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The proposal is the PWS, it is the same document?

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In my experience, whenever the government agency provides a solicitation with a SOO instead of a real SOW or PWS, then, IAW FAR 37.602, the offerors are supposed to write the PWS in their proposal. In effect, the PWS they offer is their proposal. So it is one and the same document. However, I have colleagues who differ on this: they say the offeror provides a proposal and then a separate document that is their proposed PWS. This sounds bizarre to me. Thoughts?

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Guest Vern Edwards

The SOO is a statement of the objectives that you want to accomplish. The PWS is part of the proposal (offer)--the statement of what the contractor promises to do to achieve the objectives. If the Government accepts the proposal, the proposed PWS become part of the contract (Section C or an attachment). Within the proposal, the PWS may be a physically, but not legally, separate document--an attachment or appendix.

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In effect, the PWS they offer is their proposal. So it is one and the same document.

No, they are not one in the same. As Vern stated, a proposed PWS is not a proposal. A PWS describes the offeror's planned approach to meeting the objectives of the SOO. It would not contain any other information required by the Government's solicitation such as description of their technical experience, past performance, subcontracting plan, reps and certs, not to mention a proposed Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) that they would propose to describe how the performance of the PWS will be measured and monitored.

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No, they are not one in the same. As Vern stated, a proposed PWS is not a proposal. A PWS describes the offeror's planned approach to meeting the objectives of the SOO. It would not contain any other information required by the Government's solicitation such as description of their technical experience, past performance, subcontracting plan, reps and certs, not to mention a proposed Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) that they would propose to describe how the performance of the PWS will be measured and monitored.

To Vbus: So you would agree with Vern that the PWS is a portion or part of the entire Proposal, right? This is an important distinction I want to get right because my agency is contemplating issuing a proposal with instructions such as this: "the proposal page limitation is 35 pages. The PWS has no page limitation." My question is, if the PWS is part of the proposal, not a separate document, then these page limitation instructions will make no sense.

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I agree with Vern that the PWS is only one part of the entire proposal.

As for page limits, that should be dictated by the nature of your acquisition. If this is a simplified acquisition and you expect the PWS to be 2 pages long, then maybe 35 pages overall is ample. I suspect an advocate for PBA would tell you not to impose page limits on an offeror's proposal when they are submitting a PWS to a Government's SOO. An offeror's PWS may be very simple or very complex and a page limit may stifle an innovative approach. The size of the proposed QASP may also be dictated by that offeror's approach.

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Guest Vern Edwards
No, they are not one in the same. As Vern stated, a proposed PWS is not a proposal. A PWS describes the offeror's planned approach to meeting the objectives of the SOO. It would not contain any other information required by the Government's solicitation such as description of their technical experience, past performance, subcontracting plan, reps and certs, not to mention a proposed Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) that they would propose to describe how the performance of the PWS will be measured and monitored.

Vbus:

I did not say that the proposed PWS is not a proposal. I said exactly the opposite. An RFP can require offerors to submit a QASP. See FAR 37.604. It can require the QASP as part of the proposal or as just a recommendation to the government.

govt2310:

If you use page limits you should be very clear about what they apply to. Some agencies apply page limits to some parts of a proposal but not to others.

Frankly, if your questions reflects the expertise of your office, I strongly recommend against using the SOO method. Successful use of the SOO method requires a sophisticated customer and sophisticated offerors. The method was first developed by the Air Force for use in major system acquisitions and by companies like Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman. It is not something to be used by companies that do not have that level of expertise. I do not mean that to be insulting, just realistic.

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Vbus:

I did not say that the proposed PWS is not a proposal. I said exactly the opposite. An RFP can require offerors to submit a QASP. See FAR 37.604. It can require the QASP as part of the proposal or as just a recommendation to the government.

Vern, I should have been more precise. I agree that a PWS is a "proposal" in that it is something proposed by an offeror to be accepted by the Government. I do not believe that a PWS can represent a full proposal by an offeror when other documentation would be necessary to be submitted as well in order for a proposal to be acceptable, such as other submission requirements of the RFP to be evaluated, subcontracting plan, information other than cost and price data, etc. I think we are in agreement that a PWS is something proposed by the offeror, but that it is only one part of the offeror's full proposal.

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A PWS is a SOW for Performance-Based Acquisitions (PBA). PBAs are structured around the desired results/objectives, as opposed to the "how". In other words, the Government doesn't (or at least shouldn't in PBA) attempt to tell the KTR the step-by-step guidance on how to meet the objectives - it leaves the approach up to the KTR - after all, they are the SME most of the time.

In the PBA world, and within the services arena, agencies have a choice to deploy either a SOO or a PWS to industry. When you read FAR Part 37, and what is included in each, there are naturally some differences. One of the differences is that a PWS includes performance standards - in other words, "to what level" the Government's performance objectives/desired results must be met. A SOO includes the performance objectives/desired results, but does not include these performance standards. Instead, the KTR would propose performance standards that it feels are comensurate with the nature of the requirement - risk and other factors considered. They do this by submitting a PWS as part of their proposal. Now, FAR 37.601(:lol: states that Performance-based contracts for services "shall" (the imperative) include a PWS. However, the PWS is not the "how" the KTR intends to meet the objectives and standards specified in the PWS. By sheer definition of PWS and PBA in FAR 2.101, a PWS should never include the "how".

Some PCO's want to know the "how" as well though. I've seen it as a separate volume requirement. They want to evaluate it. They want to attach it to Section J and then (here it gets tricky) enforce it once the contract gets awarded.

They feel that if they made an award decision based upon the best value continuum - namely trade-offs - and they award a contract to a KTR based upon (among other factors) that KTR's "how", then that award decision is invalidated if the KTR possesses the agility to freelance after the award is distributed. That said, if we stick to the spirit of PBA after the award is made, then the Government shouldn't focus on the how - only on if the true objectives and performance standards of the contract are being met. Because if the Government has done a good job up front in identifying the true objectives, then, as long as they are being met at the standards identified, it shouldn't matter the approach the KTR is taking.

I've seen the Government manage what is called a FFP as if it were a LH contract - simply because the contractor proposed an approach that included a certain amount of people/labor cats....and now the Government is holding them to it, but still calling it a FFP PBA.

I think I may be muddying the waters though.....sorry, I'm new to the blog...(smile)

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Guest Vern Edwards
Some PCO's want to know the "how" as well though. I've seen it as a separate volume requirement. They want to evaluate it. They want to attach it to Section J and then (here it gets tricky) enforce it once the contract gets awarded...

I've seen the Government manage what is called a FFP as if it were a LH contract - simply because the contractor proposed an approach that included a certain amount of people/labor cats....and now the Government is holding them to it, but still calling it a FFP PBA.

The problem that you identify is an old one, which can be traced back to the very beginning of PBA in the late 1970s.

The government is hiring contractors to do work that used to be performed by government personnel. Often, the work is intimately related to the effective performance of the government organization. Much of the government's insistence upon hands-on management reflects the need to fill in gaps in the so-called PWS. The reality is that it is professionally risky and psychologically very difficult for government personnel to "let go" and trust the contractor to do things the right way.

PBA is founded upon two false assumptions: first, that result trumps process, and second, that results are fully specifiable. Process matters, and service contracts are usually incomplete with respect to the specification of results.The continued insistence upon PWS as a dominant theory of service specification is a reflection of the ignorance, lack of intellectual curiosity, and lack of professional imagination on the part of government acquisition policymakers and operations managers.

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The problem that you identify is an old one, which can be traced back to the very beginning of PBA in the late 1970s.

The government is hiring contractors to do work that used to be performed by government personnel. Often, the work is intimately related to the effective performance of the government organization. Much of the government's insistence upon hands-on management reflects the need to fill in gaps in the so-called PWS. The reality is that it is professionally risky and psychologically very difficult for government personnel to "let go" and trust the contractor to do things the right way.

PBA is founded upon two false assumptions: first, that result trumps process, and second, that results are fully specifiable. Process matters, and service contracts are usually incomplete with respect to the specification of results.The continued insistence upon PWS as a dominant theory of service specification is a reflection of the ignorance, lack of intellectual curiosity, and lack of professional imagination on the part of government acquisition policymakers and operations managers.

Thanks for weighing in, Vern.

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