Acquisition planning is focus of March 3rd course

Want to learn about the Government’s policies and procedures for planning an acquisition?  How does the Government deal with required and preferred sources of supplies and services?  What must be done to ensure competition?

To answer these questions and many, many more, The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is presenting a one-week course beginning March 3, 2014, entitled CON 090-2: Contract Planning in the FAR.

By attending this course, students will learn all the types of contracts that may be used in acquisitions, special contracting techniques, the impact of socioeconomic programs, the use of special contract terms and conditions, the implications of contractor qualifications, and proper advertisement procedures.

The course provides vital instruction for Government contracting personnel as well as important insights for contractors.

CON 090-2 is the second of four modules from CON 090 – Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Fundamentals.  The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech offers CON 090 in four, one-week classes.  Each module stands on its own, allowing students multiple opportunities throughout the year to complete the entire CON 090 course without the challenge of being away from work or home for an entire month.

The course consists of limited lecture, and is heavily exercise-based.  Students should be prepared to dedicate about an hour each evening for reading.

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is an approved equivalency training provider to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and provides continuing education training to Acquisition and Government Contracting professionals as well as to business professionals working for government contractors or pursuing opportunities in the federal contracting arena.

False Claims Act overused, reform advocates say

The United States has come a long way since the Civil War era.

A once splintered nation torn apart by infighting is now whole, although an ideological split over hot-button political issues continues to keep the country divided.

Aside from an end to slavery and a patching up of our national identity, another thing to come out of the Civil War, at least on the legislative front, was the passage of the False Claims Act.

The measure was enacted with the goal of fighting profiteering by those who supplied the Union Army with things such as weapons and ammunition.

The measure, also referred to as “Lincoln’s Law,” allowed the government to hold contractors liable for bad faith dealings.

The False Claims Act came about during a time when contractors took advantage of wartime dependence to defraud the U.S. Government by dealing faulty ammunition and weaponry, sick live stock and tainted food rations, according to a summary of the statute on the website of the law firm Messa & Associates.

Today, however, court reform advocates maintain that the statute is being overused, and at times misused, by both the federal government and those who sue on behalf of the government.

The issue was touched upon this week in the nation’s capital during the 14th Annual Legal Reform Summit of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. (The ILR owns Legal Newsline.)

The ILR contends that while the statute was well intentioned, it has since been turned into a “lucrative money machine for plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients,” while simultaneously hurting businesses and U.S. taxpayers.

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Boeing told to repay DoD after charging $2,286 for $10 part

The Pentagon’s purchasing agency says Boeing Co. (BA) must refund $13.7 million in excessive prices charged on spare parts, including a $10 device for which the defense contractor charged $2,286 apiece.

The Defense Logistics Agency “is seeking a refund from Boeing,” spokeswoman Michelle McCaskill said in an e-mailed statement. “The refund will be for the full $13.7 million identified” and will be requested by July 31, she said.

The agency overpaid about $1.3 million for 573 of the aluminum “bearing sleeves” used on an aircraft’s main landing-gear door that should have cost $10 each, the Pentagon’s inspector general said in an audit labeled “For Official Use Only.”

Wasteful spending resulted from agency personnel failing to negotiate good deals or to perform adequate oversight, and from Boeing’s failure to pass on savings it won from subcontractors, according to the complete audit report. A summary of the findings was reported by Bloomberg News on June 7.

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Bid protest process cost effective way to promote private sector confidence, says Gordon

The benefits of bid protests outweigh costs because protests provide a  low-cost way for disgruntled participants to air their complaints, former Office  of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Daniel Gordon says in a paper to be published this year in the Public Law Contract Journal.

But the government shouldn’t investigate procurements unless they are  protested, the Gordon, who is currently a George Washington University Law  School professor, says.

“In blunt terms, if no one is dissatisfied with the way the government  conducted a procurement, then it may not be a wise use of auditors’ time to  investigate it,” Gordon writes in the paper.

It’s the bid protest process that gives companies confidence in the integrity of  the federal government’s procurement process, the paper says.

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Federal contractors failing to pay Afghan subcontractors, IG finds

U.S. contractors in war-torn Afghanistan have repeatedly failed to pay their subcontractors, prompting strikes, work stoppages and death threats at a time when U.S. forces are preparing to withdraw, a key inspector general warned on Thursday.

In an alert letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and regional diplomats, John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said that nearly a quarter — 183 out of 753 — of complaints to SIGAR’s hotline from 2009 through October 2012 were about Afghan prime contractor and subcontractor nonpayment issues. As a result, he said, his auditors have opened 52 investigations encompassing $69 million in payments owed. An additional 44 such complaints have been filed with the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Defense Department’s inspectors general over the past six years.

Missed payments have resulted in the delay of projects “promoting the stability of Afghanistan,” a belief among Afghan workers that the lapsed payments are the fault of the U.S. government, a threat by one subcontractor to set himself on fire in front of the U.S. embassy, and one threat to blow up a compound of U.S. contractors and government agencies, the letter said.

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Most top contractors increased business with federal government in 2012

A majority of the top 200 government contractors made more money on federal awards last year than in 2011, despite major budgetary cutbacks, according to a report released Wednesday.

Overall, the federal government spent $516.3 billion on contracts in fiscal 2012, down 3.1 percent from fiscal 2011’s total of $532.6 billion, the largest year-over-year decline in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1997, the analysis said. Sixty-four percent of that total went to the top 200 companies doing business with the government.

Bloomberg Government, which published the report, analyzed data from 24 agencies and departments, and in 20 categories of federal purchases. Bloomberg found that many contractors were able to maintain or increase business by focusing on sectors that were not subject to “budget pressures,” such as space vehicles, drones, health information technology and cybersecurity.

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Defense companies also worried about nondefense budget cuts

The defense industry’s loud campaign against sequestration has led many observers to believe those companies would be safe if steep cuts to the military budget under sequestration are avoided.

That’s a misperception. The defense industrial base is also concerned about possible cuts to the nondefense budget if the $109 billion in automatic cuts takes effect next year. Even if sequestration is averted, they worry about a fiscal-cliff deal that scales back overall discretionary spending in both defense and nondefense accounts. Now, with just a few days left for Congress and the White House to reach a deficit deal to avert the looming cuts, the defense industry is starting to speak up for the other side of the budget that could get the ax.

“It’s not just the defense industry or private-sector workers who are on the chopping block here, but nondefense programs and workers as well,” Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey said in a speech to the National Aeronautic Association on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.

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‘Byzantine warren of fiefdoms’ makes contracting fraud hard to stop

On a hot summer day in 2011, two men sat in a car outside of L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. Away from any offices, they arranged a secret deal — a $1 million bribe from a contractor in exchange for a $1 billion federal contract.

What the federal contracting officer accepting the bribe didn’t know, however, that the car was wired and the other man was an informant.

David Williams, the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general, said in a Sept. 6 speech that this example– for which he gave no additional detail — and other schemes prove that federal contracting fraud is lucrative — and that the government needs reinforcements to stop it.

“Bribery, extortion, kickbacks, false claims, foreign corrupt practices, and that’s just the freshman course in this business,” he said.

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New website links government contractors with former feds

A new website linking companies with former federal workers is set to launch in September. will match companies looking to quickly hire workers for contracts with former feds in search of a job. The site was founded by Ginger Groeber, a former human resources official in the Pentagon, and by Lockheed Martin Corp. The site is currently undergoing beta testing, but already lists many open positions.

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Vendors start to see contracts slowing down with sequestration looming

With every passing moment, agencies inch toward automatic spending cuts totaling more than $1 trillion. But a leader for one of the largest federal contractors is urging the government to act as if sequestration will not happen.

Uncertainty about how much money agencies will end up with in 2013 has prompted them to delay contract awards in the current year, said SAIC executive Debbie James in an interview with Federal News Radio as part of the week long multimedia series, Inside the World’s Biggest Buyer.

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