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formerfed

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  1. The footnote in the case regarding FSS orders being contracts is interesting. There are several unique aspects of FSS contracts and ordering that makes one think - ability to negotiate lower prices, use of CTA, adding agency specific clauses to orders as long as they don’t conflict, including subcontractors labor if they fit within the contractors billing rates, and including ODCs if the agency complies with all procurement regulations such as synopsizing and competition requirements if applicable. Take the example of $10 million system development effort. Say the contractor does $5 million of the work themselves, has $1 million work done by a sub but billed under the contractors rates, has a $2 million CTA with a hardware company also on FSS Schedule, and includes $2 million of ODCs from commercial sources that the agency added after preparing a JOFOC and synopsized. Is that an order or a contract?
  2. Don’t mean to get this thread off topic but we did a somewhat similar approach a long time ago with R&D. Many of the actions were for basic and applied research. Competition was often between commercial organizations, non and not-for-profits, educational institutions, and certain kinds of labs. An RFQ was used as the solicitation and contract terms and conditions were decided after source selection. Those often were negotiated between the selectee and the KO. The RFQ contained high level evaluation factors and a suggested contract type but offerers were free to propose alternative types. The process worked well for years but got stopped when word reached the ASD (I&L) as being too unstructured.
  3. I left out wording in my prior post. I went back and edited it. What I meant is some agency policies say use standards for factors rather than comparison. After your explanation, I didn’t really need to say more.
  4. Many agencies have operational policies saying the evaluation teams must only evaluate proposals using the stated standards established for factors and not make comparisons. Then comparison occur after evaluation in source selection. Edit: I didn’t see Verns post when I made mine. It wasn’t there. Strange but the times are two hours apart.
  5. Off topic but somewhat humorous. I worked in ADP acquisitions at GSA at the peak of Brooks Act influence. GSA wrote a source selection manual for ADP for governmentwide use and often conducted acquisitions for other agencies - agencies had to request a delegation to conduct their own procurement or GSA did it for them. The policy required everything, including price/cost to be point scored. The lowest price offeror got the maximum and other higher price offers received proportionally less. The winner was the source with the most points!
  6. @Vern Edwards I don’t know. The quoted statements make sense on the surface. But it poses serious problems in relaying on a single source, there won’t be competition for a long time (this is a ten year contract that’s taken three years to get this far so a single award might really translate into 15 years or more), and what will be the incentive for a contractor to stay with newer technology? If this contract was awarded five years ago, the likely sources would be IBM, Google, and maybe Adobe. Now the contenders are AWS and Microsoft. Sales force is another company that came out of nowhere. Considering the size and importance of JEDI, there has to be other approaches like contractor for an integrator, dividing up the work into discreet pieces, requiring partnering, and probably others.
  7. Vern, Yes, it would be more of a transactional approach. I think relational business arrangements are important for the government. But in the case of JEDI, it may not be best. Technology evolves so rapidly in this field. Who would have envisioned a system that AWS has a few years ago or Microsoft suddenly being a major player? I don’t know much what JEDI is except a network with a cloud and use of machine learning and AI. But I’m guessing what we see today will be radically different in a few years. My question is do we want our national defense to be wed to a single company? A multiple award approach gives some alternatives.
  8. If multiple firms are qualified with competitive pricing, nothing wrong with maintaining competition during the performance period. Technology will rapidly change over the next few years. Having contractors deliver using an “open architecture” approach needs stressed for the good of the country where one company can easily pick up where another left off.
  9. Carl, You're taking this way off topic. Those GSA blog comments have nothing to do with this. Of course agencies can add clauses to their orders that don’t conflict with the Schedule. My comment had to do with whether clause 552.212-4 applied to orders. I admit I got off track thinking of a couple past situations where Schedule clauses referred to “GSA” and “contractor” and agencies tried wrongly to say those clauses pertained to their individual orders substituting themselves for GSA. I was wrong with that. As Vern mentioned, we don’t know what the agency modification said in the OPs case. Certainly an administrative action can be unilateral. But In other situations where an agency’s action infringes altering contractual rights, the modification needs to be bilateral reflecting mutual agreement.
  10. Vern, Agreed. Seeing the specific language removing funding is necessary first. Carl, I’ll wait for someone at GSA to respond.
  11. The 552.212-4 clause says “Changes. Changes in the terms and conditions of this contract may be made only by written agreement of the parties.” That just addresses contract changes. Those are revisions made to the Contractor/GSA PSS contract FAR 52.216-18(b) on Ordering says “All delivery orders or task orders are subject to the terms and conditions of this contract. In the event of conflict between a delivery order or task order and this contract, the contract shall control.” That simply covers agency orders for supplies and/or services under the contract. The clause means agencies can’t order something that’s not part of the contract. I know several GSA people are on here. Hopefully one will explain this citing prior opinions. Im not saying an ordering agency can unilaterally take funding away from a order without the contractors concurrence. But 552.212-4 isn’t the basis.
  12. Carl, you are quoting a contract clause that pertains to the contractor and GSA. The issue here is a task order. The GSA contract doesn’t say anything like that applies to orders. I know GSA contracts well
  13. The OP said it’s the companies accounting system fault Unfortunately this stuff happens frequently. It’s most due to CFOs wanting to clear the books of unused money and also makes them look bad for annual audits. The right think to do is having the CO check with the contractor.
  14. When stakes are high, one winner takes all won’t work. To a lessor extent, a small number of multiple awardees for a contract pool won’t work either. Disgruntled sources can win also if they make enough fuss.
  15. Carl, knowing the GSA process well, it really doesn’t matter what some may argue. The terms of the GSA contract control. I know lots of agencies now are deobligating excess funds in the 4th quarter to reprogram for other purposes so money doesn’t lapse. That may be the case here. ji20874 offer sound advice. I would also call the CO and explain the situation. The program office likely wasn’t aware additional charges apply. But invoice and there’s plenty of time to add funding back on the order.
  16. Some new issues. One concerns a drop in small business obligations mostly due to Category Management which includes most GWACS as well. CatMan contracts generally are too large for small businesses to get a fair share. The other issue comes from the Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI). ADI states GWACS often stifle innovation and access from smaller IT sources. While these firms can team of subcontract with larger companies, often the larger companies impose so much oversight, control and adoption to their procedures, the smaller companies are hindered. ADI also claims the governments emphasis on experience and past perrformance in source selection effectively closes the doors to new, small sources. As an alternative, ADI suggests a “show, don’t tell” model. They also suggest greater use of commercial case studies.
  17. @contractor100, that article mentioned lots of issues. I’ll just respond to the one you raised. Combining questions and providing one answer is a common practice. An agency may get 20 similar questions. Some may even be “ghosting” so to reflect negatively on a competitor. In other instances, the identity of the source posing the question may be obvious. So paraphrasing and combining questions with a single answer isn’t wrong. But not completely responding to a question is.
  18. In that time frame, lots of misuse occurred. Since then detailed ordering procedures were added to the FAR and the process is now much clearer and precise, especially for services requiring a statement of work. Probably the most significant issues arose from agencies just transferring money to GSA at the end of a fiscal year just to “bank” or avoid losing the money.
  19. I read how Agriculture set up a multiple award pool of BPAS for IT services. A year ago they realized over 150 contracts for various IT services would expire over the following year or so. The contracts were duplicative, with inefficient ordering, and didn’t reflect benefits from consolidated purchasing. So they developed a strategy to award BPAs under GSA Schedule as replacements. The entire process took eight weeks from start to finish and that included placing $60 million in task orders following initial awards. They started sending inquiry emails of interest to well over a hundred sources. Those that responded received a draft SOW seeking advice and input including ideas for evaluation. Agriculture next asked for brief technical information and experience using the stated evaluation criteria and down selected to a lessor number. They then held orals virtually, reevaluated which further reduced the number, and made selections. That included seven small businesses. They spent a little over a week competing initial task orders with the small business pool. Given this short time and ease in awarding BPAs, I’m amazed at how many agencies still do their own IDIQ contracts when the same work is available from GSA. There really is so few reasons for separate IDIQs - agency specific terms and conditions can be added as long as they don’t conflict, prices are all negotiable, contractors can easily subject for very specialized work they don’t presently have, and the administrative time and expense for awarding IDIQ contracts is many times more than the 0.75% fee GSA charges. I once heard a supervisor at an agency say they don’t use GSA Schedules solely because she doesn’t get the same workload credit - a contract counts much more than a task order and see needs the data to justify positions!
  20. The unfortunate thing is Salus only found out adjectival ratings and price. We don’t know what we’re the merits of identified strengths making up those ratings and respective value if paying a premium was considered. We also don’t know if the agency just looked at the adjectival labels, said all three were equal, and price trumps.
  21. Joel, You’re missing what I was telling the OP. There are ways of writing proposals that can distinguish yourself from your competitors. All things being equal, a proposal that offers exceptional benefits with proof may deserve higher ratings. What often makes an offer a winner with LH proposals is providing benefits over your competitors. I also used an example for experience where a proposal focuses on what they accomplished (results from their efforts) instead of simply saying they did the work. That’s also different from a past performance assessments by clients. I'm talking here about a winning offer. You’re bringing up performance, enforceable promises, and administration which is a different subject.
  22. We don’t know what any offerer said or didn’t say nor any real history. So any opinion is purely speculative. LH contracts can be grossly inefficient or very efficient depending upon individual circumstances. Offerors can come up with innovative ways to improve efficiencies. What if an offeror proposed a way to reduce prices by 30%? We just don’t know here.
  23. I don’t think you’ll ever find out what’s behind this evaluation. But one possibility alluded to earlier in the thread is none of the offers really stood out. That may be why all the offerors got similar ratings of Acceptable. Often what differentiates one offer from another is simply what is said and how facts are presented. For example two offerors may have similar past performance. One states what their experience was in an engagement. Another does the same and then highlights accomplishments and positive outcomes for the agency because of their work. The implication is selection of them will provide benefits that competitors won’t. Or with a factor involving technical approach, an offeror distinguishes themself by stating uniqueness of what they do. They come up with a combination of tools and techniques that will help in performance instead of just simple compliance with the tasks. Then for icing on the cake, state how that helps the agency. An example is proactively monitoring and forecasting risks and mitigating early on. This allows your company to perform and consistently meet or exceed customer requirements all the time. Another example is you have an internal quality control system that utilizes subject matter experts and reviews all reports and deliverables before submission to clients. For contracts that essentially buy contract labor, there are possibilities to demonstrate advantages over competition. You could say you have a deep bench that you will train on the clients needs at no cost to the agency. That means if an employee is gone for any reason, a replacement will be virtually seamless. Or you cross train employees so they know the work of others. In event of a surge, others can help out. This may eliminate the need for overtime. From what you said it seems like the agency may be looking to reduce costs and minimizing overtime. Focusing on creative approaches on this might go a long way on winning. Just some thoughts for the future.
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