Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, formerfed said:

Yep, different set of rules and more importantly, different objectives.  The Army prize competition is encouraging development by promoting new technologies and innovations with monetary rewards.  SOCOM explained their competition isn’t looking for companies to do research and development of new things.  Rather it’s taking pieces of existing, commercial items and coming up with small, better, and cheaper devices by encouraging teaming and partnering among suppliers.  Crowdsourcing is a key tool.  They felt if there was a way to promote sources to get together and talk, that’s a win.

(Emphasis added above) - you say “different objectives”...why? To me the objective for both “ventilator challenges” is to get to more ventilators fastest to address the potential shortfall...did I miss something? Everything you detail about “promoting new technologies” vs. “taking pieces of existing, commercial items” are not objectives...those are means to an end (and if the means became the objective during a pandemic then that, to me, is the definition of taking one’s eye off the ball).

Anyone have any idea how the Army’s essay writing and public speaking contest turned out?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ll change objectives to purposes then. One purpose is developing and proving some newer technologies to produce ventilators.  The other is encouraging vendors with various commercial components to team up and produce low cost and small ventilators.

If you think the Army is just doing paper essay writing, what do you think proposals are?  The difference is the prize competition pays vendors to do development that I assume the Army won’t get without some prize money.

Edit:  The Army one is reserved for small businesses and educational institutions.  I remember someone saying they needed prize money to encourage responses.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, formerfed said:

If you think the Army is just doing paper essay writing, what do you think proposals are?

Exactly - that’s a major problem with the way acquisition professionals conduct competitions - instead of focusing evaluation factors on promises and an offeror’s capabilities that are more likely to predict their performance, we instead ask for fluffy narratives called “technical approaches” or “key personnel plans” or “employee management/retention plans” - none of which provide any value other than making the source selection team feel good about their decision because they liked what they read from the offeror.  Recommend you read Vern Edwards’ exceptional article “A Primer on Source Selection Planning: Evaluation Factors and Rating Methods” in Briefing Papers issue 17-8 - I think it is required reading for all acquisition professionals, especially those involved in conducting competitive acquisitions.

1 hour ago, formerfed said:

The difference is the prize competition pays vendors to do development that I assume the Army won’t get without some prize money.

I re-read the Army’s competition - it didn’t pay a penny for development...it Instead paid up to $5K for an idea presented on paper and up to $100K for an idea presented as a pitch, neither of which required the presenter to do any development (at least based on the stated evaluation method on their website). The recipients of that prize could choose to spend it on developing a ventilator based on the idea they presented...or they could choose to do literally anything else with it because I saw nothing requiring recipients to spend the prize money on ventilator development (unless I missed it). Assuming I didn’t miss that fine print, what makes that an effective approach to encourage small businesses and educational institutes to develop ventilators? I would think a more effective prize competition would be something like this: we’ll pay $250K to the first 4 small businesses or educational institutes who show up with a functioning ventilator prototype that meets these standards...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Matthew,  you seem to have a rigid idea of how things should be and don’t want to change from that.   You also suggests in a couple posts that I read articles.  Let me just say I know a lot about source selections and don’t need lecturing type responses here.

The Army chose to use the approach they did because of the anticipated benefits.  It had the scrutiny and approval at very high levels.  If you see faults, why don’t you offer your advice?

The motivation for the small businesses to produce viable products is follow on production contracts.  The competition allows for those awards.

I’m done with this thread.  You seem to think the Army is all wrong.  That’s your choice.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

@formerfed Talk about the pot calling the kettle black...This forum is supposed to be for the exchange of ideas and effective exchange of ideas in many cases requires us to challenge the ideas others present. If that makes you feel lectured to the point that you just say “I’m done” that’s unfortunate.

12 hours ago, formerfed said:

The Army chose to use the approach they did because of the anticipated benefits.  It had the scrutiny and approval at very high levels.  If you see faults, why don’t you offer your advice?

 This is an appeal to an authority which is a logical fallacy - there are plenty of DoD acquisitions that had scrutiny and approval at very high levels that were not sound and did not achieve the desired objectives...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Matthew,

Ok, fair enough about me leaving the thread.   Let me add some additional information on why I think the Army’s prize competition makes sense or at least worth the experiment.  The government in general, and military in specific, has a need for small, portable ventilators that work in rural and remote locations.  The government received lots of ideas, many from very small businesses including single inventors.  Many seemed promising but government officials the regular procurement process wouldn’t work.  One barrier is many suggestions came from sources without any experience in government contracting and lacked capital.  The Army decided after talking more with these sources that some type of government endorsement of their ideas might prompt teaming or partnerships.  So the prize competition came about.

150 concepts were submitted.  Several were selected to proceed on.  One was from a company headed by a former AF medic involving hand pumped bellows.  Another was to a consortium of five businesses that may not even be involved without the prize approach.The $100,000 awards were made and sources developed prototypes.  The Army also issued an ATO solicitation on May 7 for productions of ventilators.

Perhaps your suggestion of announcing 4 $250,000 contract awards for prototypes might be better.  Who knows.  What did happen is the Army got to pick from 150 ideas and many of those would make it into a response to a solicitation.  Only time will tell if the prize competition was successful or not.  But I personally feel it was worth the effort considering the stakes involved.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/18/2020 at 6:10 PM, Matthew Fleharty said:

Exactly - that’s a major problem with the way acquisition professionals conduct competitions - instead of focusing evaluation factors on promises and an offeror’s capabilities that are more likely to predict their performance, we instead ask for fluffy narratives called “technical approaches” or “key personnel plans” or “employee management/retention plans” - none of which provide any value other than making the source selection team feel good about their decision because they liked what they read from the offeror.

You’re preaching to the choir.   I’ve said for a long time most agencies do source selections wrong.  The process should start with comprehensive market research to identify best performers and what they do that makes them the best.  That translates into evaluation factors and includes things like methodologies, processes, and other items that the very best do and other competitors don’t.  Past performance Is also essential.  I don’t mean CPARS or sending questionnaires to offeror provided references.  I mean digging and finding the most relevant customers and then asking pointed and direct questions about satisfaction and delivered results.  As you said technical approaches and key personnel aren’t that valuable. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...