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Vern Edwards

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Everything posted by Vern Edwards

  1. I would not accept that as a general proposition. A labor rate is not realistic just because the offeror is currently paying it. The offeror might have a high turnover rate because it is too low to ensure that the offeror can maintain a stable workforce that will produce acceptable results on time. it may be realistic, or it may be unrealistically low.
  2. Realism is usually a matter of whether a price or cost that the contractor proposes reflects what it will really have to pay to get the job done. Reasonableness is a matter of whether a price or cost is an amount the government should be willing to pay for what it expects to receive.
  3. FAR 31.201-3 discusses the reasonableness of a cost. FAR 31.205-6 discusses the allowability of a cost. Reasonableness is an element of allowability. 31.205-6 Compensation for personal services.
  4. I think that if an agency were to state in the solicitation that it was going to cap the number of awards, such that some "qualifying offerors" would not receive a contract, the GAO or COFC might find a post-award protest to be untimely. Not sure. Ordinarily, I don't that there is any question that an agency can cap the number of awards. The issue is whether they can do that if the CO invokes FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii)(A)(3). In any case, neither of the protests cited by ji20874 appear to have been based on FAR 15.304(c)(1)(ii)(A)(3), unless I missed it.
  5. Patrick, I'm not sure what "supporting data" means. If it means internal data provided by the offeror, then I don't think it's enough to be the basis for a determination of price reasonableness. That was one of the great lessons-learned from the great spare parts pricing scandal of the mid-1980s, which resulted in a wholesale revision of pricing guidance in 1987. That's why incurred costs are not presumed to be reasonable. See FAR 31.201-3(a). Ultimately, determinations of price reasonableness must be based on comparisons to market prices, prices obtained through competition, or some other standard of reasonableness. See FAR 15.404-1(b)(2) and the Contract Pricing Reference Guides, Vol. 1.
  6. Which sometimes are, in effect, new rules. Consider the GAO's interpretations of the requirement for discussions in source selection since it was first enacted as part of Public Law 87-653, on September 10, 1962, and read: From that short statutory passage we have gotten GAO and COFC interpretations and applications in hundreds of protest decisions and have ended up (so far) with FAR 15.306 and still more protest decisions. Emergent behavior in a complex adaptive system.
  7. The rates may in fact be fair and reasonable, but that conclusion does not follow from the stated premise. I would reject that cost evaluation.
  8. Haven't seen it, but who knows? Try it and let's see what happens. You might get by with it. It's an interesting phenomenon. Congress makes a rule: "You shall evaluate price." That rule proves to be inconvenient in some circumstances, so Congress makes an exception: "Well, you don't have to evaluate price if you're going to make multiple awards and give a contract to "each and all qualifying offerors." It isn't long long before somebody tries to stretch or bend the exception. This comes to the attention of Congress after a while, which then changes the rule or makes another. I've seen it happen many times over the course of my 47 years in this business. That's why the FAR (48 CFR Ch. 1), which started out being 1,220 pages long, is now 1,624 pages long and still growing—an historical average rate of about 10.9 pages a year over 37 years. That does not include the FAR supps. Maybe this is an illustration of what David Graeber described as "The Iron Law of Liberalism" in his book The Utopia of Rules: Rules spawn more rules. Emergent behavior.
  9. See Blue Tech, Inc. v. U.S., Court of Federal Claims, on the Wifcon home page.
  10. @ji20874"Stupid"! You're starting to sound like, like... 😄
  11. @WifWafWifwaf, that was a GREAT post!!! Thank you!
  12. Government commercial acquisition is nothing like what you do, not even superficially, and the purchase card program is trivial in the overall scheme of things. I don't want to argue with you about the analogy that you want to make. Even if I agreed with you, it would not contribute to this discussion. You are welcome to your opinion. My question is whether the Federal acquisition system is a complex adaptive system and, if it is, whether that might explain why acquisition reforms based on rule changes have, by widespread consensus, failed.
  13. @General.ZhukovI should point out that comparison of our system with those of other countries must take into consideration differences in the structure, content, and processes of government. Great Britain, for instance, has a parliamentary system, which is very different from ours. The doctrine of strict separation of powers does not apply. The two systems are different, operate differently, and must cope with different kinds of emergences. (That's emergences, not emergencies.)
  14. What you are asking is a different question than the one I have asked. I suggest that you start your own thread.
  15. @Don MansfieldI think you know that the definition you quoted is too narrow. Besides, you quoted only a very small part of the American Heritage Dictionary definition. Here's the complete definition: And see DOD Directive 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System (September 9, 2020). I agree though, that the Federal acquisition system could be called a system of systems.
  16. Here is one description of a complex system that appeared in an oft-cited article in the November 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review: Snowdon and Boone, "A Leader's Framework for Decision Making." One article on complex adaptive systems in military analysis stated that a jet fighter is a complicated system, but not complex, while a Navy SEAL team may exhibit characteristics of a complex adaptive system. Another source categorized systems as simple, complicated, and complex.
  17. @C CulhamSo let's say that, conceptually, buying is buying. But when the government buys something significant, several different functional offices within an agency, each of which has its own rules, processes, and procedures, must coordinate, and that can be difficult. If a service wants to buy a new aircraft, they have a multitude of technical and administrative communities to deal with, as well as political and business interests, each of which is pursuing its own objectives, is following its own course, and is subject to external forces that it cannot direct or control. Moreover, they have to keep their eyes on prospective opponents and allies. None of those can be easily controlled, and developments among them are highly unpredictable. In short, the analogy between what you do and what the acquisition system must do is very, very weak. Acquisition reformers have focused on changing the rules. The have failed time and again in their attempts to fix the system using that approach. I wonder if it's because they have used an approach that might work for a merely complicated system, but not for a complex adaptive system.
  18. @General.ZhukovHow about the changes to the Federal Supply Schedule program and the surge in the use of GWACs and MATOCs? How about the (failed) push for performance-based contracting? How about cybersecurity issues and AI? How about the focus on supply chain security? How about the surge in IT requirements and staff augmentation ("professional service") requirements? How about the emergence of SpaceX and Blue Origin to displace legacy launch vehicle contractors? How about Amazon's apparent tactic of trying to change agency acquisition strategy through use of extended protest litigation at the COFC? (They succeeded with JEDI. Now they're trying it against NASA.) How about wars? Aren't those emergences? And haven't they affected the strategies and conduct of acquisitions and the predictability of acquisition outcomes? Haven't acquisition personnel had to adapt? Remember, I'm asking about acquisition, not just contracting.
  19. How is that responsive to the question? I am trying to determine whether acquisition reform efforts have failed because the reformers have thought of the acquisition system as merely needlessly complicated, when in fact it is unavoidably complex and adaptive. Thinking that it is merely complicated, they try to simplify it through rule reform. But if it's complex and adaptive, then simplification and rule reform won't work, in part because complex and adaptive systems are subject to emergence, which defeats rules. I want to see if anyone else here has thought along those lines, and I want to learn what if any conclusions they have reached. Because I think that my thinking about this has been, in the words of Dylan, "limited and underfed."
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