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jad

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Everything posted by jad

  1. Our office learned about the reinstatement of 13.5 at 0630 this morning and we started using at 0800 . Happy new year everyone!
  2. Yes, we are planning to place an order on a sole source basis under another agency's BOA. Thank you for your response. It appears that I was overthinking it all along.
  3. Perhaps I am splitting hairs on this one, but when I do something I'd prefer to do it properly and understand what I'm doing and why I'm doing it the way I'm doing it. Also, doing it right doesn't really take any more effort than doing it wrong. And to be clear, I have comparatively little experience with Agreements in general, so I apologize if I'm coming off as a dunderhead. I am nearly certain that a contractor's response to a BOA (not a contract) is treated as a quotation. To borrow from the definition in FAR 13.004(a), Legal Effect of Quotations: "A quotation is not an offer and, consequently, cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Therefore, issuance by the Government of an order in response to a supplier’s quotation does not establish a contract. The order is an offer by the Government to the supplier to buy certain supplies or services upon specified terms and conditions. A contract is established when the supplier accepts the offer." However, for me "nearly certain" isn't quite good enough. I've seen some agencies treat responses as quotes, others as offers/proposals. Probably in most cases they are calling it whatever the heck they want without any further thought. I appreciate any wisdom you can provide on this subject.
  4. I was in your shoes nearly 9 years ago. Trust me, what you are experiencing is perfectly normal. I felt like a fish out of water for about the first year. By my second and third years I felt like I was at least treading water. As my supervisor (KO) at the time stated, my cost/benefit ratio to the office was exactly 0. Nowadays I'd say I am relatively comfortable with what I do, however as Vern correctly points out, Contracting is a complicated field and the only constant is constant change. And after 5 years, don't be surprised if you look back at what you learned in earlier years and realize you had it all wrong. Sometimes, just reading the FAR helps. I know, it can be painfully boring at times, but sometimes it helps to just sit down, read it and think about it on a deeper level. That's how I ended up challenging some of my earlier notions that proved to be false. But to master the field? I'm not sure it is even possible. And as Vern points out, there might well be some harm in thinking you've mastered anything. For example, as a gun owner, I don't EVER want to feel I've mastered safe handling practices ... that leads to complacency (in any endeavor) and complacency leads one to shoot themselves in the foot. Literally in my example (trust me, I've seen somebody do it, and there foot was only about 18" from mine!) You can get close to mastery, but just when you think you've seen it all, usually within hours of that thought something will rise up from behind and kick you squarely in your hind parts and prove you wrong. Over the years I've seen some incredibly goofy stuff that I thought wasn't possible, but now that I'm a little older I know better. I have the bruises on my back side to prove it . So I think the key is patience, an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a desire to strive for excellence.
  5. Joel, Really, you are only mildly curious? That's it? I, for one, am sitting on the edge of my seat! Where's my popcorn ...
  6. Emphasis added. Yes, this is an old topic, but it does strike a cord with me. In my observation, automation did free up time. But think about people who move into a bigger house because they need space for all their crap. What happens shortly thereafter? They fill the bigger house to the brim with more needless crap. Then they move into a bigger house ... raise your electronic hand if you are guilty of this. As an 1102, in my prior organization roughly 10 to 15% of my time was spent tracking down data for endless data calls (usually redundant ones at that). And that was increasing, up until the point I left. It was mind numbing. "Be sure to put a cover sheet on your TPS reports!" "Did get that memo?" Data calls and reporting aren't really an issue in my current organization; the problem in is MASSIVE contract admin. I'm overwhelmed with incremental funding modifications, deobligations, new orders under single award IDIQs, etc. There simply aren't enough 1105s and 1106s to go around (ours are plenty busy just doing new actions under the SAT). It is frustrating, and demoralizing. So I'm looking at other career options. I keep thinking things will get better, that I'll get to do true 1102 work soon. We're about to go through a big reorg soon, so we'll see.
  7. Huh. Sadly, I can't say I'm all that surprised. I've seen agencies (which shall remain unnamed) present official awards or other recognition to employees who figured out ways of "improving" a process by commiting blatant violations of law or regulation.
  8. Okay, what the heck, I'll see if I can get this interesting thread moving again. I am currently reading Kissinger 1973, The Crucial Year by Alistair Horne. It is proving the be a thoroughly fascinating read about one of the most tumultuous years in American, and world history. I highly recommend it.
  9. No kidding. I read the entire court decision, and the digust you describe was plainly evident. In fact, I have to give the judge kudos for showing more restraint than I would have. The infamous USAF Tanker procurements have been excellent examples of what NOT to do during the solitication, evaluation and award phase of an acquisition. The example you cited is an excellent demonstration of what NOT to do during contract admin. Unbelievable. If I were to sum it up, for those that haven't read the entire decision, the Corps provided a defective spec to the contractor, who (surprise surprise) could not get the design to work, although they bent over backwards trying to make it work. Oh yeah, and some of the Corps suggested fixes were also faulty. Meanwhile, the Corps denies their design is defective and contracts with a 3rd party civil engineering firm to back up their position and ... wait for it ... the 3rd party firm agrees with the contractor that the Corp's design is faulty. Epic fail . Heck, the Corps eventually admits to the design defect, but quickly does an about face by ignoring the defect in subsequent actions. Meanwhile, the contractor (very wisely) haults or delays performance on numerous occaisions due to what turned out to be very valid work site safety concerns, to which the Corps was also apparently in agreement, but the Corps decided to fault the contractor with the delay anway. Later that fall, the Corps further delayed performance and again faulted the contractor for the government caused delay, in addition to the delays caused by the notoriously harsh North Dakota winter. The Corps may as well have said to the contractor "We know our design was screwed up and as a result the site itself is dangerous, but make it work anyway and any delays resulting from our actions are your problem."
  10. jad

    Expeditor?

    The "expeditor" exists (unofficially) in the agency our contracting office supports. After our agency customer dithers with a procurement request (funds, SOW, market research results, etc), staring at their navel I guess, for months and months and months on end, and upon finally getting the request, their "expeditor"starts riding our butts only hours later to get the contract awarded yesterday.
  11. LOL, I was going to say "group think beauracratic inertia", but, that works too! When I first came into the contracting world and the larger universe of government acquisition, I too was guilty of learning purely from others in the organization and the DAU courses. I suppose when you are so green, this will be the natural tendency. One day, I decided to carefully read Parts 12, 13 and 13.5 and was rather confused that it did not match up with how my agency did things. That's when I first started having my own questions, not the least of which was why the heck we were making it more difficult than it needed to be. The classic lame answer "but we've always done it this way" seems to be the culprit. How ironic that just as a tipping point seems to have been reached, with 13.5 finally started to sink into the thick skulls of many in the "old guard", the program slips away.
  12. Our office has not gone paperless per se, but we do try to avoid printing until the final, official copy of whatever document is ready for the file. We try to keep all draft copies (ie, the PWS) in electronic form where we use MS Word's Track Changes tool and comments to easily and legibly make changes. And we do keep electronic copies of all the important contract docs on a share server. But our PD2 system is simply too unstable and unreliable to upload massive amounts of files to it; I think we'd probably kill the poor hamster, running on his little squeaky wheel, if we tried to do that . Also, a totally paperless environment is not practical for us at this time, as we simply don't have the electronic resources (memory space) to implement it in the first place. Expanding those resources is darn near impossible, as we work under one of the most restrictive (read: asinine) computer networks on the planet. I for one, get a lot of friendly ribbing from my office mates because my physical desktop is often completely free of paper. However, my computer desktop routinely has many files open on the task bar (currently I have 11 different items open, about average for me). I rarely use paper files these days; I only do so when I can't access something electronically. I have placed shortcuts (organized into folders and subfolders) under the Windows Start menu linking to all my most frequently used files (contract polices and procedures, IT procedures, ongoing contracts and contracts being administered, etc). The end result is if someone asks for the warranty provisions in contract ABC, I can often have the info within seconds. Works for me. Problem is when the network goes down, I am basically paralyzed.
  13. Vern, In consideration of you other reply to policyguy, probably to get all the way down to the .5% figure in the memo. In other words, it appears that someone played with the math (the numerator and the denominator) to get the 13.5 useage % as low as possible (and unintentionally made it look ridiculous in the process). I guess they figure if they are going to do the CYA thing, they might as well come out with all guns blazing ... "Ah, yes, well you see, that 13.5 test program is so unimporant and insignificant. I mean, look at the tiny percentage of cases where anyone actually used it. So may as well just let it go, ditch it. Just a waste of electrons and ink. Nothing to see here ... " Okay, that may be hyperbole on my part, and I might well be full of it. But I suspect many have come to the same basic conclusion, right or wrong.
  14. You are correct. We are already in the process of re-edumacating ourselves into the world of Part 12/15 and are looking closely at the language in 12.6. We certainly don't care to go back to the old "FAR Part 15 Plus" way of doing business, what Vern Edwards described as "The FAR Part 15 Process Model" in is excellent article at http://www.wifcon.com/anal/analcomproc.htm. Joel, My Agency is already working on a response to the DPAP memo. However, I suspect some agencies (like the one I used to work for) probably won't bother because they never followed the spirit of 13.5 anyway. The prior agency was in the habit of developing 60 page source selection plans, conducting the evaluation using a formal evaluation / SSA structure, establising a competitive range, conducting formal discussions, requesting FPRs ... even requiring each eval team member to sign and date every single note, worksheet, coffee stained napkin, etc they used to develop their formal tech report ... for commercial procurements as low as $180,000 in one case. Interesting, when you consider that even if agencies report 13.5 actions, how many of those really followed the spirit of 13.5 in the first place vs how many are literally just "checking the box"?
  15. My agency suspects this as well. In fact, we have already found evidence of possible mis coding on what could be a significant scale. As you said, shame on us if that's true. However, I can't believe for the life of me why no one questioned the tiny percentages of less than 1% reported in FPDS. It would have made more sense for the someone to at least ask the questions they are asking now in the referenced memorandum before throwing out the baby with the bath water. But that makes too much sense, sorry, I forgot. Our Agency for one HEAVILY relies on 13.5, so this is going to be a rather painful impact when we are already short handed. Maybe this is the higher up's way of "encouraging" greater use of GSA / FSS?
  16. Hey, I feel your pain as well. Only around here the oft used phrase is "work stoppage, work stoppage!" This is often screamed in response to our position that we must follow CICA, unless we cite a legitimate and very specific exception to competition (and "I don't care what congress says 'cuz they are a bunch of morons, I want to do it my way and go straight to company ABC" isn't one of them). Or that we must comply with FAR Part 5.2 public notice requirements. Or that we must follow the laws and regs of the US in general. Some days it is comical. Some days it is incredibly tiring. Most of the time its both. To speed things up, the customer figured if they stamped everything "urgent", things would get done faster. My usual reply goes something like "As a government employee, if you start doing something that is running perfectly and seems remarkably easy, STOP! Think for a minute, because you are probably doing something illegal." Nice general rule of thumb. Either that, or I'll just tell them that I'm not following their plan, because I don't look good in an orange jump suit. Helps lighten the mood a little. What works best I've found is to advise them that we can't reach acquisition goal X by following their Plan A. But we can get their using Plan B. Or Plan B or C, etc. "If you don't think you have enough time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you will have time to go back and do it over?" I love this quote, thank you. I believe I will start using it.
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