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Everything posted by robert_antonio

  1. Shortly after we celebrate our country's independence on July 4, 2013, Wifcon.com will end its 15th year on the internet. With much help from the Wifcon.com community, I've raised a growing teenager. When I started, I was 49 and my hair was so thick that I often shouted ouch or some obscenity when I combed it. Wifcon.com has existed in 3 decades and parts of 2 centuries. During that period, I've updated this site for every work day--except for the week or so when I called it quits. I remember the feeling of relief. I thought it was over. However, many of you convinced me to bring it back. Yes,
  2. As we all know, federal agency budgets are being cut. Those cuts will work their way into contracting programs. Of course, that made me think about the abuse of the fixed-price incentive firm target (FPIF) contract. Almost a decade ago, I posted an article I titled The Fixed-Price Incentive Firm Target Contract: Not As Firm As the Name Suggests. The abuse I mention there requires a special skill and an understanding of what can be done with the FPIF. These skills were at their peak in the 1970s. I've always wondered if the skills would be repeated under similar circumstances. Recently,
  3. It was the Fall of 1978 and I was walking down the steps from the contracting office at Rock Island Arsenal. At this point in my contracting journey around the country, I was told that P. L. 95-507 had been signed into law. I was reviewing contracts awarded under the Mandatory Small Business Subcontracting Test which was authorized by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). OFPP conducted the test in response to Recommendation A-48 of the Commission on Government Procurement, which by the way, recommended the creation of an Office of Federal Procurement Policy. So much for history
  4. Over on the Wifcon Forum, a member started a topic called How to find the best places to work. It made me remember how I became involved in contracting as an auditor for the Government Accountability Office (GAO). I've laughed about it many times over the years. When I was hired, GAO had a rotation policy for its new employees (trainees). There were 3 trainee assignments: one for 2-months and two for 3-months within the various GAO divisions and offices. After the trainee assignments, the trainee faced a 1-year assignment. The 1-year assignment was preceded by a meeting in which the trai
  5. Years ago, I had three stories from my life posted on Wifcon.com and they picked up a small following on the internet. Since I usually add something from my life around Christmas to Wifcon.com, I thought I would add one of those three stories. So here is, as it happened: Just Call Me Johnson! In the 1970s, when I first moved to the Washington D. C. area, I lived in Greenbelt, Maryland. Although Greenbelt is actually a small town, it is also one of those "areas" located around Washington that is a larger postal area. Even now, I live in one of those postal areas in Pennsylvania. The Gre
  6. Not long ago, a discussion board user posted a note about a theoretical government negotiator misrepresenting the truth during contract negotiations. The responses were on target. Vern Edwards was succinct and said: "Don't tell a lie!" Napolik said: "I would be . . . concerned with losing my credibility in the contractor's eyes." Now, its time for a story from over 40 years ago. It was my sophomore year in college and it was the night before the final exam in second year Spanish. I didn't learn very much Spanish during that semester. Anyway, our class's resident thief picked a lock, stole the
  7. Some time ago, I received an e-mail from a Wifcon.com user. The user said that Wifcon.com was my legacy to the contracting field. I never intended for Wifcon.com to be my legacy to anything. In July 1998, I wanted to be part of the internet and the first thing that came to mind was "federal contracting." So, I started with daily contracting news and soon began building a portal for federal contracting information. My goal was to build something that people would use, and as I built the site, more and more people used it. Hey, I did it! Today, Wifcon.com is still growing in usage?slowly, of
  8. If you've been in federal contracting for more than 15 minutes, you've probably read or heard about the many contracting laws. When you talk about contracting legislation, you're talking about Congress. When you're talking about Congress, you're talking about its many committees and subcommittees. Committees and subcommittees can do two things: conduct hearings (often raking contracting agencies or contractors over the coals) and introduce contracting legislation. An individual representative or senator can introduce contracting legislation too but often it is done for their constituents to se
  9. Did you recently buy a commercial product or a commercial service for your own use? Did someone then contact you about needing a perfect rating to satisfy headquarters? It made me think about a cost-plus-award-fee rating system that is too generous. This entry isn't about a government system though, it's about a commercial system used by commercial entities. It isn't just a U. S. phenomenon since international firms are using it too. For example, in 2004, I purchased an SUV built by a Japanese manufacturer. After the sale was complete, the salesman explained that the manufacturer would be se
  10. We're under attack--constantly. I plan to write entries, now and then, about different areas of Wifcon.com. Today, I am writing about the registration process, and why it may take a day or two, for your account to be approved on the Discussion Forum. When you register for an account on the Discussion Forum, you may have noticed a delay in your registration process. That is because your request for registration enters a que or waiting area. The que is necessary because of spammers. Between 500 to 1,000 spammers have tried to register. Sometimes, the spammers are individuals. At other times,
  11. When I read Senator Landrieu's comments in the Senate on S. 3190, The Small Business Programs Parity Act of 2010, I couldn't wait to write an unkind comment. Below is an excerpt from her statement. Two recent decisions by the Government Accountability Office misinterpreted Congress's long-standing intent with regard to the operation of the current laws governing these programs. The decisions stated that the HUBZone program had preference over all other small business contracting programs. The decisions were also relied upon in a recent opinion issued by a judge of the Court of Federal Claims,
  12. As many of you know, I was an auditor for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for over 33 years. About 32 years of that was spent reviewing the contracting practices of federal agencies. To enhance my ability to review federal agency contracting practices, I picked up an M. S. in Procurement Management in the 1980s. I wasn't your typical auditor. I had an extensive knowledge base in my field of work―federal contracting―and much of my time was spent with my face in agencies' contract files. How many contact files? In the thousands. How many contracting offices of federal departments and
  13. Well over a year ago, I visited Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world where you pick up an avatar and have your avatar interact with other avatars. You can buy your own land and build a virtual community. Wow, Wifcon.com in vitrual reality! Wow, the Wifcon Lounge! Wow! OK, I tend to get excited about technology (you know about my love for human space flight). So, I test out good ideas. That is why I visited Second Life long ago. I picked up my avatar and began to check things out. However, my avatar was a clumsy walker. It was easier for him to fly so he flew around. He still couldn't f
  14. This morning, I was searching for bid protest decisions from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) and stumbled across two interesting decisions on indirect research and development (IR&D). I remember listening to debates about IR&D in the bowels of the then General Accounting Office (GAO), now the Government Accountability Office. I was a pup back then in the early 1970s. I'm a pup no longer. The decisions involve the phrase--required in the performance of a contract. Apparently, the issue has been controversial for years. On page 5
  15. In 1992, I moved into a new house in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D. C. When the 6-month check-up came to fix any settling issues with the house, a tough-looking guy came to do the work. I told him about my plans to buy a dog the next year. He looked down and said, "I'll never get another dog." He then tearfully told me about the recent death and life of his dog. There he was. This big bruiser with tears running down his cheeks. Now I know what he meant. I'll never get another dog. Ambrose, Wifcon.com's Chief Advisor, died on Thursday morning, February 18, 2010. He was 5 weeks short of
  16. From time to time, I am asked what the AIMH DSJ means on the About Page and Home Page of Wifcon.com. I've never told anyone. Her name was Deborah and we worked together in the late 1980s. In bureaucratese, I was her direct supervisor. Deborah was "larger than life." She was about 5' 11" tall and she always wore high heels. You could hear her voice and laugh from a great distance. She loved her job, she loved her daughter, and she loved her family. Unfortunately, Deborah was given a less than healthy body. Often she was riddled with pain. On her worst days, she had to stay home. On other
  17. As someone who believes that people are the most important part of any organization, it angers me when management unknowingly dehumanizes employees with a term or a title. Terms and titles always seem important to some managements. For example, years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) adopted the term "human capital" as a replacement for "human resources." Many of the new bits of "capital" at GAO felt demeaned by this new term. They didn't want to feel like an entry on a corporation's balance sheet. Other managements caught on to this new term and began referring to their people a
  18. Sometime in your career, you will be faced with a decision that will affect the way you perceive yourself. It may be an immediate career changer or it may be one of those little decisions that help to define your career. You will know it when you encounter it and you will think about it before you take action at least the first time. There will be rules designed to lead you in your decision, but in the end, it will be your decision. Your choice may be as easy as right or wrong or it may be in various shades of gray. The choice may be complex where there are competing interests and each one sou
  19. "We're going to develop a trained, professional workforce." A professional workforce has been a goal of decades worth of commissions, panels, etc. For example, last week before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Secretary of Defense Gates said: "Since the end of World War II, there have been nearly 130 studies on these problems." Secretary Gates went a bit further and noted a list of systemic problems that went beyond the contracting workforce such as: Entrenched attitudes throughout the government are particularly pronounced in the area of acquisition: a risk-averse culture, a litigiou
  20. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, GAO referred to the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) as noncompetitive. GAO also claimed that there was little or no price competition for commercial products under MAS. Over and over again, GAO claimed that MAS prices were lousy. Reports stating so were issued to the House Committee on Government Operations (now the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) whose Chairman was Jack Brooks. In 1984, under the Competition in Contracting Act, Jack Brooks declared MAS contracts as "competitive procedures" and inserted a provision into CICA, which is now at 4
  21. I read bid protests decisions issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Court of Federal Claims (COFC), and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). If I find others, I read them too. One thing that irritates me is [deleted]. I didn't delete anything vulgar. I "redacted" something. Those who redact claim it is used to prevent the disclosure of information that is confidential or sensitive. Those who see the [deleted] repeatedly have a hard time reading decisions. I'm against the disclosure of information that would compromise a firm's position in the competitive mark
  22. This is my personal blog. Where the Wifcon Blog presents current news items for your review, this blog will present my thoughts on issues dealing with people, policies, and processes in the contracting world. People I don't believe contracting problems are unique to the United States. In fact, I believe that you will see the same or similar problems around our world. People are people. Look for entries dealing with the human side of contracting. Policies I'm disappointed that Congress writes contracting laws. Its bad enough that they know little about contracting. Its even worse when
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