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I have a question for discussion: Do your offices work to ensure compliance with the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and other Free Trade Agreements? I am brand new to contracting and I have asked my colleagues about this, but have generally just received blank stares and/or mumbled responses.

Thoughts?

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I am brand new to contracting and I have asked my colleagues about this, but have generally just received blank stares and/or mumbled responses.

That's funny, and perhaps ironic. You'll get that reaction about a great many things in the contracting. Some things don't need much tending to. Either the required clauses or agency templates have already addressed it, or it may not apply to your type of contracting. Either way, there are a great number of things that you won't have to look at each and every time you draft a solicitation or administer a contract. But definitely look into it. It may be that your shop is overlooking something. Don't be surprised though if you find that you are in 100% compliance and no one in the shop is doing anything at all to make sure you stay that way.

I love new people to the profession. So serious. Hey Contracting: Do you think Joe Montana was a great quarterback because he knew the rulebook better than all the other players? Consider that as you learn the profession, it will help you tremendously.

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Traipse,

I agree in general with your answer to the original question. However, I think the analogy provided at the end gives the wrong impression. It implies that you can be great without knowing how to play the game or knowing the rules. In sports, this might be true, but in our field it's not. As contracting professionals, we do need to know the rules, or at least where to go look to find the rules and more importantly, how to interpret those rules. Only then can you know what flexibilities you have, which are many, to get the job done. Once you have this knowledge, then you can apply your judgment in order to make decisions which are in the best interests of the Government while also fair and equitable to the contractors.

This doesn't exclude the fact that you need to take into account organizational politics or diplomacy when starting out, e.g. you can't just walk into your boss's office and say "You're wrong because you don't know the rules."

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Guest Vern Edwards
I have a question for discussion: Do your offices work to ensure compliance with the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and other Free Trade Agreements? I am brand new to contracting and I have asked my colleagues about this, but have generally just received blank stares and/or mumbled responses.

Thoughts?

You got blank stares because compliance does not require much in the way of special proactivity. See FAR 25.408.

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Traipse: First paragraph was great. Second paragraph, not so great. Joe Montana's knowledge of the rule book was not the sole factor that contributed to his greatness as a quarterback, but he sure couldn't have become great without that knowledge. I also look forward to that future time when I can become less "serious" about contracting.

FSCO: Spot on, thank you.

Vern: Thanks for the excellent FAR reference.

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A main trick with TAA (Trade Agreements Act) is how much are you buying? If your contracting activity is in the supply business (say managing federal supply schedule contracts or DLA) you are going to worry about TAA quite a bit. If you are just buying onsies and towsies of say office supplies once in awhile, it is not likely that you are crossing over the TAA thresholds. And if you buy through GSA, they have already complied (in theory) with TAA, as applicable. I myself have only had one position where TAA was ever applicable, and it was with the GSA Global Supply program (buying the goods in bulk that you get through the GSA supply catalog).

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