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Vern Edwards' Blog



The End of Incentives?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 01 December 2009 · 3,784 views

On October 14, the FAR councils published an interim rule about incentive contracts. (FAC 2005-37, 74 FR 52858.) FAR 16.401(d) now requires a determination and findings signed by the head of the contracting activity (HCA) before using any incentive contract. Given the bureaucratic hassle of processing such a formal document, I think we might reasonably ex...


Impotent Incrementalism

Posted by Vern Edwards, 24 November 2009 · 908 views

Why does anyone think that a long-standing administrative problem can be solved by writing reports, memos, and regulations? In a report issued in September, GAO 09-921, Extent of Federal Spending under Cost-Reimbursement Contracts Unclear and Key Controls Not Always Used, the GAO made the following recommendation to the Office of Federal Procurement Polic...


The Bean Counter Mentality

Posted by Vern Edwards, 04 November 2009 · 1,356 views

Warning: This is going to be cranky.In testimony before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, John Hutton of the GAO said that DOD had to do a better job of tracking contracts. Specifically, he said that DOD had to do a better job of keeping track of "the number of personnel employed on each contract in Iraq and Afghanistan....


A Cheap, Showy Gesture

Posted by Vern Edwards, 30 October 2009 · 1,551 views

In a memo released today and addressed to Chief Acquisition Officers and Senior Procurement Executives, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued "guidelines" to agencies about how to increase the use of competition and use fewer cost-reimbursement and time-and-materials/labor-hour contracts. Honestly, you have to wonder.The memo begins by r...


Shortsighted Supervisors

Posted by Vern Edwards, 23 August 2009 · 1,133 views

Anyone who has conducted onsite training is familiar with the scenario. A student's supervisor lets her attend a training course, but demands that she come into the office before and after class to get a solicitation or a contract modification "out of the door." Sometimes the supervisor pulls the student out of class to attend a meeting or a t...


Can you explain yourself?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 17 August 2009 · 2,144 views

In many places, the Federal Acquisition Regulation tells contracting officers to document their conclusions about this or that. The classic example is the requirement in 15.406-3(a)(11) to document the fairness and reasonableness of the contract price. See also FAR 16.103((d):QUOTE Each contract file shall include documentation to show why the particular...


Thinking About The Tool

Posted by Vern Edwards, 16 July 2009 · 1,894 views

"Automated" contract writing systems have been around for a long time. I recall early versions, like the Air Force's "AMIS" system, being in use since the late 1970s or early 1980s.DOD's Standard Procurement System (SPS), Procurement Desktop Defense or PD2, has been in use for over a decade and is now in version 4.2. I have never h...


Do It Yourself Training

Posted by Vern Edwards, 01 July 2009 · 1,446 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 · 1,060 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 · 1,144 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 · 12,840 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 · 1,748 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...


Correction

Posted by Vern Edwards, 17 June 2009 · 729 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 · 823 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 · 1,290 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 · 2,096 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 · 1,235 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...


Malpractice?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 25 March 2009 · 1,142 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 · 1,137 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 · 750 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...