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Vern Edwards' Blog

A Cheap, Showy Gesture

Posted by Vern Edwards, 30 October 2009 · 1,248 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 · 935 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 · 1,739 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 · 1,576 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 · 1,200 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 · 889 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 · 934 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 · 9,265 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 · 1,406 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 · 595 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 · 671 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 · 1,057 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 · 1,712 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 · 1,041 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 · 923 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 · 944 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 · 617 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 · 741 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 · 2,555 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 · 607 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...

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