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  1. Vern, this is exactly it. Just replace the lawnmower with medical equipment. I didn't want to get into the weeds on what the stuff does, but it's very commercial and under the SAT. I'm on the same page as you in this discussion, just receiving a lot of pushback. it was competed, all offers are being fairly considered, but a particular brand meets their needs the best. They are great at explaining the brand, but can't give any past performance information on the other brands. So I'm having them answer simple technical questions. Why is this one better? What can it do that others can't? What makes it easier? The big issue I have with them is that they've "used this at X base and it was incredible compared to what we've got now." Their main argument is that it is easy to use, speedy, and never broke down. I'm having a hard time getting an answer to "How do you know these other brands aren't as good?" On paper they are. I believe them that their preferred item is the best based off their preference, and it's suitable to them. The price difference is small, only about $2,000 in total price. So if I can get an answer pertaining to whether or not the other brands are not equal, I can make the award easily. But, if I am able to simply just state that the item is suitable to the user based on their personal experience with the product, I'm all for that as well. I'll make the price tradeoff determination, no problem, the prices are all very similar. The first thing I'm trying to determine is if I'm interpreting the FAR correctly, and I think this discussion is helping, even though there are a few disagreements. But I believe we're on the right track. I figure if I can learn to execute it this one time (which is why I'm asking for advice), I can do it for just about all of their medical equipment and streamline it.
  2. I love that thread- it's one of the discussions that got me into FAR part 13 and simplifying processes. I typically do these comparative evaluations whenever I'm in a Part 13 scenario. However, my bigger concern is that while doing comparative evaluations, my end users struggle with evaluating "quality." They confuse it by saying they've worked with a certain brand before, they know the quality is good, and it's suitable for them. Could you or your technical team (while doing the comparative evaluation) identify a certain brand as more suitable to the user simply because they are more familiar with the product? I'll amend the question a bit here-- let's say they do follow FAR 13.106-2(b)(4) and fairly consider all quotes. We'll argue the 2 best quotes on paper are John Deere (higher priced) and Craftsman (low priced). Let's say the user has used John Deere and Craftsman in the past, but different models of mowers are being offered. The user hated the quality of Craftsman because it constantly needed minor repairs or maintenance (but the repairs/maintenance was free of cost). Can we select John Deere as the most suitable quotation? It's mostly the brand that played a difference. The models offered are different than the models that the user has experience with. Is this allowable? Sorry if I keep moving the goalpost, I'm trying to find a good scenario for the use of this authority.
  3. I quoted FAR Part 13 verbatim, though, so I don't know how it ignores the purpose of it. 13 allows the CO to select an offer "suitable to the user," then look at lower priced quotes other than the brand name, see if there's any value indicators, and determine whether those indicators warrant selecting a different product. I disagree. Look at FAR 12.602(b) -- "For many commercial items, the criteria need not be more detailed than technical (capability of the item offered to meet the agency need), price and past performance. Technical capability may be evaluated by how well the proposed products meet the Government requirement instead of predetermined subfactors. Solicitations for commercial items do not have to contain subfactors for technical capability when the solicitation adequately describes the item’s intended use. A technical evaluation would normally include examination of such things as product literature, product samples (if requested), technical features and warranty provisions." FAR 12.602(c) just says to pick the most advantageous quote and document your rationale, so in a trade-off, you could really simplify your documentation. We described the mower's intended use -- Cut 10 Acres, protect trees. TORO, John Deere, and Craftsman submit quotes with their standard commercial product literature. We evaluate the items on how well they meet our needs. The user argues (subjectively) that John Deere's product accomplishes our requirement better than the others, and is most suitable to them because of [insert any reason related to the technical features the offerors provided and any other reasonable basis]. We have broad discretion of using the technical data offerors provide us. I think what I'm asking here is that you have this discretion if 13.106-2(b)(4), what would be the best way of going about exercising it? Looking at standard commercial data and picking an item? Requesting a brand name or equal item? I'm looking for simplicity.
  4. It's going to get butchered by CO's. "Oh, we have 100% design on construction. This is now commercial." It conflicts with section (1) and contracting officers will take full advantage of that.
  5. I can get behind that. How do suppose it gets fixed? Training is a rough one, the Government "tries" with DAU. I think one big problem with the workforce is you've got two extremes. Ones who don't care and pencil whip everything with LPTA, and the others are "too good" in which they over-analyze and drag out acquisitions when it's unnecessary. So two questions really: How do you fix it? Where do you start? From higher dollar acquisitions down to SAP? Or start from the bottom and work your way up? Or is there a "blanket" solution?
  6. Where does everyone think the problems in federal procurement are coming from? Is it the thick rule book(s)? Is it the lack of delegation to the lowest possible level? Is it the process? Fear of protests? The oversight? Fear of simplifying? Fear of a bad deal? I'm curious to know everyone's opinion. My personal opinion is almost all of the above, but mostly the oversight and fear of protests. It's been pretty rare in my experience that my leadership feared a bad deal. They always fear protests. That being said, my experience isn't large weapons systems or anything extremely complex. I agree that the rules and regulations need to be scrubbed, but I feel that the more important change needs to be in the culture of our leaders (supervisors, chiefs, clearance authorities, etc). Stop being worried about avoiding protest and instead focus on "can we defend this position?" If we can, move forward. If we can't, then press forward.
  7. I'm thinking more along the lines of the $7M simplified acquisition.
  8. Usually our "users" aren't technical experts, just users of the machine. What I'd like to do is describe what I want the item to do as opposed to specific specifications (engine size, speed, etc). "We want to mow 10 acres of Kentucky Bluegrass. The mower must cut near, but not damage trees." So offerors will send us a bunch of items that meet our needs, John Deere being one of them. The customer knows about the quality of John Deere, and for the sake of this requirement, we'll argue that there's a local John Deere maintenance shop nearby. Note that we didn't ask for a brand name product. Would we then be able to say "The user is familiar with John Deere mowers and acknowledge their ease of use. Additionally, they know how to maintain John Deere mowers themselves, so equipment not covered under the warranty could be easily repaired. Additionally, the mower offered by John Deere meets the requirements of the Government because it can be used to mow 10 acres, and contains a guard to protect trees. I've reviewed all other lower priced quotations for value indicators and determine that none exist that warrant consideration to another offeror. Therefore, John Deere's quotation contains the lowest priced brand name product that is suitable to the user." Would that award basis be fair, especially considering we'd never asked for a brand name product in the first place?
  9. That's extremely hard to do when you've got clearances, legal reviews, etc., where you've got to justify every decision you make. There's too many hands on too many acquisitions and in order to do things in a simplified manner, you've got to justify it somehow. I mean, look how much push back I've given, and I'm a front-line CO. Briefing these thought processes to a 30-year branch chief, flight chief, or commander would be nearly a guaranteed stonewall. If I have a regulation to back me, they don't have much of a leg to stand on. I used FAR 12.208 as an example because QCP's are another thing we typically evaluate. But it just enforces the argument that there's not much of a need to evaluate them.
  10. I think you've finally gotten through to me... I was going to say "what about quality assurance plans?" But then I saw FAR 12.208 -- Contracts for commercial items shall rely on contractors’ existing quality assurance systems as a substitute for Government inspection and testing before tender for acceptance unless customary market practices for the commercial item being acquired include in-process inspection. The more I think of it, you're right -- price/past performance will tell you a lot more than some plan or approach.
  11. True. Follow up question, though. Why can't a staffing plan, which could be part of a quality control plan, be incorporated into the contract? My argument is that the technical information lets me know who is likely to both understand and perform the contract. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what folks in here are saying, but why wouldn't something in a quote/proposal be binding? Barring some wordsmithing (i.e, "we'll try to refill a position" or "our goal is to fill a position") why wouldn't those terms be binding?
  12. FAR 13.106-2(b)(4) is an area of interest for me because it seems almost too easy. The problem is, not many people have done it that I'm aware of, and there's not a lot of guidance I can find online. I'm curious to know the execution method. (4) For acquisitions conducted using a method that permits electronic response to the solicitation, the contracting officer may— (i) After preliminary consideration of all quotations or offers, identify from all quotations or offers received one that is suitable to the user, such as the lowest priced brand name product, and quickly screen all lower priced quotations or offers based on readily discernible value indicators, such as past performance, warranty conditions, and maintenance availability Assuming you are using 52.212-2 and leaving the provision as-is (filling in price & technical/quality as the factors), and you're looking at standard product data readily available from vendors, do you basically show quotes to the user and ask "Which one do you want?" and make the award? I'm guessing when it speaks about "lowest priced brand name product" does this assume a brand name or equal requirement? Or can they simply select the brand they think best meets the governments needs? This is interesting to me because it reads as though the Government can just request a brand name "or equal" and at the end of the day, just select the brand name product anyways without having to deal with the nuances of brand name justifications. In summary -- I have two questions. 1. Has anyone selected a product based off the lowest priced brand name when other products were submitted? 2. We all have had users that like a product simply because they like it and have worked with it before. If a user said "I've worked with this brand before, and it's most suitable to me because I know the quality will meet my needs," is that sufficient documentation?
  13. I wholeheartedly agree with this. That's the best way. Yeah, you're right.
  14. I'm saying your staffing plan gives me a decent understanding on whether you're capable of complying with the terms of the contract. If you're going to respond, please don't twist my words.
  15. How would you justify a negative CPARS rating if you didn't evaluate technical in the first place? "There was no plan so, uh, even though they failed to perform, we can't hold them to anything?" Take services out of the equation. Let's say we're looking for a brand name "or equal" product. Are we just going to rely on the contractor to provide an equal product? or should we look at technical data to ensure it does? "I need a fire suppressant system that is compatible with "x brand" suppressant system." I'm not a technically savvy person, but I'd love for the contractor to tell me how and why their system is compatible with the one I have in place. Sell me your product. Tell me why it's the best solution for my problem. You make judgement calls in the commercial world. You may not be a technically savvy person on cell phones. I sure as heck can't tell you everything one brand vs another could do for me. I've definitely never built a cell phone, if we're holding ourselves to Vern's standards. But an iPhone works best for you vs a Galaxy for maybe a variety of reasons. So while you may not be a person who has never built a cell phone, ever, you can look at the technical data, or the phone plans, or the contracts that work best for your situation. So give me a brochure that tells me everything your product can do, and I'll decide whether or not it meets my needs. There's a reason why there is competition in the commercial world. Not everyone goes with iPhone. Not everyone goes with Android. But somehow, they were sold on a particular product. Going services-- not everyone goes T-Mobile. Not everyone goes AT&T. Not everyone goes Verizon. They pick the one that works best for them based off the technical data presented to them. It may not be a narrative, but it's technical data where they make a subjective decision on what works best for them. If you decided to pick your cell phone provider without knowing what you're getting in return besides price, I'd say you're an idiot for signing a contract with them.
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