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Matthew Fleharty

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  1. @Specialist123 "Contractor slipped something into"... One problem I see in this profession is a lack of reciprocity. If an offeror missed a part of our lengthy, often convoluted RFPs we wouldn't say that we "slipped a requirement in" - we'd say the contractor failed to read the whole RFP and respond properly. RFPs are always imperfect so when an offeror responded with a caveat, it's framed as trying to pull a fast one instead of detailing what they're either able or willing to do?! Why isn't the government equally responsible for reading every word that comes back in a proposal? This is a global communications contract and it seems like the government and the contractor didn't even talk about what was requested and what was proposed to ensure both parties were on the same page. That is no way to do business.
  2. We should not conflate advances in AI broadly (or in other domains) with advances in AI specifically related to government contracting - AI advancements requires effort and investment. Effort and investments usually follow the market - Industry is aware of the opportunity costs of their efforts and capital...what's the business case for pursuing AI in the government contracting field when there are likely considerably more lucrative opportunities available? I think the market for a government contracting AI solution is quite small (we can barely scrounge together the pocket change out of the DoD budget to pay for CON-IT). And even if we do find the money, I have used enough government specific software to know that, unfortunately, we often don't end up with great solutions (and we certainly do not sustain them well). All that said, I would love to be proven wrong by demonstrated capabilities, but most of what I've seen relative to AI applications to government contracting is either hope or hype.
  3. The former is possible, I would not resort to the latter.
  4. @Jamaal Valentine The search for any universal truth is beyond my expertise and contexts differ from situation to situation. Professionals need to be comfortable thinking through a situation for themselves and responding accordingly. What you're asking me for is a "cut and paste" approach and that doesn't exist. What I did in one situation likely won't work in other situations. Assess the environment, think things through, and do your best. You may think that's a dodge - I think that's reality. I will provide one example from my experiences to illustrate: when I had the opportunity to lead a contracting squadron, we went beyond the required DAU curriculum and CLPs. One way we did this was we brought the FAR Bootcamp and Source Selection Bootcamp there so both our less experienced and more experienced individuals could experience some robust professional development. Even though many of them probably didn't appreciate the challenge while they were in the midst of it, after it was over and they realized how much they learned they were (mostly) grateful for the opportunity. There was no requirement for those Bootcamps - but I personally felt an obligation to take care of our team and I felt that included their professional development. Would I take that same approach next time I have the opportunity to command? Maybe or maybe not - if the people in the next squadron have already been through the Bootcamps merely recycling that action would not be the right thing to do. I'll have to assess the situation, think about it, and make the best decision I can when I get there. You and others will have to do the same with the situations you face - best of luck.
  5. @Jamaal Valentine I think you’re taking my words out of context (it’s telling that you only quoted half of my statement in that post) - I’m not arguing that individuals disobey rules and regulations. My comments were in response to what seemed like a notion that one should simply throw in the towel on encouraging professional development because officials have reduced the certification standards. Recommend you go back and read the entire conversation so you have the complete context.
  6. To anyone reading this, that does not mean you have to follow blindly - if what senior officials want or value is wrong, don’t just give it to them - be bold enough to still do the right thing. Set higher professional standards at your level and lead those around you - I know from experience that many are eager for leadership that cares about them and will strive for more.
  7. Have you considered that systems can debase professional knowledge and standards? Consider your example of CLS - those who only utilize it rarely if ever have to crack open the FAR to read, understand, and apply solicitation/clause prescriptions. One day those individuals who have only used CLS will be in charge of writing future solicitation/clause prescriptions - how effective will they be when their only experience is answering "simplified" questions from CLS? Those placing too much of their faith in technology as their savior will be the flightless birds, not those who make the effort to develop their professional competency.
  8. @WifWaf I agree - we should find joy in learning Let’s not kid ourselves either - sometimes learning is difficult. But we shouldn’t shy away from learning when it is tough - in fact, that’s probably a sign we should embrace it because that’s likely the type of learning we need to do to grow.
  9. A first step towards what? AI clause generation? CLS has been around since I entered the career field in 2009 and is not much better now than it was then. It's interesting watching your comments pivot - previously you mentioned you could write a contract in mere minutes, but when I explained that CLS alone takes almost an hour, you merely claim that eventually "it will save time for most CO's moving forward." I think that is wishful thinking (especially because there is no explanation of how that will happen - what is this "more appropriate way to input more nuance"?). It's a shame to think that the systems will save us - they won't - the path to professionalism in this career field is through self-study and hard work. No contract writing system can substitute for professional competence. Admiral Rickover once said "Organizations don't get things done. Plans and programs don't get things done. Only people get things done. Organizations, plans, and programs either help or hinder people." I have seen good, hardworking professionals overcoming bad plans, programs, and systems - what I have not seen are individuals who are the opposite do well even with good plans, programs, and systems. You can focus on magic wands if you like - but I think our profession would be better off if we spent more resources on mentoring and educating people.
  10. Have you used the Clause Logic System (CLS)? There is nothing "AI" or automated about it - CLS merely generates clauses based on answers to questions from users - and even that it does poorly. I saw a report that in a single month, thousands of clauses generated by CLS were deleted because the user determined they did not apply. It clearly cannot teach itself to correct its mistakes. Further, CLS is not "fast" - it takes considerably more time than mere minutes. I sat with users going through CLS's required question and answer process numerous times. For even a simple commodity contract, if my memory serves me correctly, CLS required over 60 questions that took an experienced user over an hour to answer - I must note, this process would have been faster if users were allowed to use their professional judgment instead and choose clauses outside of CLS. Fast and easy? CLS is anything but.
  11. The desire for data and statistics too often gets in the way of sound thinking/reasoning. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Admiral Rickover (emphasis added): "Organizations don't get things done. Plans and programs don't get things done. Only people get things done. Organizations, plans, and programs either help or hinder people." To add further context to the last sentence of Adm Rickover's quote, I have seen situations where good people can overcome bad organizations, plans, and processes and, conversely, I have seen situations where bad people cannot succeed despite good organizations, plans, and processes.
  12. I do not have the article you requested, but other essential reading on this topic is Vern's Briefing Paper "A Primer on Source Selection Planning: Evaluation Factors and Rating Methods." Fortunately, he has provided it to WIFCON at the following link: https://wifcon.com/articles/BP17-8_wbox.pdf Since you don't cite the Nash & Cibinic Report article you were reading, if it wasn't "Retreating from Reform: We have Met the Enemy, and He is Us!" I would recommend it as well for an example of what not to do, also available on WIFCON here: https://www.wifcon.com/articles/The Nash & Cibinic Report (June 2022).pdf Frankly, anything Vern writes and generously provides freely to WIFCON is worth the time to read and consider. Browse through the articles at the following link to find more: https://wifcon.com/analysis.htm
  13. Such a system depends on getting the requisite data to feed into the AI for the recommendation/decision. Do you think government contractors - particularly the traditional defense contractors (e.g. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, NG, etc.) - would be willing to provide the requisite data for such a system to work (accurately)? Or do you think the government already has the requisite data and we're just not using it because we don't have the right AI technology to feed it through?
  14. To me, the examples you provide are not routine, but require professional judgment appropriate to the specific acquisition situation. For example, whether something is or is not a FAR compliance issue is often not binary or clear - it requires reading and thinking through the issue(s). For an example of how difficult what you propose to accomplish with computers/algorithms/magic wands, see the woefully inadequate and inaccurate DoD Clause Logic System.
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