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  1. ASHBURN, Virginia (September 19, 2018) The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) President Charlie Williams Announces the New NCMA Chief Executive Officer On behalf of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Kraig Conrad, CAE, CTP, as the new NCMA Chief Executive Officer. Kraig will formally take his position on November 1, 2018. Kraig joins NCMA with 20 years of association leadership experience. He most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Risk Managers’ International Ass
  2. Last year, a conversation between Amazon Business and one of the senior leaders in government contract management today was hosted at NCMA’s Government Contract Management Symposium. This session opened many people’s eyes to the technological “disruption” we’re all familiar with in our private lives, but not always in our professional ones. Today, many of us have fully “plugged” ourselves into the digital automation of the modern day. We shop and acquire a whole host of products and services online; stream our music, books, and other forms of entertainment; engage actively in social med
  3. Of all areas in contracting, the one often taken most for granted, yet of vital importance, is that of the prime contractor/subcontractor relationship. We all know how much the requirements, contractual specifications, terms and conditions, and funding on a prime contract flow down the supply chain, but this flowdown doesn’t just happen. Although some may argue it’s as easy as placing clauses into a subcontract, it more complex than that. Subcontracting can exponentially increase the complexity of whatever product or service is to be delivered to the ultimate customer. For all the atten
  4. A key challenge to improving acquisition is defining what good contracting really is—and the proper skill sets necessary for those working within it. There are many different views on this topic that show up in various legislation, course curricula, job descriptions, and a variety of professional certifications across public- and private-sector agencies, firms, and associations. These include large government contractors; Defense Acquisition University; Federal Acquisition Institute; colleges and universities with supply chain, contract management, and business programs; corporate training cri
  5. All of us can probably agree that each year seems to go by faster than the year before. The older we become, the rate at which we age seems to increase. So now, with 2016 upon us, (and without providing a comprehensive listing of new contracting laws, statutes, regulations, personnel changes, or best practices during 2015), perhaps it’s best to simply summarize and reflect on what 2015 might signify regarding acquisition success. Let’s also not use the “R” word even though talking about acquisition reform keeps us blog writers and consultants busy. Some initiatives that began with great fanfa
  6. Embodied within contracting issues today is who is winning awards and who isn’t. Calls for reform start from the premise that those professionals making the awards (1) take too long; (2) don’t understand their business; (3) need more training; (4) aren’t sensitive to private sector concerns; (5) used the wrong selection methodology; (6) won’t take risks; (7) won’t talk to industry; (8) should take advice from communities (program, technical, incumbents, small business, large business, legal, trade groups, etc); (9) should act more commercial; (10) should compete more; (11) should use more pas
  7. (Adapted from Federal Times post dated November 24, 2014.) Acquisition reform discussions are again in full swing. Everyone agrees there is room for improvement in contractor-dependent government services and mission. But no consensus exists on what sort of improvement we need. We know that products and service delivery can take too long, don't always meet intent, and don’t satisfy everyone involved. Thus, as occurs whenever this topic arises, many will recommend solutions involving changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), if not scrapping it altogether. After all, it’s the princi
  8. Odessa, The initiatives "in various stages of development" refer to the trade associations PSC, AIA, NDIA), OMB, the Congress and government agencies again looking at the current acquisition system; policies, regulations, statutes and processes to review how they might improve outcomes. For example, within DoD this takes the form of Better Buying Power 3.0. The Professional Services Council recently issued a report from their Leadership Commission (From Crisis to Opportunity). Other associations have also developed written recommendations and Congress is talking to most significant stakeholde
  9. The most challenging task in Government contracting is contract pricing, which requires contracting officers to award contracts at “fair and reasonable” prices. Pricing is challenging, because it is the most regulated of all Government contracting processes. Firms that want to sell their products and services to the Government often must prepare and submit thick packages of proprietary pricing information, and face potentially serious civil and even criminal sanctions if any of the information is inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated. Government personnel must deconstruct those packages and nego
  10. I recently read an article from a respected source proposing to “blow up” the current acquisition process because it currently takes too long to deliver goods and services and doesn’t provide what everyone needs. While this makes great headlines, generates discussion, and spotlights the concern, it doesn’t constructively solve anything. It’s easy to give sound-bite summaries of problems and solutions, while avoiding the hard analysis necessary to truly understand the issues and the difficult solutions required to address them. A very wise person recently told me that contract managers must po
  11. Lately there has been considerable concern regarding the government’s greater reliance on a minimum acceptable technical standard for performance, thus leaving the remaining selection criteria to low price. The fear is that this is squeezing contractor margins concurrent with a “race to the bottom” in the quality in performance of government programs. While none of us wants the “low-bidder” surgeon performing open-heart surgery on us, is this really the issue? If that standard is defined well enough, the lowest price within that standard will result in a good value for the both parties. If tha
  12. A report was recently issued by the Professional Services Council: “From Crisis to Opportunity: Creating a New Era of Government Efficiency, Innovation, and Performance.” Through their “2013 Leadership Commission,” the report “calls on the government and industry to join forces in pursuing fundamental changes to turn the current fiscal and human capital crises into significant opportunities.” It further “identified critical challenges facing the government and makes actionable recommendations about new approaches to workforce development, incentivizing innovation, developing smart business and
  13. NCMA just completed its World Congress in Nashville, where many contract managers and related professionals came together for learning and interaction. A recurring perspective heard from attendees regarding contracting and the current environment: It is gratifying and reassuring to see so many government and industry attendees present who were able to convince their employers and higher-ups of the value of training and keeping current with trends and thought in today’s environment. In fact, many paid their own way or were in attendance while on furlough, PTO, or annual leave. With all the obst
  14. We all know that government executives drinking champagne from a Las Vegas hot tub during an agency-sponsored conference is bad. Congress and the president were right to react as they did. However, current education and training restrictions go too far. The relatively small savings gained by prohibiting employees from leaving their desks to learn or interact with industry counterparts is miniscule compared to higher contracting costs due to lack of knowledge and understanding. Poorly written or managed contracts and miscommunications ultimately cost taxpayers. Note that protests are up! Our go
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