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Everything posted by formerfed

  1. @Vern Edwards Vern, I think an objective answer should not be based from people like Carl, Joel, me or yourself. Collectively there’s probably close to 200 years of experience there but probably lots of biases based upon what worked historically. Students today learn differently. The college experience is much different. Some classes aren’t even taught in a big lecture hall but the professor presents remotely. Interaction with professors is done using texts or PMs. So graduates are used to this mode.
  2. True. I jumped ahead to the likelihood of the government deciding to acquire the license
  3. The majority of students learned what was expected. They did well. But a small proportion (maybe 10-15%) found ways to “cheat” - sign in to online sessions but didn’t stay around during lectures, copied exercise responses from online sources and submitted as their own work, or had coworkers complete exams for them. Those same people conveniently found reasons for not participating in team assignments. Usually the excuses were technical like they couldn’t log on
  4. Yes. I taught classes remotely during Covid and it worked reasonably well. The material was divided between online lectures, reading, exercises, and student team activities. The course graphic developers were very skilled and did a remarkable with material presentation. The lectures, discussions, and team exercises were done using virtual tools like Zoom, Teams, Adobe Connect, etc. As far as actual remote working, I think it takes a special combination of individual traits to be successful. Many agencies now literally are working virtually. Even if an 1102 is in the office, most likely the people they interface with like program personnel, budget, finance, legal, technical, etc. are working remotely to vary degrees.
  5. What’s described in the initial post is a common practice in the industry. Government agencies typically deal with the competition issue in one of two ways. The most common is preparing the justification and synopsizing after the no cost trial but before the purchase. The less frequent approach is synopsizing upfront the agencies intent to enter into a no cost trial with the potential of ultimate purchase.
  6. Page 24 of the SEWP FAQs tells you synopsis is not required. The FAR 5.202(a)(6) exception ji20874 mentioned above applies https://www.sewp.nasa.gov/documents/SEWP_FAQs.pdf
  7. I’m pessimistic about simplification. Things often start out simple but don’t stay that way from long. Examples include commercial item buying, simplified acquisition, multiple award IDIQ contracts, P Card, OTA, conducting discussions, just to name a few. Vern already mentioned several of these. Even the FAR wasn’t that complicated when it was issued 40 years ago. But that couldn’t be left alone. The DFARS is huge in size. Then there are command policies and procedures. Finally there are individual buying offices, instructions, SOPs, and directives. Civilian agencies aren’t much better. One big problem is management at all levels wants to control. It wants uniformity and often believes more directive is needed than high level regulations. In their defense, many 1102s need that kind of step-by-step instructions. Plus, Congress and each Administration can’t keep their hands off the process. They just mess things up more. One prime example is the widespread push for Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) awards. It took years to reverse the momentum of forcing LPTA where it doesn’t fit. In my ideal world, contracting regulations are high level citing general principles. Contracting officers are given wide latitude to achieve those goals. They are rewarded for success. Those that don’t work out are reassigned or dismissed.
  8. Yes. I knew that but didn’t think about until I saw your post, Vern. What surprised me is the huge amount of information on CISA’s site. The agency was only formed five years ago. But trying to understand cyber and security processes, procedures, policies and overall guidance is challenging not just from CISA but overall in the government.
  9. I got curious and searched “cyber” on the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) site. I got 23,000 hits. The word is also mentioned a lot as cybersecurity, cyber threats, and cyber incidents in the implementing guidance for the Federal information Management Security Act (FIMSA) and Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). Both those heavily impact the acquisition process. In fact an agency cannot acquire cloud resources without an Authorization to Proceed (ATO) from GSA.
  10. I’m certainly no cyber expert but I’ve been around a lot of system development. I think the FAR coverage is due to senior officials and politician's thinking the government needs to tell contractors what to do. Those same believe the government knows how to take care of itself. Cyber is covered in lots of memorandums, operating procedures, and agency policy. But a lot changed and It because a hot issue with all the Russia and Chinese hackers accessing government systems including domestic hackers stealing data. But not much of the direction makes it into CFR.
  11. I’m skeptical about this and wonder about an ulterior motive. Ryan Connell left this organization and was very involved and influential.. He left that organization and went to the Digital and Artificial Office in charge of acquisitions. Between what’s he done there and the huge success of Tradewinds, I think someone at DoD wants to rein the CDAO in and have them accountable to DPCAP - that’s the “I” part of the new API directorate. Maybe I’m wrong but it sure looks suspicious.
  12. Yes. Picking up on Don’s point, you often don’t know when open market items are involved or specifically which ones are until you get close to order award. So you comply with FAR 5 after quote evaluation and prior to issuing the orders.
  13. Really nothing new in this thread was introduced from the previous 10 year old thread. There’s no conclusive answer. I assume if a conflict existed, the FAR would recognize it and state what’s proper (of course, that’s assuming the FAR committee is aware of it).
  14. @Vern Edwards This NCMA article provides a lot of background on the tool. The two leads (brief bio at the end) have a good deal of experience. https://ncmahq.org/Web/Shared_Content/CM-Magazine/CM-Magazine-April-2024/A-New-Tool-to-Help-Avoid-Bid-Protest-Pitfalls--The-Contract-Protest-Diagnostic-Tool.aspx
  15. Some interesting data on CPARS ratings. The average score based upon a 1-5 scale with Satisfactory being a 3 for FY22 was 3.52. That dropped from 3.72 in FY15. Less than 2% of contractors received Marginal or Unsatisfactory! https://www.highergov.com/reports/cpars-ratings-trends-2023/
  16. First, not all contracts are in CPARS. Some offices are not diligent in entering the data. Some are exempt. Then some actions are also exempt. Performance information can be gathered through questionnaires, interviews, and other sources including commercial like D&B. https://www.dau.edu/acquipedia-article/past-performance#:~:text=FAR Requirements for Evaluating Past Performance&text=In addition to CPARS%2C contracting,in accordance with FAR 9.404.
  17. This hits right on one of my pet peeves. Past performance has always been intended to consider an offerors performance. It allows wide discretion in evaluating data from a wide range of sources and not just CPARS. But the government in its typical bureaucratic and risk adverse mode, relies upon CPARS chiefly. In some cases, that’s the only source. And CPARS ratings are highly inflated.
  18. Unless the solicitation specifically requires information broken down by base and option years, just state your period of performance as: ”March 21, 2018 through September 21, 2021.” You are in compliance with the solicitation instructions and there’s no need to ask questions. This is the commonly expected and usual way of submitting the information.
  19. I read a number on online opinions. The consensus is much will be sent to the courts, especially when contractors are facing financial penalties and other impacts. One paper highlighted DoL. The author noted that a large part of their regulations are not based on statutory authority but political and senior agency direction and executive orders. The authors see lots of challenges in court y contractors for not only DoL but SBA and EPA. A really interesting situation is around the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It exists from an amendment to evHomeland Security Act. The wording appears to be purposively vague by Congress. The authors suggested that Congress intentionally avoided specific direction and left implementing and controlling actions to the cyber experts at CISA. Sounds ripe for contractors to challenge in court especially when a company is shut out from doing business. Here’s something CISA just did
  20. Joel and Bob, FEMA provides grants for firefighting equipment. That may be where the funding to purchase came from, either in part or all. https://www.fema.gov/grants/preparedness/firefighters/assistance-grants
  21. I read the book maybe 20 years ago and don’t remember much. I must have borrowed it from someone or a library. Nothing seemed to stand out for me then. But I’m curious and will read it again. i did have some disagreements with a prior government boss. I always liked being responsive to program needs and reacting promptly. On the other hand, he liked to mull things over, gather large groups to discuss, develop plans, and have regular meetings to discuss progress. It turned out, agency senior management liked my approach more. I was often invited to meetings with the agency head and senior staff to discuss acquisitions and he wasn’t. I felt bad and decided to leave the agency for another job.
  22. The answer depends upon the agency with the requirement and the specific nature of the requirement. This should give you insight. Look closely at “Customer Viewing and Funding of Marketplace Solutions” on page 3. https://storage.tradewindai.com/pdfs/Tradewinds-Solutions-Marketplace-Customer-Handbook-v1.2-Aug-2023_2023-08-30-143746_tawp.pdf
  23. My mentor as an intern encouraged me to take two cost accounting courses at the local college. Sound advice and I thanked him 20 years later when he retired. That helped me several times over my career in understanding audit findings and having meaningful conversations with the auditors. Also in many instances, I had the auditors participate via telephone calls in meetings with contractors.
  24. A BPA makes the most sense. If the Army is concerned with price increases, they could always switch vendors. The company I worked for did lots of procurement reviews at different agencies. One shocking thing found is the number of contracts awarded instead of BPAs or POs because “we get more credit with contracts in workload assessments.”
  25. Good article Vern. My initial reaction is why the Army didn’t use the streamlined solicitation process of FAR 12.603? Then I looked at what’s required in terms of posting by that process as well as FAR part 5, and it’s not so streamlined either.
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