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Vern Edwards

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Everything posted by Vern Edwards

  1. @Don MansfieldBirds have behaviors, not rules. The author of your article is confused. If birds were people they would ask for definitions of "hit," "neighbor," and "obstacle." The problem in acquisition is that it is a complex adaptive system on which Congress and policymakers have tried to impose hard rules. "Consider price before when selecting a contractor" is a simple rule. Now look at FAR Subparts 15.4 and 31.2. Congress and the policymakers have applied complicated thinking to a complex adaptive system, writing generally strict rules that lead the system operators into maladaptive behavior, which is why the system often does not perform satisfactorily. Think JEDI. The problem is how to manage complex adaptivity without writing complicated rules, which make the system maladaped.
  2. @Don MansfieldFAR 15.304(c)(1)(i), "Price or cost to the Government shall be evaluated in every source selection." But I take issue with the premise that complex adaptive systems have simple "rules" in the sense of commands.
  3. @WifWafI have just found and ordered a book written by General Dempsey and published last year: No Time for Spectators: The Lessons That Mattered Most from West Point to the West Wing (2020).
  4. @WifWafThanks, WifWaf! I've download the paper, and I'm going to buy the books! I really appreciate the input. Vern
  5. As I recall, questions have been posted in the past about when a new procurement statute applies to contracting operations? When enacted or when the FAR implementation is promulgated in a Federal Acquisition Circular or through a FAR deviation? In a new decision on a sustained protest posted to the Wifcon home page, the GAO addresses that issue at some length, citing the Supreme Court. And while the decision does not answer all questions, it is essential reading for contracting officers. See InfoPoint LLC, B-419856, Aug. 27, 2021. Here is an excerpt: The discussion goes on for a couple of pages and becomes complicated. In my opinion it's a must-read.
  6. Deleted. It's hypothetical. I should have asked for the data item description.
  7. If I were the CO I wouldn't terminate for default. A T-for-D settlement of a cost-reimbursement contract is too generous to the contractor. Instead, I would send the contractor a claim for breach damages (assuming I could show them), write a final decision, and send the contractor a bill. If necessary I would recover through offset against other contracts. And then there's the CPARS.
  8. Addendum to my last post. The phrase "period of performance" has been used in government contracts since at least the middle of the 19th Century. The earliest case to mention it was an 1875 decision of the U.S. Court of Claims. The phrase has been used rather indiscriminately in supply contracts, service contracts, and construction contracts. It has appeared in 420 Court of Federal Claims (and predecessors) decisions, 1,634 board of contract appeal decisions, and 1,094 GAO decisions. It appears in 18 places in the United State Code, including nine places in Title 10, but nowhere in Title 41. It appears in 298 places in the Code of Federal Regulations. It appears in the FAR itself 41 times, but is not defined. It appears in the entire FAR System (FAR + supps) 121 times, but is not defined in any of the FAR supplements. If you look it up in the online DAU Glossary of Defense Acquisition Terms and Acronyms the entry reads, "See also fiscal year." That's it. There is no entry for it in the recently released 5th edition of The Government Contracts Reference Book. The term does not appear in Black's Law Dictionary. In my opinion it is closer to jargon than to a term of art, because usage is inconsistent.
  9. @here_2_helpKeep in mind that the following comments are made in the context of this: Now, here's your question: The purpose of a "period of performance" is not "to signal contract completion to the parties." The purpose of a "period of performance" is to specify the period of time within which the contractor must perform and complete the work it has promised to do. The principal contract performance requirements must be specified in contract line items. There must be a separate contract line item or subline item for each contract "deliverable," and each line item must have a "separate delivery schedule, destination, period of performance, or place of performance." See FAR 4.1001, 4.1003(d), Subpart 11.4, 14.201-2(f), and 15.204-2(f). Any contract that has more than one line item must have more than one period of performance, delivery schedule, or completion date, even if all the dates are the same. There really is no such thing as a "contract period of performance," even though FAR uses that phrase in three places. (See FAR 11.501, 16.401, and 16.504). Contracts have line item and subline item periods of performance. But contracts impose other obligations on the parties in addition to those specified in the contract line items. Many contract clauses impose obligations that continue in effect for years after the expiration of line item periods of performance. Here's one you'll know, from FAR 52.215-2, Audit and Records—Negotiation (JUN 2020): That obligation remains in effect for years after the end of the period of performance and final payment. A warranty on a roof installed under a construction contract may be in effect for as long as 20 years after completion and acceptance of the work and final payment. A conntract is not "over" as long as any obligation has not been discharged by performance, expiration, mutual agreement, or termination. See Restatement of the Law, Contracts, Second § 235, to which I referred in my first response to you. Here it is again: Here is an accompanying comment in the Restatement: The Government bears such obligations, as well. A contractor may file a claim at any time within six years of its accrual, and a contracting officer is obligated to make a final decision on such claims within a specified time period thereafter. See FAR 33.206 and 52.233-1. A claim might come in years after the end of the period of performance of a line item from which it arises. In the case you described in your opening post, you spoke of a data item listed in a Contract Data Requirements List (CDRL), DD Form 1423. If that CDRL was a DOD contract exhibit, then it was identified in a line item. The CDRL form is a convenience, because each data item is a separate deliverable with its own delivery date(s). It eliminates the necessity of creating what might otherwise be a long list of contract line items. It is not unusual for data items to be deliverable after the end of the period of performance of the work that generated the data, specified in a different line item. You didn't say what the data item was. It could have been a mere status report or crucially important technical data. To say that the contract is "over" before that and other continuing obligations have been discharged by performance, mutual agreement, termination, or expiration, is to misunderstand the concepts of "period of performance" and contractual obligation. The regulations and our "profession" are very careless with concepts and terminology, sloppy even, and goodness knows we don't educate newbies well. But somehow, here_2_help, knowing you, I suspect that you already knew all this, but wanted to see something posted in which some independent source confirmed it, perhaps for the benefit of some clueless third party. Please forgive any typos in this post. It's long and I'm tired. Vern
  10. @here_2_helpI'll answer your question tomorrow. The explanation will be long, and I want to write it on a better platform than this one and then paste it in. Stand by. Vern
  11. Joel: I've been thinking about you in Mobile. Everything okay? Vern
  12. Who knows? This is not the appropriate place for you to come for advice about such a problem. No one here can give you sound advice, except to say, Contact an attorney.
  13. From my point of view the contract is over. Wrong. The contract is not over until all parties have been discharged. The "period of performance" is only one term of a contract. See Restatement of the Law, Second, Contracts § 235: It ain't over until all of it is over. If your statement really reflects your point of view, then you don't understand the concept of "period of performance." Most COs don't, either. Nor do many agency lawyers. FAR neither defines nor explains the concept, probably because it's not a textbook, and few people think beyond the FAR. As for what happens if you breach, ask the other party. Depending on what that CDRL item is, failure to deliver as required might be very costly.
  14. It depends on how the option is written.
  15. I can think of many instances in which it makes no sense to evaluate price (as opposed to estimated cost) in complex acquisitions. What we really need is a change to the requirement in FAR 15.304(c)(1)(i) to evaluate price in "every" source selection. We need freedom to use qualifications-based contractor selection, with one-on-one negotiation of contract terms, including price, with the prospective selectee. There are many kinds of acquisitions in which head-to-head price competition is absurd. The idea of seeking price competition in every competitive negotiated acquisition through solicitation of competitively-priced proposals is an outdated 19th Century holdover. Even the new FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii) exception presumes such price competition for task orders. It is a needlessly costly procedure.
  16. I do not think it's intrinsically ambiguous. It seems ambiguous only in light of what we know from extrinsic texts, i.e., the FAR. Look, the statute expressly says: The statute refers to "delivery order contracts" six times. In order to insist that under FAR the exception applies only to task order contracts (services) and not to delivery order contracts (supplies) you have to ignore part of the plain language of the statute, all on the basis of only one word. Good luck with that kind of argument, but feel free to insist.
  17. @joel hoffmanHere is what I said: I did not say exclusively to contracts for services, but that is probably what I meant at the time, because I was quoting from FAR 15.304, and in FAR services are generally distinguished from supplies. But here is the statute, PL 114-328, Sec. 825, Why assume that "same or similar services" in the statute refers to services as used in the FAR? (FAR does not define "services," only "service contracts.") Congress does not always adhere to FAR terminology (e.g., "property" instead of "supplies"). What if, reading Sec. 825 as a whole pursuant to the Whole-Text Canon, and applying the Harmonious-Reading Canon, a court were to interpret "same or similar services" as including the "service" of delivering property (supplies) on order? This kind of thing is a matter for lawyers to argue and judges to decide in accordance with the canons of interpretation. A CO reading FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii) and trying to decide whether it could be applied to acquisitions for delivery-order contracts should make an interpretation and justify it. If the CO thinks the FAR is ambiguous, and so cannot decide, they should ask for a legal opinion as to its proper interpretation. The CO should not say that the FAR is ambiguous or conflicting and then assert that FAR 1.102(d) grants them the discretion to decide as they see fit. Make sense?
  18. @joel hoffmanIf by "Yes, it does" you mean that it becomes a matter of agency discretion pursuant to FAR 1.102(d), then I disagree with you, as should be apparent from my last post. The statute is not ambiguous about its application to delivery order contracts.
  19. I don't. When FAR appears to be conflicted, I think the resolution is a matter of statutory and regulatory interpretation, subject to the canons of interpretation. See Scalia and Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012), § 27, Harmonious-Reading Canon; § 28, General/Specific Canon; and § 29, Irreconcilability Canon. If an agency thinks the FAR is ambiguous or conflicted and decides to proceed based on FAR 1.102(d), treating the matter as one of discretion, and if the agency's action is challenged in court, the court will interpret the regulation in accordance with the canons. It will not treat the matter as one of discretion granted by FAR 1.102(d) or 1.102-4(e). BTW, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit cited Reading Law in an opinion it issued this week, a link to which was posted on the Wifcon home page. It has been cited in 1,222 Federal court cases overall and in 618 appellate court cases.
  20. What do you mean when you say you are negotiating a "change in scope"? If this "change" adds new work to the contract, then the cost of preparing a proposal is bid and proposal cost. Read the definition in FAR 31.205-18. If you when you say "change in scope," you're actually negotiating the cost of a within-scope change, then the cost of preparing and negotiating a request for equitable adjustment is an allowable part of the cost of the change. So which is it? Are you negotiating an out of scope addition of work to the contract or an equitable adjustment following a within-scope change?
  21. @C CulhamDon't be hung up. Do what I do. When a reg doesn't makes sense to me—there's no official explanation and no case law interpretation—I decide what I want it to mean, what works in my circumstances. Then I construct an argument that supports my interpretation and "ride, boldly ride" seeking for El Dorado. Would be likely = I think so, because they didn't give me any reason to think otherwise. Easy, peasy.
  22. @C CulhamSee FAR 16.504(a). An IDIQ contract must include a minimum and a maximum quantity, which may be expressed as a dollar amount. The amounts of the minimum and the maximum may be established in any reasonable way, and need not be the product of quantity times price. Now see PL 114-328, Sec. 825 and 10 USC 2305(a)(3)(D). The statute and FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii) eliminate the need to establish price reasonableness at the time of contract award. Price reasonableness is determined for each task order. But in order to declare that an offeror is a "qualifying offeror," the CO must first determine that there is no reason to believe that it would be likely to offer other than fair and reasonable pricing. See the statute, 10 U.S.C. 2305(a)(3)(D), and the definition of "qualifying offeror" in FAR 2.101. Note that FAR FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii)(A)(2) applies the new rule to contracts for services. It makes sense to eliminate advance pricing for IIDIQ contracts for services under which each task order will specify a different effort. This also eliminates the need to establish hourly labor rates for future pricing purposes. If only the law and the FAR has been written to require award to a reasonable number of offerors, instead of to "each and all qualifying offerors."
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