Discussion

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

We’re happy to welcome back one of our favorite retired Contracting Officers, Shelley Hall.  Shelley and Paul discuss the web of confusing requirements surrounding the Buy American Act (BAA), Trade Agreement Act (TAA), and Berry Amendment.

Learn how these laws restrict Government purchases of most supplies originating from non-domestic sources and why bids & proposals can be eliminated from a competition if they aren’t compliant. Shelley also provides advice on how to deal with exceptions to RFP requirements relating to the BAA, TAA, and Berry Amendment.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

“The debriefing is an opportunity to prevent protests, not cause them.”

Kevin and Paul return to the topic of debriefings.  Learn why debriefs are often a missed opportunity for both Government and Industry to improve future acquisition outcomes.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

Kevin and Paul explore the important distinctions between Personal Services contracts and the more common Non-Personal Services Contract.  Learn why FAR 37.104 strictly limits the use of Personal Services contracts and why many service contracts create the appearance of personal services.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

Why do modifications to Government contracts take so long to process?  (one of the great mysteries of life, to be sure!)

Kevin interviews former Contracting Officers Steve Lucianetti and Tim Griggs, and sheds some light on the inner workings Government contract administration.  Learn some of the most common reasons why modifications take longer than anticipated and how both Government and Industry can help to improve the process.  (you won’t be surprised to hear that basic communication is high on the list…)

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Shelley Hall

Since I just got back home after evacuating due to Hurricane Irma, I thought this would be a good topic to cover right now.  Government facilities close down for a variety of reasons including those that are weather-related and/or security-related.  Can contractors get paid for the time when they could not work due to a facility shut down?  As with most things with the government, it depends.

Let’s look at the case where the contractor is unable to perform.  You are a contractor replacing carpet in a government facility.  The facility closes down for security and/or weather-related reasons.  You do not have access to continue the work.  In this case, is the government going to ding you for not meeting the required delivery schedule?  No, because it’s an excusable delay.  If the shutdown is long enough, the government will issue a modification to the contract for a no-cost extension to allow the contractor to complete the work.

What if you a contractor that provides IT support in a government facility that is shut down?  If you are capable of providing the support remotely – say at your home office – they you would be expected to continue the work.  If you have to be inside the facility, then the same principle applies and you would not be penalized for not being unable to do the work.

But what if you want to work but can’t?  You provide administrative support in an office.  The base closes for a week because of a hurricane.  Can you still get paid for that time?  Probably not.

What if the facility is only closed for one day?  I have seen cases where the CO and COR will coordinate to allow the contractor to work an extra hour each day for 5 days to be able to still get paid for a week’s work.  In this case, the CO has to ensure that there are no violations of any union agreements or conflicts with the contract terms and conditions that would not allow this to happen.

How do you find out?  First, contact the CO.  Second, contact your regional Department of Labor advisor.  These folks can give you the “official” answer.

Bottom line is that normally if a contractor does not work, they don’t get paid.  Make sure you understand any terms and conditions included in a contract that discusses base closures.  It’s better to know up front than get surprised after the fact.

For instant access to over 200 articles like this one (as well as the two new ones we add every week), join the Skyway Community.
Visit http://skywaymember.com for details.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

Sometimes a contractor is unable to deliver the required goods or services according to the terms of their contract.  If the reasons for delivery issues are truly out of the contractor’s control, and not due to their fault or negligence, the Government may consider this an “excusable delay”.

Kevin and Paul discuss excusable delays (per FAR 49.401 and 52.249-14) and importance of documenting the causes of delays in order to avoid termination of the contract.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

We introduced the concept of the “small business size challenge” in Episode 73 “The Apparent Winner”.  Size challenges are not just theoretical, they happen regularly and can make the difference between winning and losing a bid.

Kevin interviews Nate Owens, the Director of Business Development at VersaPro Group. They discuss a real-life small business size challenge and describe the process and outcome.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Shelley Hall

Class Deviation 2017-O0006, Increased Micro-Purchased Threshold. 

DOD issued a memo implementing a class deviation that increases the micro-purchase threshold to $5,000 for DoD procurements and to $10,000 for DoD basic research programs.

Presidential Executive Order – Assessing & Strengthening Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base.

An executive order was issued to create a cross-government study on the capabilities of whether domestic manufacturing and defense industrial base can fully supply the country’s military needs. The assessment is due within 270 days of the dated executive order.

NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Award Term (NFS Case 2016-N027). 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a final rule amending the NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Supplement (NFS) to add policy on the use of additional contract periods of performance or “award terms” as a contract incentive. This policy provides a non-monetary incentive for contractors whose performance is sustained at an excellent level. NASA does not expect this rule to have any significant economic impact on small entities, because it does not impose any new requirements on contractors. No substantial changes to the proposed rule were made after the comment period.

Mainstays of GSA’s OASIS Contract Office Take New Jobs.

The General Services Administration (GSA) lost the top four managers from the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services contract (OASIS) program office. OASIS managers Todd Richards, Tommy Thomas, Valerie Bindel and Cat Renfro have taken undefined jobs at GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM), which focuses on complex agency acquisitions. It is unsure how the new OASIS management team may disrupt the fourth-quarter buying season.

For instant access to over 200 articles like this one (as well as the two new ones we add every week), join the Skyway Community.
Visit http://skywaymember.com for details.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

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The Government Fiscal Year (GFY is the common acronym) runs 1 October through 30 September.  The last month of the GFY has the potential for great drama because Government funds have an expiration date. (check out Ep. 019 “Colors of Money” for more on that)

Kevin and Paul talk through what happens in Government acquisition offices at the end of the fiscal year and offer some simple recommendations for both Government and Industry to help reduce the panic and stress that September often brings.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Shelley Hall

In their recent decision in Redhorse Corporation, SBA No. VET-263 (2017) SBA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) found that the Supreme Court’s Kingdomwaredecision does not affect the SBA’s SDVOSB eligibility regulation for multiple-award contracts.  This regulation requires that a company must qualify as an SDVOSB at the time of the initial offer for a multiple-award contract, rather than for all orders issued under the contract.

Redhorse involved a GSA RFQ to award task orders under the GSA Professional Services Schedule.  The order was set aside for SDVOSBs and the GSA CO did not require offerors to recertify their SDVOSB eligibility in connection with the order.

Redhorse was found to be the apparent awardee and another offeror filed a protest challenging Redhorse’s SDVOSB status.  The SBA sustained the protest and found Redhorse to be ineligible for the task order.

Redhorse filed an SDVOSB appeal with OHA.  Redhorse argued that it was an eligible SDVOSB under the Professional Services Schedule and was not required to recertify its status for the order.  As a result, Redhorse said that the SDVOSB protest should have been dismissed and OHA agreed and granted the appeal.

The protestor requested reconsideration, arguing that OHA was violating the Kingdomware decision, stating that “any new order off of a multiple award contract . . . is an independent contract in and of itself,” and requires a new SDVOSB certification.

OHA responded that the competitor hadn’t initially included Kingdomware in its appeal and could not add it at this point when requesting reconsideration.  Regardless, OHA decided to discuss Kingdomware in its decision.  “. . . because Kingdomwaredecided the narrow question of whether task orders must be set aside for veteran-owned small businesses pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 8127(d), it does not affect SBA’s existing regulations pertaining to protests against task orders and recertification under long-term, multiple-award contracts.  Kingdomware, then, is not inconsistent with the regulation at issue here, 13 C.F.R. 125.18(e)(1), which states that “if an [SDVOSB] is qualified at the time of initial offer for a Multiple Award Contract, then it will be considered an [SDVOSB] for each order issued against the contract, unless a contracting officer requests a new [SDVOSB] certification in connection with a specific order.  The CO did not request recertification for the instant task order, so Redhorse remains an SDVOSB for this task order based on its earlier certification at the GSA Schedule contract level.”

OHA dismissed the request for reconsideration and affirmed the original decision.

This will certainly not be the last time that a protest will be filed citing the Kingdomware decision.  What remains to be seen is which way the courts and SBA will decide each one.

For instant access to over 200 articles like this one (as well as the two new ones we add every week), join the Skyway Community.
Visit http://skywaymember.com for details.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

CapitolThis episode is brought to you by Deltek.  https://www.deltek.com/en/products/business-development/govwin

Few contracts are executed without changes. (longer term or complex contracts anyway…)  Government contracts generally contain a clause or clauses that allow the Government to make changes to some aspect of the contract terms.  Learn what can be changed and why Industry has a responsibility to notify the Government of formal or even perceived changes.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Shelley Hall

There have been a couple of recent cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina) that provide the “test” (in those jurisdictions) to determine if two or more entities constitute “joint employers” for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The FLSA requires covered employers to pay their employees a minimum wage and overtime. If an employee works for more than one employer, the Department of Labor’s regulations distinguishes between “separate and distinct employment” and “joint employment” for the purposes of calculating overtime.

“Separate employment” means the entities you work for “are acting entirely independently of each other and are completely disassociated” with regard to the individual’s employment. “Joint employment” means when the employment by one employer is not “completely disassociated” from employment by the other.

So why should you care?  Because this affects how overtime is calculated.  When an employee works for joint employers, all hours worked for both are added together to determine the eligibility for overtime pay under the FLSA.

In Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc, the court reviewed the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland’s determination that a group of drywall installers who were employed by a subcontractor that worked almost exclusively with one prime contractor, were not jointly employed by the two entities, and thus not entitled to overtime.

In Hall v. DIRECTTV, the 4th Circuit considered an appeal from the same Maryland District Court and trial judge where overtime claims had been dismissed for technicians employed by allegedly independent service providers that were all part of DIRECTTV’s provider network.

In the Salinas case, the court identified contradictions among the various courts in determining what was a joint employers for purposes of the FLSA.  The court stated that the confusion started with the 9th Circuit’s holding in Bonnette v. California Health and Welfare Agency (1983). In this case, the court declared that a four-factor framework could be used to determine if a person worked for a joint employer.  Did the employer (1) have the power to hire and fire the employees, (2) supervise and control employee work schedules, (3) determine the rate and method of payment, and (4) maintain employment records?

The Salinas court believed that the four-factor test came from common law used to determine whether an agency relationship exists for purposes of distinguishing an employee from an independent contractor.  The FLSA expanded the term “employee” beyond the “agency” determination.  As a result, the Salinas court stated that courts should no longer employ the “Bonnette test” in the FLSA context.

The Salinas stated that when the FLSA applied, two entities are not “completely disassociated” and are joint employers, when (1) two or more persons or entities share, agree to allocate responsibility for, or otherwise codetermine-formally or informally, directly or indirectly-the essential terms and conditions of a worker’s employment and (2) the two entities’ combined influence over the essential terms and conditions of the worker’s employment render the worker an employee as opposed to an independent contractor.  They provided six factors that should be used in answering the question of joint employment:

  1. Whether, formally or as a matter of practice, the putative joint employers jointly determine, share, or allocate the power to direct, control, or supervise the worker, whether by direct or indirect means;
  2. Whether, formally or as a matter of practice, the putative joint employers jointly determine, share, or allocate the power to-directly or indirectly-hire or fire the worker or modify the terms or conditions of the worker’s employment;
  3. The degree of permanency and duration of the relationship between the putative joint employers;
  4. Whether, through shared management or a direct or indirect ownership interest, one putative joint employer controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the other putative joint employer;
  5. Whether the work is performed on a premises owned or controlled by one or more of the putative joint employers, independently or in connection with one another; and
  6. Whether, formally or as a matter of practice, the putative joint employers jointly determine, share, or allocate responsibility over functions ordinarily carried out by an employer, such as handling payroll; providing workers’ compensation insurance; paying payroll taxes; or providing the facilities, equipment, tools, or materials necessary to complete the work.

The court then applied these six factors to the plaintiffs in the Salinas case and reversed the trial judge and determined that the defendants were joint employers.  Then in the Hall case, they applied the same six factor test and Similarly, in Hall, the 4th Circuit applied the test and reversed the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ case for failing to sufficiently allege a joint employer relationship.

The bottom line is that employers with workers covered under FLSA need to be aware of what rules apply in determining how overtime is calculated.  If you are in a potential joint employment situation, you and your workers need to understand the rules.  Even though this decision was made for 4th District Court states, it could be used as the basis for claims in other states.

For instant access to over 200 articles like this one (as well as the two new ones we add every week), join the Skyway Community.
Visit http://skywaymember.com for details.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

We’ve covered the Government’s acquisition process in many different episodes.  Today Kevin and Paul discuss Industry’s proposal writing process and focus on the control gates that are often called “Color Teams”.  Learn why reviews are critical to meeting the proposal schedule and why it is important for small companies to understand the process.

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This episode is brought to you by Skyway Acquisition.  To get help with the Government market, become a Skyway Community member. The Skyway Community ensures you are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities and better equipped to manage the challenges of government contracts.  Members have access to one-on-one insights, time-saving tools, and training resources from our team of former COs, including the ability to get the perspective of our whole team in Ask A Contracting Officer Forum, get specialized training from our on-demand webinars and articles, targeting support through our RFP Score™ assessment tool, as well as our consulting from our team of former COs who help solve your unique puzzles. Personal memberships start at $50 with no contract. To learn more, visit skywaymember.com.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

CapitolThis episode is brought to you by Deltek.  https://www.deltek.com/en/products/business-development/govwin

The first event after contract award is usually the contract kickoff meeting.  Learn how this important meeting sets the tone for the entire contract period of performance and why both Government and Industry teams should use the kickoff to gain context.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

 

by Vicky Strycharske

When I first read this topic, I thought, “Wow! That’s a really hard question to answer! There are so many variables that affect a company’s ability to win a contract, let alone “enough” government contracts, that it would be nearly impossible to answer this question reasonably. Then I realized that the topic is “Can” not “Will” I win enough, and of course the answer is “Yes!” You can win government contracts if you target your government market properly and then develop and follow a strategy for selling to that market.

Let’s face it – the federal government is literally the richest customer in the world. And they buy pretty much everything! But while they do buy a wide variety of products and services, the approach you use for selling a very unique, new item (a “Flux capacitor” for example) to the government is very different from winning contracts for janitorial services. (For those too young to remember, the flux capacitor was the core component of Dr. Emmett Brown’s time traveling DeLorean time machine in the movie “Back to the Future!”)

Every agency in every building needs their trash emptied and their floors swept, just as every commercial building does. So there are a lot of customers within the federal government for janitorial services. To target this market, as we’ve talked about many times, you’ll need to research www.USASpending.gov (to see which agencies actually do the purchasing of janitorial services) and the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website (www.fbo.gov), to see what janitorial opportunities have been announced. But this is also an extremely competitive market, because all of the other janitorial companies want to win those very same contracts. You will need to put together a competitive quote or a proposal for each of these opportunities, submit your best price, and wait to see who is selected.

Selling the flux capacitor (a one-of-a-kind solution to time travel) to the federal government would take a whole different approach. You will need to identify which agencies need your flux capacitor. You might need to look for the agencies that buy very cutting edge technology, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to see if someone there is trying to solve the time travel riddle. (Don’t laugh, there probably is!) Because your item is new and unique, there will be a much smaller government market place, at least until the government starts buying it, and other companies start developing and selling their own flux capacitors, too!

If you’d like further details on targeting your government market, check out the many blogs, podcasts, and webinars we have provided within the Skyway community over the past several years. Now what you do with that information is what will determine how successful you are in winning government business. But let’s get back to the initial question which was “Can I win enough government business to justify my investment?” Let’s look at the numbers. According to USA Spending, the federal government spent $3,703,531,458 (that’s nearly $4 Billion!) in one year (2016)! And DARPA (just one agency), spent $299,013,388 (nearly $300 million) on more than 600 contracts to “…identify and pursue high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines and to transform these initiatives into important, radically new, game-changing technologies…” [from DARPA-BAA-16-46 synopsis, 3Jun16.] So can you make enough to justify your investment? What do you think?

For instant access to over 200 articles like this one (as well as the two new ones we add every week), join the Skyway Community.
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If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

One of the best shortcuts to learn and grow is to get perspective from people with different experiences than your own.  We’re happy to welcome David Bartlow back to the podcast to give us the program manager’s perspective.  Dave has 15 years of Government contracting experience with the Department of the Navy and multiple large and small government contractors.  Throughout his career David has taken on the most challenging projects and has developed an expertise in applying programmatic discipline to unstructured initiatives or distressed programs.

Paul and Dave discuss the ever present risk that both Government and Industry program managers face during project execution: scope creep. The contract requirements were written with best intentions, but it seems inevitable that more (or slightly different) work is desired than planned.

Learn how to recognize scope creep and why it is hard for Industry to “just say no” to Government requests.

We hope you enjoy the Program Manager’s perspective, joining the proposal manager’s and contract administrator’s perspectives on the podcast in the quest to help make Government contracts better, one contract at a time.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Tim Griggs

This story provides a good example of how arbitrary and capricious the Government can be.  I was serving in Afghanistan as the Chief of Contracting on one of the major bases in Helmand Province. It was the summer of 2011 and President Obama’s ‘Afghan Surge’ was in full swing. However, the timeline for withdrawal was also proceeding apace and the first troop drawdowns would begin the following spring.

Even though we were deployed in a combat zone, the colors of money still count, and we were obligating mostly O&M (Operations & Maintenance) funds.  Which meant that as summer passed, the end of the fiscal year loomed, and we had to obligate the money or lose it forever, then wait for FY2012 dollars to be released for expenditure.  In a combat zone, the finality of the FY doesn’t carry the same weight as at home station, because budgets are pretty wide open – at most, the lost FY2011 dollars would be replaced by FY2012 dollars in a matter of weeks. At home station, it’s a different story, as the budget officer, comptroller, contracting officer, and various and sundry associates would have to explain why precious dollars expired without obligation, and “how in all that is holy are we going to get that money allocated again?”

In this particular case, the Marine HQs in charge of the camp had decided to execute the ‘Surge’ plan to the full extent, and wanted to expand the camp, construct semi-permanent facilities, and improve the overall quality of life for the camp and its occupants. That plan revolved around four Pre-Engineered Buildings (PEBs), valued at approximately $600,000 apiece. So we are talking about $2.5 Million – in Afghanistan, that was truly a rounding error – the US forces there spent upwards of $1 Billion per week, so a couple million hardly raised an eyebrow. But Marines are known for their combat prowess, not necessarily their procurement savvy. So the process to get the procurement planned, approved, and funded, and then the contract solicited and awarded, took us right up to the end of September. If I recall correctly, the contract was signed on about the 26th. By this time, the writing was on the wall from the higher headquarters in Kabul, and from the Pentagon, that the ‘Surge’ was winding down, withdrawal of forces would commence, and there would be no lasting need for these semi-permanent buildings, because the camp would either soon be closed or turned over to the Afghan forces.

So, on the 3rd of October, literally a week after finally signing the contract that had taken almost 9 months from initial request and requirements definition to contract award, the Marine HQs notified my contracting staff that the PEBs were no longer required, and could we please terminate the contract?

It’s funny now, except for when you consider the fact that US forces are once again increasing in Afghanistan to combat the resurgent Taliban. But at the time, it was pretty disheartening to witness first-hand the lack of coordination of political, military, and financial priorities that wasted hundreds of man-hours on procurement planning and execution.

Of course, what should have happened is the several layers of HQs should have held a huddle and status review on all pending projects, and made the decision before proceeding to contract award.  Fortunately, the contractor had not commenced work, or incurred any costs, so there were no termination costs to negotiate. It all just got erased, and we focused on the new FY and a new slate of requirements aimed at reducing, and eventually eliminating, our presence in that sector. As they say on neighborhood basketball courts, ‘no harm, no foul.’

Anyway, I am writing this to try to offer some insights into how literal the phrase ‘terminate for convenience’ can be, as the US Government changed its mind within days, and yanked the rug out from under a contractor that had landed $2.5 Million worth of work.

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If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

This episode is brought to you by Deltek.  https://www.deltek.com/en/products/business-development/govwinMemorial

Kevin and Paul discuss the importance of teaming decisions and how these decisions can impact winning and executing Government contracts.

Learn how the Government can drive and should care about Industry teaming decisions and why Industry needs to treat teaming as a critical part of the bid strategy and contract performance process.

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Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

If you work in the Government acquisition world, this podcast is for you. (not just for Contracting Officers!)

How does the Government determine that a price is fair and reasonable?  Analysis!

Kevin and Paul discuss the differences between price analysis and cost analysis (FAR 15.404-1) and why it is important to understand the requirements of each.  Learn how the Government can leverage the power of competition and how Industry can help the Government streamline the price/cost analysis process.

__________

Kevin Jans and Paul Schauer created the Contracting Officer Podcast to help Government and Industry acquisition professionals understand more about how the other side thinks.  Admittedly, the podcast’s name sounds very limiting.  It is not just for contracting officers or even just for those in the contracting profession.  Anyone with an interest in the Federal acquisition world can benefit from the insight and down-to-earth explanations of complicated topics provided by the hosts.

by Shelley Hall

During the performance of Government contracts, a contractor may encounter many circumstances that lead them to submit a Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA).  Examples include undisclosed site conditions on a construction contract, new requirements for additional levels of certification on a service contract, and requirement changes.  An REA is submitted to obtain additional compensation and/or time on a contract.

However, there are a few things you need to remember before you submit it:

The REA must be based on at least one contract provision. The REA has to be based on a contract or Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision. FAR 52.243-1 Changes – Fixed-Price; FAR 52.236-2 Differing Site Conditions; 52.222-44 Fair Labor Standards Act and Service Contract Labor Standards – Price Adjustment, are all clauses on which a contractor might base an REA.

I used to tell my trainees, “There’s no such thing as too much documentation in a contract file.”  The same applies to REAs.  You need to include all the details of why you are requesting the adjustment.  An REA that has detailed, prepared facts is going to get approved before one that does not.

Attachments can be crucial.  They should support the rest of the documentation.  E-mails, spreadsheets, timelines, etc., can all be valuable back-up for an REA.  Remember that personnel in contracting offices typically have a high turnover so back-up may be important when you are dealing with new folks who were not involved initially in the situation.

Contractors should submit an REA within 30 days of the change that created the REA. Note that once a contract has been officially closed out, no REA can be submitted.

Contract modifications often contain “release” statement that would prevent you from recovering on an REA. It was standard at every contract office I ever worked that you included a blanket release statement in every modification regardless of what it was for.  So review everything in a modification before signing it.

How long will it take to put the info together?  The time it takes you to prepare an REA may be recoverable as contract administration costs.

If you expect you will have a fight from the government (for whatever reason), obtain legal counsel.  Remember legal fees may be recoverable (reference FAR 31.205-33).

The REA process can be very frustrating for both sides.  The agency may fail to respond.  Requests for information may be issued from both sides and get lost in the process.  What if the REA is denied?

The bottom line is that the government should NEVER derive undue benefit from a contractor!  However, that does not mean that they will just simply give you the equitable adjustment.  Expect negotiations at the very least.  Be prepared.  Fight for what they owe you!

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