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Vern Edwards' Blog

Do It Yourself Training

Posted by Vern Edwards, 01 July 2009 · 971 views

Training is costly and hard to do well. You have to pay for a knowledgeable instructor who is good at teaching, a decent classroom, and good instructional materials. You also have to pay for the students to travel. When you have all of that you must cram a lot of material into one or two weeks of day-long classroom sessions for 20 to 30 persons.If you?re...

A Few Good Books

Posted by Vern Edwards, 30 June 2009 · 774 views

I just received a catalog from a prominent publisher of books about contracting. I know that such books are expensive, but these prices are stunning: $559.59 for a treatise on contract costs; $214.00 for a ?guidebook?; $92.00 for a book about default termination; $543.00 for a treatise about negotiation and sealed bidding. Other publis...

Another Thought About IDIQs

Posted by Vern Edwards, 26 June 2009 · 777 views

Don Mansfield and I discussed my recent blog entry about IDIQ contracts last night, and Don offered an interpretation of the Indefinite-Quantity clause that I want to share. Don suggested a different interpretation of the first paragraph of the Indefinite Quantity clause, FAR 52.216-22. which reads as follows:QUOTE (a) This is an indefinite-quantity contr...

Those Pesky IDIQ Contracts Again

Posted by Vern Edwards, 22 June 2009 · 7,360 views

In a recent thread in the Wifcon discussion forum, a member asked if a task order issued under an Indefinite-Delivery Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract can contain an option that permits extension of the order beyond the contract expiration date. Here is the question:QUOTE [T]he requiring activity wants to put a task order in place that has a base year...

A Little Touch of Harry

Posted by Vern Edwards, 17 June 2009 · 1,195 views

In his June 17 column in Government Executive, Brian Friel asked managers to think about what kind of communicator they are:QUOTE As a manager, what kind of communicator are you? Are you a face-to-face type of person, preferring to have employees stop by your office to touch base? Or are you more of a phone and voicemail boss, managing via your cell phone...


Posted by Vern Edwards, 17 June 2009 · 503 views

In my recent "management fiasco" entry, i reported that the intern retention rate at the organization I visited was only 20 percent. I have been corrected. The rate was 25 percent.I feel so much better. Don't you?

A Management Fiasco in the Making

Posted by Vern Edwards, 16 June 2009 · 587 views

During a recent visit to a federal agency contracting shop, I was told that the retention rate among contracting interns has thus far been twenty percent. Twenty percent! Although the rate is lower than I expected, I am not entirely surprised.I talk to a lot of contracting interns. What strikes me about them is that they are they are well-educated by...

The Files

Posted by Vern Edwards, 08 June 2009 · 872 views

Bureaucracy has been a pejorative term for a long time.QUOTE The terms bureaucrat, bureaucratic, and bureaucracy are clearly invectives. Nobody calls himself a bureaucrat or his own methods of management bureaucratic. These words are always applied with an opprobrious connotation. They always imply a disparaging criticism of persons, institutions, or proc...

When and why should a contracting officer go to a lawyer?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 13 April 2009 · 1,380 views

When and why should a contracting officer go to a lawyer? The way that a contracting person answers that question will tell you what they think about the role and the responsibility of the contracting officer.I often ask contracting personnel in my classes how they would determine what the rule is about this or that. Very often, too often, the answer is:...

Everybody gets a trophy.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 31 March 2009 · 886 views

What if you held a competition and everybody won? Did you have a competition?As reported at Federaltimes.com, GSA finally awarded its "Alliant" small business governmentwide acquisition contract on March 27. (Bob reported this in his blog yesterday.)  The procurement had held up by a protest to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which GSA lost. See...


Posted by Vern Edwards, 25 March 2009 · 762 views

On January 28, 2009, the U. S. Court of Federal Claims awarded Alabama Aircraft Industries, Inc., (formerly Pemco Aeroplex, Inc.) $1,003,288.38 in bid and proposal costs, because of errors committed by the Air Force in the conduct of a source selection for scheduled depot maintenance of KC-135 tanker aircraft. See Alabama Aircraft Industries, Inc.-Bi...

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 16 March 2009 · 806 views

GWU Professor Steve Schooner and his colleague Chris Yukins have written an article that Bob has posted on the Wifcon homepage: Public Procurement: Focus on People, Value for Money and Systematic Integrity, Not Protectionism. In it they say:QUOTE Governments should invest stimulus resources in rebuilding their professional acquisition workforces ⎯ a...

Don't get cynical. Yet.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 05 March 2009 · 532 views

On March 4, the White House Office of the Press Secretary released a memo from the president to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies⎯Subject: Government Contracting. Here are some highlights and my reactions.QUOTE Since 2001, spending on Government contracts has more than doubled, reaching over $500 billion in 2008. During this same...

Fortune favors the bold.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 04 March 2009 · 619 views

On February 18, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum to agencies providing guidance about implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law 111-5. The guidance included the following broad objectives:QUOTE ?    Funds are awarded and distributed in a prompt, fair, and reasonable manner; ?    The recipients...

The "Neutral" Rule and the Evaluation of Experience

Posted by Vern Edwards, 23 February 2009 · 2,066 views

In his February 10 blog entry, Don Acquisition reviewed the history of the so-called "neutral" rule for evaluation of past performance during source selection. I want to continue the examination of that "rule" in terms of the relationship between experience and past performance as evaluation factors.First, the true expression of the "n...

Do you understand what you're buying?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 19 February 2009 · 517 views

A little intellectual curiosity can take you a long way.My first weeks on the job as a contracting intern were very frustrating. I wasn't frustrated by the contracting rules, which in those days were in the Armed Services Procurement Regulation (ASPR). No, what bothered me was that I didn't understand the products and services I was buying.I was h...

What Every Intern Must Learn

Posted by Vern Edwards, 16 February 2009 · 786 views

I teach a lot of interns and there is one thing that I notice about them that bothers me: Most of the ones that I have met do not know how to make effective presentations. When asked to present their position on some matter, they do not make their case in an orderly way. When asked to speak, they speak haltingly and in an inaudible voice and look at the p...

Recommended Reading - Part I

Posted by Vern Edwards, 25 January 2009 · 636 views

Here is an eclectic and idiosyncratic list of some things I found on the internet that may be of interest to my literate and intellectually curious professional readers. All are available free online. If a link doesn't work, Google the title and look through the results. REPORTS/STUDIES? Acquisition in Transition: Workforce Oversight and Mission ? Th...

Still seeking the holy grail: source selection simplification

Posted by Vern Edwards, 19 January 2009 · 1,642 views

The Director of Defense Procurement has launched an initiative to simplify DOD's source selection process. Here is how he explained the intitiative in a recent PowerPoint presentation:QUOTE Problem/Process/End GameProblem Statement: Source selections are getting increasingly more complex, requiring volumes of documentation to justify each selection de...

A Challenge to Contracting

Posted by Vern Edwards, 11 January 2009 · 517 views

Bob posted a report on the homepage last week: The Challenge of Contracting for Large Complex Projects: A Case Study of the Coast Guard's Deepwater Program. It says that when the government hires a contractor to develop a system that is comprised of independent systems that must work together, the job is so complex and entails so much uncertainty and...


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