced standards and relevant industry standards, etc. are typically “selected” and/or drafted and/or completed by non-legal/non-attorneys.

Same often applies to contract negotiations, negotiations of modifications and claims, including many memoranda of agreement, memoranda of understanding, etc.

Commercial, state and municipal construction and A/E contracts are typically drafted, selected, and completed by architects and engineers.

Unless a lawyer is also an engineer or architect, I wouldn’t rely on a construction contract negotiated and drafted by them.

 

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13 hours ago, bob7947 said:

Before Ibn left, he found a definition of legal advice.  I am providing it for everyone.  I will use that in a future statement for use on Wifcon.com.  Thank you Ibn.  

The reference provided is one that I am  familiar with and had visited a couple of times as I considered my own posts within the forum.   Most interesting to me in a full read of the reference this popped out at me as an example offered in the online definition noted above as to "What Legal Advice is Not"....

"Responses to legal questions posted in online Q&A boards, even if provided by a licensed attorney"

I would add that I  visited a couple of other website discussions on the matter such as legalmatch.com, thelaw.com and did not find a counter view of the example I have noted.   Makes me think the any further concerns and considerations about whether WIFCON borders on legal advice is moot.  Just my observation that I will leave to Bob to determine as he considers next steps he speaks of.

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I have several things for this morning:

  • I will be posting a proposed paragraph covering professional services, incuding legal and accounting services here for your public comment.  When final, it will be posted under "The Instructions and Terms of Use" forum under the category Terms Of Use before the words "Reading the Terms Of Use is required to use this forum."  We have advertisers who are providing these services and advice.

  • I've started streamling the Wifcon.com Forums and Categories.  The Section 809 category will be eliminated with the Panel's reports placed in the Publications Page where OFPP Pamphlet, Gordon Rule's book The Art of Negotiationl the Commission on Government Procurement reports, etc.  Something will be done with any discussions.

  • We have over 6,000 registered accounts with some being duplicates.  I approve all accounts personnaly in an attempt to keep the spammers out.  If this wasn't done, I estimate that there would be about 60,000 to 100,000 registered accounts.  The internet is a dangerous place.  With 6,000 accounts, we should have more posts every day.  I will start another topic seeking answers about why the posts are so few.  As Administrator of this form, I can see the agencies, companies, etc. who are online viewing our forums.  This information in hidden from everyone else and I do not provide it to anyone.  There are many, many, many, that are viewing but not posting.

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13 hours ago, bob7947 said:

Before Ibn left, he found a definition of legal advice.  I am providing it for everyone.  I will use that in a future statement for use on Wifcon.com.  Thank you Ibn.  

Bob, I hope you are not implying that Ibn has once again left to engage in world travels. That would be a shame. Of course, maybe we'd get another book out of it. But still, I'd rather have him here.

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12 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

Ooh, interesting: 

Examples of legal advice: https://www.upcounsel.com/legally-binding-document

“Selecting, drafting, or completing legal documents or agreements that affect the legal rights of a person”

Does a contract fall under the above sphere of legal advice? While a significant portion of a government contract uses standard forms and clauses, a significant portion doesn’t.  Technical requirements, statements of work, scopes of work, drawings, specifications, attachments, referenced standards and relevant industry standards, etc. are typically “selected” and/or drafted and/or completed by non-legal/non-attorneys.

Same often applies to contract negotiations, negotiations of modifications and claims, including many memoranda of agreement, memoranda of understanding, etc.

I know, right? There are a number of contractors who won't hire 1102 types unless they are also licensed attorneys. I always wondered why -- seems like a very expensive contracts person. But perhaps now I see the rationale.

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Quote

The reference provided is one that I am  familiar with and had visited a couple of times as I considered my own posts within the forum.   Most interesting to me in a full read of the reference this popped out at me as an example offered in the online definition noted above as to "What Legal Advice is Not"....

"Responses to legal questions posted in online Q&A boards, even if provided by a licensed attorney"

I would add that I  visited a couple of other website discussions on the matter such as legalmatch.com, thelaw.com and did not find a counter view of the example I have noted.   Makes me think the any further concerns and considerations about whether WIFCON borders on legal advice is moot.  Just my observation that I will leave to Bob to determine as he considers next steps he speaks of.

C Culham:

I understand.  However, I received a PM (little letter at top right of page) from a user that thought we provided legal advice.  Since it is a PM, I cannot tell you more.  I've, posted an item of what I'm going to do just above your post.

PS:  Anyone here trust "Hickok45?"  How about "Paul Harrell?"  They are in a different field than contracting.  They do have a level of competence in their field similar to some of our posters.  I think WE have to go beyond common sense.

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H-2-H:

Quote

Bob, I hope you are not implying that Ibn has once again left to engage in world travels. That would be a shame. Of course, maybe we'd get another book out of it. But still, I'd rather have him here.

Yes, Ibn is gone at Ibn's request.

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10 minutes ago, bob7947 said:

H-2-H:

Yes, Ibn is gone at Ibn's request.

ma'a as-salaama 

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This is a modified version of the disclaimer at the beginning of the Terms of Use.  I will add it to the Terms of Use by the end of today.  C Culham.  I considered your post.

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DISCLAIMER

This is a discussion forum.  Users understand that the information provided on this forum is for discussion purposes, only.  The intent of the discussions is to provide competent responses to contracting matters.  If you have a specific contracting problem and need an answer, the responses provided may assist you in contacting specific professional assistance.  Users understand and agree that they use any information from this discussion forum at their own risk and they will not hold the owner of Wifcon.com nor anyone else liable for any information they take from this forum. Users agree and understand that the owner of WIFCON.com does not warrant any information on this discussion forum and that the owner of WIFCON.com and any poster bears no responsibility for the use of any information on this forum.

This will be placed directly under the Terms of Use and just before "Reading the Terms Of Use is required to use this forum."  I had trouble with the second sentence but settled on that.  It will be added by the end of the day.  Just don't start giving any medical advice.  :rolleyes: 

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This is a discussion forum to discuss contracting matters.  It is not a source of professional legal or accounting advice.

 

 

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