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Vern Edwards' Blog

What Every Intern Must Learn

Posted by Vern Edwards, 16 February 2009 · 1,092 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 · 929 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 · 2,181 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 · 667 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...

A Little Mystery?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 09 January 2009 · 1,173 views

Let's give them something to talk about. A little mystery to figure out. -- Bonnie RaittHere's a little mystery (at least to me) about FAR's implementation of the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA).I. BackgroundSuppose that the government negotiated a $100 million firm-fixed-price contract after obtaining the submission and certification of...

But can we keep them?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 06 January 2009 · 915 views

I recently participated in a conference at which a former senior government official bragged about the bright young people that the government is recruiting into the contracting career field. Here is a story that might give you an idea about what a challenge it is going to be to retain the best of the new recruits.My wife used to manage a contracting shop...

Knowledge is power.

Posted by Vern Edwards, 05 January 2009 · 596 views

The rules of the contracting business can be Byzantine.If you haven't read it already, read the GAO's decision in Pond Security Group Italia, JV, B-400149.3, December 22, 2008. Bob has posted it on the Wifcon home page.The procurement was for security services at U.S. Army bases in Italy. The protester did not follow instructions in the RFP to pro...

Stop making a mess of it!

Posted by Vern Edwards, 29 December 2008 · 811 views

Source selection is a rather straightforward problem, yet some agencies insist upon making a mess of it. They go out of their way to make their lives needlessly difficult when it comes to picking a contractor. Consider the case that I wrote about last Friday. NASA's problem, so beautifully exposed in the Wackenhut decision, is their antiquated approac...

Is no one ever to blame?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 26 December 2008 · 651 views

Every now and then (actually, more often than that) an agency conducts a source selection in a way that stupefies me. Such is the case with NASA's $1.62 billion source selection for protective services at 14 NASA sites, such as the Kennedy Space Center. The contract was to be a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ), fo...

The Role of the Contracting Officer

Posted by Vern Edwards, 23 December 2008 · 5,498 views

Here are some quotes dating from 1950 about the role of the contracting officer, snipped from various board and court decisions and law reviews:From: Penner Installation Corp. v. U.S., 116 Ct.Cl. 550 (1950):Some contracting officers regard themselves as representatives of the [United States], charged with the duty of protecting its interests and of exacti...

The Ideal Contract Specialist

Posted by Vern Edwards, 22 December 2008 · 5,159 views

Sometimes, when I'm teaching a class, and after I've had a couple of days with the students and know them a little, I play a game with myself: I pretend that I've been asked to assemble a small, elite contracting office to do demanding work under pressure. I then look over the students and ask myself which of them I would choose. Here, in no p...

The More Things Change...

Posted by Vern Edwards, 19 December 2008 · 638 views

In a chapter of his new book, Reforms at Risk: What Happens After Major Policy Changes Are Enacted (Princeton University Press, 2008), Associate Professor Eric M. Patashnik of the University of Virginia recounts the tale of the acquisition reforms of the 1990s⎯ the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, the FAR...

Money, Politics, and Public Contracts

Posted by Vern Edwards, 12 December 2008 · 1,253 views

Now that President?Elect Obama has announced his intention to launch a massive public works program to fight the recession, we can look forward to more entries in the perennial debate about whether or not Congress should repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, 40 U.S.C. ? 3141 et seq., 29 C.F.R. Part 5, and FAR 22.403-1 and 22.404.Davis-Bacon, enacted in 1931 and app...

What About A Contracting Think Tank?

Posted by Vern Edwards, 10 December 2008 · 1,000 views

How about a contracting think tank?I recently sat on a panel with Professor Emeritus Ralph Nash and Associate Professor Steve Schooner of The George Washington University Law School, and Paul Dennett, a former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, to discuss the state of government contract administration. The consensus was that the g...

Mentors and Mentoring: What are we talking about?"

Posted by Vern Edwards, 09 December 2008 · 584 views

In my last post I used the terms ?mentor? and ?mentoring.? I tell my students that when they use a word or term they must make sure that they know what it means and what they mean by it. Well, what?s good for the student is good for the teacher. As I read my own post I asked myself: What do I mean by mentor and mentoring? What  does a mentor do? How does...

The Good News and The Bad News

Posted by Vern Edwards, 08 December 2008 · 817 views

Last week, at the 2008 Nash & Cibinic Report Roundtable, several panels addressed the issue of the quality of the acquisition workforce. The good news is that agencies are hiring some first rate interns. That?s also the bad news. We are bringing in some really smart and eager people, but we are not ready for them?to educate and train them and to prepa...

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