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For a work project.

Looking for open accessible data sources for data about the INPUT of contracting, especially more granular data.  Data like # and grade of 1102s.  Budget.  Workload per employee.  Any type of time-series contract process data (time b/w milestones, ALTs, stuff like that).  I doubt there is much, or anything, publically available, but I thought I'd poll the audience.

For OUTPUT, I know I can pull respectably detailed contract information from FPDS-NG, so I am not too concerned about that side of the box.    

 

 

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17 minutes ago, General.Zhukov said:

Looking for open accessible data sources for data about the INPUT of contracting, especially more granular data.  Data like # and grade of 1102s.  Budget.  Workload per employee.  Any type of time-series contract process data (time b/w milestones, ALTs, stuff like that).  I doubt there is much, or anything, publically available, but I thought I'd poll the audience.

When you have completed your search for sources, let us know what you found. I search for data sources all the time. It takes many hours of my time. But I do my own looking.

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You may want to check NCMA and or Bloomberg Government as a source.  I found a report by NCMA and Bloomberg Government on 2013 Government Contracting that contained data on 1102 work force "Total Number of 1102s, 1998–2013" and "Average Number of Contract Dollars Obligated Per 1102" and they may have better data in a more recent report. Here's the link for reference:

https://www.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/pdfs_edit/061914cc3.pdf

 

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1 hour ago, policyguy said:

You may want to check NCMA and or Bloomberg Government as a source. 

Reminded me that info in such publications is derived from government sources.   Consider some surfing using OPM as a +.  I did a quick one and turned up a brochure from FAI that implied one could find more data.  Could not copy link but it was named...

1102 Career Field Brochure.pdf

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Update:  Investigating these leads.  Thank you.

OPM has personnel data.  I don't know this data, or how accurate it is, but there is a lot of it.

I've found at least a few reports and publications that must have had granular acquisition workforce data, especially DoD.  This data is not obviously available, like an attached Excel file.  Probably going to end up emailing authors.  Sigh....

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@Vern Edwards I'm a fed, this is work.  My HCA is interested in making use of office's contract, financial and operational data.  He wants us to go exploring into this data and see what we find, and to see if this data can help answer some long-standing questions. 

Basically, I bucket the data into three types.  Outputs (contract actions), Inputs (staff, hours) and Process (PALT, stuff like that).  We've got these data, but we just starting to make use of it.  Analysis is descriptive, or versions of this model  [Input] x [Process] = [Output].    

Examples: 

  1. Our data shows that an average 1102 awards somewhere between 30-45 contract actions per year (depending on how you measure, whether to include close-outs, mass mods related to COVID-19, etc.).  About half of all the actions are modifications.  The composition of work does NOT really change much with GS grade, but the volume increases a lot.   That is, GS-13s and 14s don't work on a handful of the most complex contracts, rather, they do do much more of everything (on average) compared to our 9/11/12s.  This is surprise.  What does it mean?  Don't know yet.  Do we want to change this as an office?  Probably.  Does this imply we should hire more junior staff to replace our senior staff and spend that money elsewhere?  Dunno.
  2. It also shows that, for PALT, actions under the SAT are late much more frequently than contracts for, say >1M$.  Under SAT actions have much shorter PALTs that Contract Specialists gripe about as being unrealistic, and the data backs them up.  Maybe we should change them?
  3. Does high workload or manager turn-over lead a leading indicator for new employees exiting the organization early?  We all think so, but we are all just guessing.  When the data is in better shape, we may be able to answer this question definitively.

However, what's missing is a baseline or something to compare ourselves to.  We have a sample size of one.  Are our processes and metrics within the norm?  Is there a norm?  I have no idea, just guesses.   For comparison purposes, it goes back to Input, Output, Process.  That is the data I am looking for, from other agencies.

At a very basic level,

Output = FPDS-NG reports.

Input = OPM's Fedscope (thanks @formerfed) has basic FTE stats.  That's better than nothing, but I'd like to know much more.  

Process = nothing.  Zilch.

So these later two are what I am looking for.

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11 hours ago, General.Zhukov said:

Under SAT actions have much shorter PALTs that Contract Specialists gripe about as being unrealistic, and the data backs them up. 

This is very interesting especially when it is implied that the SAT actions are less than $1M.  A PALT derived by an entity, a process controlled by the entity and the workforce through the procedures that are either demanded or created by they themselves to accomplish.....hmmmmm?   Makes me wonder about the $25K to $250K as compared to $250K to $1M (for commercial item).

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

Might you say that input is workload (requisitions, changes, etc.), process is the workforce and its procedures, and output is contract awards, mods, closeouts, etc.?

Is it a norm that you want to compare yourselves to, or is it a mandate, goal, or ideal?

Yes, that's right.   I sometimes see contracting as a type of 'queuing system.'  Work comes in, its gets done, and goes out.  My favorite analogy is a car mechanic's shop or law office.   

I think our HCA would like to compare ourselves to 'the norm' first.  Given the type of contracting work we do, is our process normal compared to other contract agencies?  

 

   

 

 

 

  

   

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3 hours ago, C Culham said:

A PALT derived by an entity, a process controlled by the entity and the workforce through the procedures that are either demanded or created by they themselves to accomplish.....hmmmmm? 

We have two PALTs.

The Target PALTs  are negotiated between two major parties - Contracting Office and the Program Office.  This is one that Simplifieds are missing.  The Actual PALTs how much time it actually takes.   Actual PALT > Target PALT => Bad.  % Target PALTs missed are a KPI.  What's useful about data analysis is that this negotiation has, in the past, taken place in the absence of actual evidence.   Looking at the data, we can see that our PALTS should probably be tweaked and there is room for win/win between the two parties.  

 

Another thing we can look into with the data we will (eventually) have is what factors contribute to actual PALT?   My hypothesis is that I can predict most of actual PALT with just three factors:   

  1. Product vs. Service
  2. Competitive vs. Other (Non-Competitive, SAP, Directed Small Biz, Single-Award TOs, etc.)
  3. Under or Over SAT (for this, $300K or $300M are the same thing, both over SAT)

I'd put Commercial/Non-Commercial, but the nature of my agency's work is that this isn't an important distinction for us. 

 

Edited by General.Zhukov
typo
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@ Marshal Zhukov:

Try searching at Google Scholar.

Lead time has long been a matter of concern. There is a lot of material available online about "procurement lead time" and "administrative lead time" and "procurement administrative lead time," both in government and in the private sector. Some of it is readily available online, some of it is available through public or university libraries, and some of it is available only through subscription services or with online payment. I'm not sure what you're looking for or what you buy, so I'm not sure if any of the stuff would be helpful to you.

See, for instance, MacKinnon, "A Forecasting Model for Procurement Administrative Lead Time," available through the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a258016.pdf

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This kind of data is most useful when you can compare yourself with other similar organizations.  Years ago a group called the Procurement Executive Association created a Balanced Scorecard process

http://sdcc.vn/template/4399_BalancedScorecardPerfAndMeth.pdf

To me the benefit was selecting areas where you didn’t do well and research other organizations doing better.  You then found out what they did differently and you got ideas for improvement.  But the data by itself doesn’t help you much.  The effort got dropped after a few years though because it was a huge annual undertaking and the participating organizations felt they received the information they sought.

PALT can be useful or not.  You need to have multiple categories based on various aspects of procurement - dollar value, commodity, various actions that get triggered as part of the process, etc. The starting point for measuring also is contentious - does it begin with receipt of a “ready” requirement, identification of a program need, or release of a solicitation per the latest OFPP thinking?  All have pros and cons.  For example, too much emphases on a “ready” requisition can mean the procurement office staff constantly returning requisitions because the requisition is missing minor items and they don’t want the clock to start.

Another issue is many offices feel procurement needs to be a support or service organization and there to assist program offices.  That means giving advice and assistance such as developing strategy, conducting market research, preparing SOWs, developing evaluation plans, etc.  Doing this work upfront can mean good PALT performance data and the program office function efficiently in doing their work upfront.  By the same token, a procurement office can do nothing except keep returning requisitions because they lack being “ready” and the program office is frustrated and experiences major delays getting the action going.  But PALT could still be good.      
 

Staffing and grade structure all fits in as well.  PALT performance can be poor if an office lacks sufficient numbers of people or the right ones.  The volume and type of workload severely impacts performance.  Several agencies devised workload models as did a couple consulting companies.  These models allow an office to measure themselves against other similar offices.  I know of one major office that used this data to greatly expand the number of positions.  

 

 

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20 hours ago, formerfed said:

The starting point for measuring also is contentious - does it begin with receipt of a “ready” requirement, identification of a program need, or release of a solicitation per the latest OFPP thinking?  All have pros and cons.  For example, too much emphases on a “ready” requisition can mean the procurement office staff constantly returning requisitions because the requisition is missing minor items and they don’t want the clock to start.

lol.  Did you work at my agency?  Anyways, agreed PALT has its uses and limits.  At some future time when I've gotten a handle on the basics, our data may incorporate quality metrics, such as they are, things like audit findings, review & approval.  

Thank you @Vern Edwards for that paper.  I love that stuff.  

For the detailed data that seems to not be available online, I'm going to reach out to our sister agencies within our Department.  Thank you all, its been very helpful, I don't think I will be updating this discussion again.

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