Poor contracting practices cited at Bureau of Land Management

A government employee who stepped into a contractor’s role is among the targets of a report criticizing contracting practices at the Bureau of Land  Management.

The Interior Department office of inspector general says in a recently-released report,  dated Sept. 30, that a BLM project officer placed a request to modify a contract, “in effect, representing the contractor.”

The project officer and the contracting officer involved had to be counseled  on proper contracting practices, the report says. At the time of the report, the  BLM was finalizing guidelines to outline the responsibilities and limitations of  contracting officers and project officers.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/poor-contracting-practices-blm/2013-10-29?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

A copy of the Interior Department’s IG report is at: http://www.doi.gov/oig/reports/upload/C-EV-BLM-0007-2011Public.pdf 

Comprehensive cost and price course kicks-off Oct. 14th

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a course focusing on the Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis in government contracting on October 14-25, 2013.

This comprehensive, two-week course begins with an in-depth review of the market research process, and provides instruction to help students understand and analyze contractor pricing strategies.

Attendees will learn to accomplish cost-volume-profit analysis, calculate contribution margin estimates, and develop cost estimating relationships in order to accomplish an effective price analysis pursuant to FAR Subpart 15.4.

After learning the basic elements of price and cost analysis, students will build and defend a pre-negotiation objective, including a minimum and maximum pricing objective with a weighted guidelines assessment. After successfully defending their pricing objectives, the students will practice face-to-face negotiations.

This course is targeted toward new hires to the contracting career field.   For government contractors, this course also provides valuable insights into the government contracting decision-making process.

Student performance will be assessed by graded exams on math fundamentals and applied course material as well as an exercise for student participation and completion of negotiations.

CON 170 – Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis is Defense Acquisition University-equivalent training that satisfies the FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs.   In addition, 7.35 CEUs are granted for successful course completion.

For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-170-fundamentals-cost-and-price-analysis

Cost and price course scheduled in October

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering a course focusing on the Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis in government contracting on October 14-25, 2013.

This comprehensive, two-week course begins with an in-depth review of the market research process, and provides instruction to help students understand and analyze contractor pricing strategies.

Attendees will learn to accomplish cost-volume-profit analysis, calculate contribution margin estimates, and develop cost estimating relationships in order to accomplish an effective price analysis pursuant to FAR Subpart 15.4.

After learning the basic elements of price and cost analysis, students will build and defend a pre-negotiation objective, including a minimum and maximum pricing objective with a weighted guidelines assessment. After successfully defending their pricing objectives, the students will practice face-to-face negotiations.

This course is targeted toward new hires to the contracting career field.   For government contractors, this course also provides valuable insights into the government contracting decision-making process.

Student performance will be assessed by graded exams on math fundamentals and applied course material as well as an exercise for student participation and completion of negotiations.

CON 170 – Fundamentals of Cost & Price Analysis is Defense Acquisition University-equivalent training that satisfies the FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs.   In addition, 7.35 CEUs are granted for successful course completion.

For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-170-fundamentals-cost-and-price-analysis

Acquiring services: How the feds can get it right

For the fifth consecutive year, the federal government has spent more on the purchase of services than any other type of contract spending. And yet, the Department of Defense has made little progress in improving how they buy services, and civilian agencies have yet to even spell out a strategy.

It was appropriate that the department’s April 2013 release of its Better Buying Power (BBP) 2.0 memo included a major component titled “Improving Tradecraft in Acquisition of Services,” with six specific actions required to be taken. But while BBP 2.0 carried forward several of the initiatives for services that were included in the original BBP memo issued in September 2010, there has been little progress made by the department in reaching those original objectives.

Still, at least DOD has a plan. While the Office of Management and Budget has issued some government-wide directives requiring reductions in spending on services, the civilian agencies, which annually commit a greater percentage of their contract spending on services than does DOD, have not spelled out any comprehensive acquisition strategy focused on services.

The first step on the path to improving the tradecraft in services is to recognize that there are wide variations in the types of services government buys, and that each type requires some specialized market research and skills to acquire them. For example, there is a considerable difference between how the Department Homeland Security acquires information technology services from how the Department of Energy acquires environmental remediation and management services. Thus, at the Professional Services Council, we have been strong advocates for reexamining the taxonomy of services and focusing on the key differences in these acquisitions.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2013/06/acquiring-services-how-feds-can-get.html?page=all

Federal IT funds circle the drain due to poor procurement policies

It may seem like a simple thing to fix — if the U.S. government wants more vendors to compete for contracts, just ask more companies to take part. However, those looking to reform the procurement process are running into snags that favor the status quo, and a new survey shows just how much money is wasted. A greater emphasis on open standards and boosting the role of CIOs are two possible solutions now being studied.

Federal agencies routinely pass up opportunities to improve information technology performance, and save money at the same time, by failing to seek vendor competition in the procurement process, according to a recent survey.

Federal IT professionals revealed that their agencies could save as much as $15.8 billion per year — about 20 percent of annual IT spending — by being more aggressive in utilizing multiple vendors in a more competitive environment for infrastructure projects.

The survey of 208 federal specialists was conducted in January by MeriTalk, an online community of public and private sector IT professionals.

Reporting on the survey in early March, MeriTalk said that 95 percent of respondents believe there are benefits to using more than one vendor in an area of their infrastructure, and 44 percent believe that adding a vendor drives down acquisition costs. However, five percent of agencies reported that their entire IT infrastructure uses just one vendor, and another 23 percent use just two or three.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/77636.html.

Contract planning is Academy’s next course in July

Ever wondered how the Government plans its acquisition of products and services?

  • As a contractor, wouldn’t you like to gain insights into the process?
  • As a member of the acquisition team, don’t you need to learn how to conduct acquisition planning properly?

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech will address these questions, and much more, in a five-day class, “Contract Planning in the FAR” (CON090-2) to be presented July 8 – 12, 2013.

This in-depth course covers all aspects of acquisition planning, including how to conduct market research, how to describe buying needs, and the preference for the acquisition of commercial and non-developmental items.

This course is the second module in a series of four educational modules that examine the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Government’s “procurement bible.”

  • For government contracting officers, this course is required to maintain a contracting warrant.   A warrant is a written document providing a contracting officer with the limits of his or her authority.   Per FAR 1.601-2, Contracting Officers have the authority to “enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings” to the extent of the authority delegated to them by their warrant.   Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy offers a set of courses — each equivalent to Defense Acquisition University course standards — that help contractng officials maintain their warrants and enhance professional development.
  • For businesspeople who compete for and fulfill government contracts, Academy classes are equally pertinent.  Contractor personnel who attend Academy courses gain real-world knowledge about how government officials are trained to formulate and administer contracts.   Insights in these areas provide invaluable guidance pertinent to reaching greater success in competing for, winning, and fulfilling government contract work.

Georgia Tech offers the entire CON 090 course series in world-class facilities on its campus in midtown Atlanta.  For groups of 10 or more, Georgia Tech also brings any of its government contracting courses to the workplace.

For details on all classes, including the FAR Fundamentals course, please visit http://www.pe.gatech.edu/Subjects/Acquisition-Government-Contracting.   To make arrangements for any of the courses to be taught at your place of work, email us at: info@ContractingAcademy.gatech.edu or give us a call at 404-894-6109.

Acquisition executives figuring out how to deal with budget woes

Agency chief acquisition officers are not playing a big role in planning for sequestration or even future budget cuts.

An exclusive Federal News Radio surveyof federal CAOs and senior procurement executives found 57 percent of the respondents said they are not preparing for smaller budgets.

Joe Jordan, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the survey responses weren’t that surprising.

“With the budget situation overall, agencies have some good foreknowledge usually into what their agency’s budget will look like,” Jordan said in an exclusive interview on In-Depth with Francis Rose. “The important thing is to make sure that planning is integral to the acquisition process overall, make sure agencies are doing good acquisition forecasting, creating robust plans and conducting the appropriate market research, so they can cast a wide net for new businesses that can deliver the goods and services they need in the best possible way.”

(Click on image to enlarge.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 15 percent of the 53 CAOs and SPEs responded to Federal News Radio’s questions conducted in August 2012. This is the a second biannual survey of CAOs.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3062540/Acquisition-executives-figuring-out-how-to-deal-with-budget-woes-

FAR clause on small business R&D set asides to be confusing no more

The writers of federal regulations controlling procurements say a clause telling contracting officers when to set aside research and development contracts worth more than the simplified acquisition threshold needs clarification.

In an Aug. 10 notice in the Federal Register, the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council says language in FAR 19.502-2(b) regarding setting aside R&D contracts for small businesses when worth more than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $150,000) is the subject of a clarification request from the Small Business Administration.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/far-clause-small-business-rd-set-asides-be-confusing-no-more/2012-08-20?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss.

In acquisition, more meetings might not be a waste of time

For the past few years, it seems that every conference, seminar and executive session in Washington, D.C., that deals with federal acquisition management dwells, at least in part, on the need for better collaboration and communication between government and industry. Add to that the General Services Administration’s BetterBuy project, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s myth-busters initiative, the Obama administration’s 25-point plan for improving IT management — the list goes on and on.

In my opinion, we can’t talk about it enough. However, improving government/industry communication is more difficult than simply saying we need to do it. There are many reasons for the difficulty, but let’s look at two in particular: culture and bandwidth.

At last month’s Acquisition Excellence 2012 conference sponsored by GSA and the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, posed a great question to the audience: “Has communication between government and industry gotten better in the past couple of years?”

The answers varied widely. On reflection, some organizations are easier to communicate and collaborate with than others, and the difference generally stems from culture, not policy. If agencies don’t encourage employees to reach out — or if they punish them for doing so — employees won’t make the effort.

The culture is beginning to change. In both government and industry, senior acquisition leaders have become more accessible and have begun to beat the drum for better communication and collaboration. Also, the younger generation’s adoption of social media as a method to stay in touch — that is, to communicate and collaborate — is also changing the way we all interact. That’s a good thing. Still, a fear of openly communicating and collaborating is still widespread in the middle ranks of many organizations.

One thing that might help is to keep having events where industry and government can participate at a professional and social level, such as the recent conference. Barriers start to come down when folks can interact in a “safe” environment where they can discuss their challenges and engage one another in dialogue, thus increasing their awareness, understanding and empathy (yes, empathy) for one another. Professional organizations, industry associations and public/private partnerships play a big role in opening communication and encouraging collaboration.

Another big issue is bandwidth. Today, we are all frightfully busy, and it is tough to find any time to meet with people who are not directly involved with our immediate priorities. Additionally, we all spend so much time in meetings already that the thought of having more of them is unappealing. After all, we have “real” work to accomplish.

The problem is that spending time understanding the market, the mission requirements, the technology, the vendor, the agency, etc., is part of our real work. And with extremely tight budgets on the horizon, that understanding is more important than ever. By sharing their experiences, industry and government acquisition professionals might find ways to reduce costs and stretch every dollar, whether taxpayer or corporate, as far as possible. So we need to make the time.

Industry can help by scheduling short, focused meetings with their government contacts and recognizing that none of us have time to waste.

So although communication and collaboration are happening more and more, we need to keep the pressure up, and we need to be patient. Changing culture takes a lot of time and effort. Let’s keep up the good work!

About the Author: Peter G. Tuttle, CPCM, is senior procurement policy analyst for Distributed Solutions Inc., an acquisition consulting firm, and a fellow at the National Contract Management Association.  This article was published by Federal Computer Week on Apr. 6, 2012 at http://fcw.com/articles/2012/05/15/comment-peter-tuttle-acquisition-collaboration-communication.aspx?s=fcwdaily_100412.

Government marketing workshop offered May 16th

Businesses seeking insights into how to market to the government will want to pay attention to this.

In partnership with American Express OPEN, the Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is proud to offer a free, three-hour workshop entitled “Victory in Procurement: Marketing to the Federal Government.”

Especially designed for small business owners, this event will teach you how to effectively pitch your business to the government and provide:

  • Insights into how to select which government agencies to target and how to get meetings with them,
  • Tips and tactics for improving your elevator pitch and capabilities statement,
  • Sample elevator pitches and capabilities statements,
  • Advice from a panel of government buyers and successful small business owners,
  • Interactive, roll-up-your-sleeves round-table exercises where you’ll hone your new-found skills.

The event will be held on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at the Tech Square Research Building (TSRB), located at 85 Fifth St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.   The workshop will take place from 9:00 am until 12 noon.

Pre-registration is required.  Click here to pre-register.  Due to space limitations, walk-ins on the day of the event will not be allowed.

A flyer describing this event can be downloaded by clicking here.

For directions, please visit http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/directions-to-tsrb.  Remember, you must pre-register in order to attend.