For all the contracts we had bid on, we were required to submit the proposals and revisions in multiple paper copies. This mandate delays the communication between us and the contracting agencies and it consumes a lot of paper. An electronic submission system can streamline this into a much more efficient and environmentally friendly process.
2. Procurement Rules and Practices
Question 1: What are the most effective ways to encourage innovative offers and best solutions?
Question 2: How can we reduce the cost of transactions for contractors?
Question 3: What are the best ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of acquisitions for information technology?
Question 4: What procurement rules or practices are most effective and which are least effective and why?
if Congress stopped requiring procurment to spend their full budget every year, gov't would be more creative with their spending and more careful. Now it's - we have the money, give it to them; and when the money ois gonem the project stops. When we negotiate, we should SAVE money to use on something else FOR something else to get more bang for the buck and spread more money around to small businesses.
Many RFPs with an IT component require that the government own the code. This means a "build it" approach for ALL of these vs. buy it. Ok, Healthcare.gov has been discussed endlessly but this is still a good example. There was zero reason to build from ground up other than that I assume the procurement required ownership. Many modules could have been purchased from other vendors for this and MANY other procurements. ...more »
The government should be less reluctant to bar vendors with poor federal contract past performance from participating in federal business opportunities, or should otherwise provide a centralized resource for reporting and reviewing past performance on federal contracts. The bar for being placed on EPLS is alarmingly high. While it makes sense that the government would be cautious and judicious in adding a registered contractor ...more »
The federal procurement community should create a document that outlines the most common regulations with which buyers must comply, in a way the average (non-contracting) person could understand. This would give vendors more insight into why contracting officers make the decisions they do, leading to less frustration and fewer questions. This would also create more accountability on part of the purchasing agent to with ...more »
The government may be able to increase the likelihood of new vendor participation (particularly among small businesses) if it lowers the ‘barrier of entry’ to doing business with the government through contractor registration simplification. One of the most common complaints from Sellers new to Federal procurement is the process of needing to register with multiple databases (DUNS, SAM, ORCA, IPP) before a vendor can ...more »
Certainly there are many changes to the FAR possible to improve its shortcomings. Beyond that, however, Contract Specialists, Administrative Contracting Officers, legal contract reviewers, and the many program staff members that provide input to Procurement can improve the acquisition process. There are no hindrances to government personnel coming together to create internal metrics, to improve accountability, timeliness ...more »
Establish upfront timelines for procurements and establish a performance metric or incentive for meeting those timelines. There is currently no incentive to meet procurement schedules. Extensions and delays should be the exception, not the norm. Delays are not only inefficient to meeting the mission goals but the longer cycles also hinder innovation and cost money. Industry requires predictability to manage their ...more »
Attached is a statement by a company that has done business on federal contracts making the point that it is hard to compete against vendors who cut corners on wages and other required standards.
Use of Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection procedures has increased considerably in recent years and in many cases it is being used inappropriately when the government is not acquiring commodity goods and services. If the product or service cannot be well defined, so that all competitiors are effectively competing on supplying the same product or service, LPTA shouls not be used. Also, if there ...more »
Issue: The Relationship between Buyers, Acquirers, and Suppliers is increasingly silo-ed and divisive versus engaged in collaborative problem solving. Recent events and articles have highlighted the need for increased collaboration and alignment between business/IT sponsors, procurement organizations, and suppliers/contracts. PSC’s Commission Report, “From Crisis to Opportunity”, as well as NCMA’s recent article, “Becoming ...more »
The FAR should reflect best practices in the private sector and many state construction (15 or so) programs by requiring prime contractors to list/name primary subcontractors in low-price award procedures (like proposed in HR 1942). Since the 1984 Competition in Contracting Act, federal agencies have run away from construction project low-bid prime contract award procedures because of the claims and disputes that were ...more »
There is no reason for proposal instructions to not match evaluation criteria, which happens more often than not. This should be a required quality check for any procurement, as it will facilitate the proposal writing and the proposal evaluation process. This simple requirement will result in time and cost savings across the board.
Question 2: How can we reduce the cost of transactions for contractors? Answer: I recently worked for a company that allowed the employees to post their own time-card. There are too many people that are NOT trust-worthy enough (especially a very large company) to allow this to happen. We actually had to log in and log out electronically, but I heard stories of people that would enter more hours worked than they ...more »
With the Government’s policy to restrict use of “high risk” contracts, many instances exist where the best suited contract types are not utilized. This includes cost reimbursement and time and material (T&M)/labor hour (LH) types. It is especially evident in IT development projects. In many cases such as when using Agile, T&M/LH makes sense and the insistence on fixed price either drives up cost unnecessarily and/or ...more »
Issue: Major information technology (IT) investments frequently exceed original cost and schedule estimates and, in some cases, deliver very little useable capability. One key driver of these outcomes is the continued preference to develop solutions in-house rather than structure programs to allow for increased use of existing commercial solutions that can be rapidly deployed, often under firm-fixed price arrangements. ...more »
One possible solution to reduce the complexity associated with commercial item acquisition would be to address the burden of providing Commercial Sales Practices ("CSP") information in response to large contract solicitations (e.g. FSS, VA National Contract, DHA E-CAT). While we acknowledge that CSPs may be helpful to enable the determination of fair and reasonable pricing, the nature and type of data requested varies ...more »
For IDIQ orders for services (including construction) the true competition takes place at the task order level. The unit prices established at the "umbrella" contract level are essentially meaningless to knowing what the actual cost of work is, yet CICA requires that we establish binding prices. This is particularly problematic for services, where the quantities of units can vary greatly contractor to contract, and ...more »
The FAR currently contemplates two solutions to resolve the impact of corporate acquisitions and/or reorganization on federal contractors under the Anti-Assignment Act: the Novation process and a Name Change agreement. We propose that a third avenue be established to address situations in which, due to internal restructuring, the legal entity has changed but the parent company remains the same. In these instances, ...more »
Protests are expensive for industry to process and for the government to defend against. The government can reduce the likelihood of protests and improve the effectiveness of the procurement process by providing training to officials involved in solicitation preparation, proposal evaluation, and source selection on lessons already learned. For example, GAO’s Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress for FY2013 noted that ...more »
It’s easier to recognize a great idea, than it is to invent one! Using performance-based acquisition (PBA) and statements of objectives (SOO) allows the government to state it’s desired outcomes or objectives, while asking contractors to propose innovative solutions to meet the government’s need. PBA structures all aspects of an acquisition around the desired outcomes of the government’s requirement and ensures the ...more »
Not to be derogatory but the government needs to hire more
(knowledgeable) buyers and contracting officers and engineers. This has a big impact on delays and delivery schedule.
Reenact the pre-award survey, not desk audits. This will illuminate contractors that can not perform , right up front, and not delay the procuring process and require re-solicitation.
Remove the intermediaries so the contractor can talk directly to the buyer or contracting officer when an issue arises.The intermediaries have no value added but do delay manufacturing and delivery schedule. They have no authority and just convey info. (very slowly)
Revise the process procedure review approval cycle. If a contractor has had a process ( welding, plating etc) procedure approved ,why does it have to be approved again? If the procedure has not changed and it falls into a set time frame ( i.e. 12 mths) , why resubmit. There should be a approval letter that the contractor can submit and the 30 or 45 or more days cycle can be reduced to 1 or 2 days.
Remove reverse auctions. They are a large waste of time and the process can not benefit the government and save any money.
The PQDR process needs to be revised. Why does a contractor have to take extraordinary steps for the Government to remove a PQDR from the system that the contractor has proven was incorrect and the products meet the contract and requirements. The PQDR system is reviewed when a contracting officers is considering and award. False reports can impact getting awards.
Requiring names of key personnel prior to solicitation is a barrier to entry for small businesses and favors incumbents. Small businesses don't have a cadre of key personnel that they can commit to contracts that are still in the solicitation phase. Incumbents can, because they can propose the same people that are working on the contract. Large businesses can also, because they're large. Acquisition teams should be ...more »
It seems that FAPIIS and CO’s do not look closely enough at a contractor’’ entire record, and that they look primarily at whether the company has been caught violating the law or cheating workers on federal contracts. This makes no sense. Contractors who cheat workers or who cut corners elsewhere are just as likely to do that on a federal job if it increases their bottom line, and they should not be rewarded with more ...more »
Given the breadth of the complaints, perhaps it is time to create a new major panel similar to the Section 800 panel to address this issues in depth and systematically. Such a group could have the support of both the Congress and the Administration and the product of that group would be much more likely to obtain broad support, as FASA received overwhelming bi-partisan approval and resulted in significant change.
GSA needs to have a single senior manager to advance the Schedules Program. This +30Billion dollar program needs to be updated to allow significant taxpayer savings and eliminate contract duplication.There is no one in charge of this multi-billion dollar commercial services and products program.
See attached document for details.
Currently there is a Commercial Items test programs that allows use of SAP up to $6.5M for commercial items, or NDIs that have been sold to State and Local Governments. Unfortunately some design activities are wary about providing commercial item determinations because they fear it could cause them to lose control of the item to another design activity or lose Quality Assurance capabilities. There is also a military ...more »
The time is right for a public policy discussion contrasting the SWOT for fully outsourcing government IT - no longer would government own, maintain, and upgrade IT infrastructure or application development, but instead private industry would provide government with secure cloud-based DaaS/SaaS that would accelerate commercial as well as government security, convenience, affordability, and trust compared to ownership. ...more »
The dollar cost involved in the production of a proposal has already been broken down in other Ideas. I would like to add the human cost to the mix. It seems to be standard practice for solicitations to be released right before the Acquisition Office leaves for the week or season. It is common for Industry to receive a solicitation on a Friday afternoon, or a couple of days before a major holiday (this seems especially ...more »
Rewrite FAR Part 17.207 for options. Flip the requirement for due diligence to focus on those contracts where the option will NOT be exercised rather than when it will be exercised. Probably 99.99% of options are exercised each fiscal year. This is a huge resource drain on COs and keeps contractors in limbo for no reason. Eliminate this pencil whip exercise so that COs can focus on getting the funding modification correct ...more »
Contractors are supposed to submit their initial best offer because award might be done without discussion. But we all know that once the contractors are ranked and graded and the competitive range is established, most of the time, the Contracting officer will issue a request for Best and Final Offer. Proposal development is costly. Multiple submissions also cost money. Contracting Officers are "required" to always ask ...more »
Having held a GSA contract for years, I make the following observations/recommendations: 1) There needs to be a mandated response time from GSA COs and buyers. We had a CO that never returned e-mails or calls. Truly never. We finally got transferred to a new officer but it still can take days to get responses. If there were no deadlines, that would be great. The same holds true for buyers who are responsible for ...more »
IRS and CAGE validation can take 2 weeks for contractors updating their annual registration. The problem is companies doing business with agencies are ineligible from receiving contracts/contract awards until the validation process is complete. The process should be changed for conmpanies renewing their annual registration or adding new NAICS etc. Companies could potentially lose business and bid & proposal cost as ...more »
In addition to requiring a pre solicitation phase in all procurements over a certain threshold to be determined by Agency Contracting Head, I would recommend a more involved use of performance based acquisition practices for initial strategy adoption and O&M efforts in information technology. This includes the occasional coupling with incentive based contracting where appropriate. When these parts of the FAR are used ...more »
As a small business, we had a gap of 4 months just for an office to exercise an option on our IDIQ. Despite our requests, it was not clear who was responsible for each step in the process and where things fell down. Revealing the steps, person responsible and due dates will prevent small businesses from suffering when government people don't do their job. Somehow, government acquisition people need to be held accountable. ...more »
Poor requirements or a willingness to change requirements on the fly continues to waste taxpayers' money in IT projects. Surety bonds are used to guaranty performance of federal construction projects and should be used for IT projects. Although it is seen as a way to hold the contractor accountable, it can and should be used to hold the buyer accountable. Senior officials should require bonds and use them as a method ...more »
Despite a growing body of evidence that fixating on costs actually increases them, acquisition personnel insist on making every transaction cost-based. Sections 2379 and 2306a(d) of Title 10, USC, for instance, provide limited authority to obtain cost and pricing information for major weapons systems and their component parts where certified cost data are not required. This authority is over-applied in practice and ...more »
In business, time is money. In war, time is lives. Companies and the warfighter alike are threatened by the glacial pace of current procurement cycles. Purchases that have always taken months now take years. As prominent authorities on policy have noted (citing examples such as unmanned systems and MRAP), the USG often has the most success when bypassing the system entirely: “When it is necessary to go around the ...more »
If the USG did not pay for development, it has no skin in the game. Include a presumption under FAR 2.101 that an item is commercial if developed entirely at private expense. Such items can be purchased at firm fixed prices and with no schedule or development risk to the USG. These advantages are undercut, however, if such items cannot be purchased efficiently (or at all). The increased transaction costs and complex ...more »
If a member of the Chief Acquisition Officers Council has never participated with a contractor in developing a formal proposal in response to a Federal solicitation, each is encouraged to engage one of the Agency contractor’s and ask to observe the (painful and expensive) processes industry goes through to respond to a Federal solicitation, particularly a high dollar value procurement involving submission of a complex ...more »
Issue: Intellectual property rights as currently set forth in GSA Schedule contracts are unclear, cumbersome and unduly burdensome for contractors. The End User License Agreement (EULA) requirements remain unclear in IT Schedule 70. As such, each license agreement must be reviewed by the contracting officer and legal counsel. Recommendation: A basic set of terms should be developed that identify the key requirements ...more »
Issue: Restrictive experience requirements under the GSA Schedule program. For example, under IT Schedule 70 a company must have been in business for at least two years to be eligible for a contract. The GSA Schedule experience requirements limit access to new, innovation companies providing cutting edge technologies. It is an unnecessary barrier to entry to the federal market place. Recommendation: Eliminate the mandatory ...more »
Issue: The overly complex, burdensome ordering procedures for the establishment of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) under the GSA Schedules program. Specifically the preference for multiple award BPAs over single award BPAs. The strong preference of multiple award BPAs undermines the ability of customer agencies to achieve best value outcomes using the GSA Schedules program. It essentially limits the tools in the tool ...more »
Issue: Contract Duplication. Across the federal enterprise there has been an explosion in the number of multiple award IDIQ contracts for the same or similar services. Contract duplication increases bid and proposal and administrative costs for customer agencies and contractors. Contractors are compelled to compete for contracts for fear of being locked out of a market. At the same time there are many IDIQ contracts ...more »
Issue: Reform the MAS Pricing Policies. Specifically, eliminate the Price Reduction Clause (PRC), GSAR Clause 552.238-75. The current MAS pricing policies do not reflect current practices in the commercial market place. The pricing policies are inconsistent with the statutory and regulatory mandates for competition at the order level. The increased transactional and contract administration costs for compliance with the ...more »
Issue: Failure to incorporate/utilize FAR 52.212-4, Alternate I in Multiple Award Schedule contracts. This gap in the MAS program limits competition, increases costs, fosters contract duplication and reduces efficiency. FAR 52.121-4, Alternate I provides the contract mechanism/procedures for including Materials, Other Direct Costs and Indirect Costs in commercial item contracts. The failure to utilize this FAR-based ...more »
Over the last decade, the number of laws, regulations and provisions that apply to commercial item have dramatically increased. For example, in 1996 under 52.212-5(b) there were 17 provisions of law or executive orders identified as applicable to commercial item contracts. In 2012, the number has climbed to 51. The resulting explosion of statutes and regulations applicable to commercial item contracting increases complexity, ...more »
The FAR needs a top to bottom scrubbing as well as some thought as to how its utility could be improved. Many sections of the FAR were developed years ago or pieced together from predecessor regulations dating back to the 60s when Federal procurement was supply-focused. Other sections of the FAR are a patchwork of concepts that, while "politically correct" at inception, no longer suit the needs of modern procurement and ...more »
The most ironic display of waste in the federal acquisition system is multiple websites referencing the FAR. There needs to be one, and just one, government-run website referencing the FAR with all the benefits of the other sites.
Contracting officers and specialists spend days each year going through proposal spreadsheets, correcting unintentional errors, and performing price analyses, cost analyses, and cost realism analyses. Technologically, the US is easily at the point where offerors can log into a single, web-based application and key in their data in designated fields. The fields automatically catch adding errors and rounding errors, which ...more »
It is expensive, time consuming and distracting for small businesses to prepare proposals. For some of the larger federal contractors in the Department of Energy, a new method of "Award Term" has been used to reward exemplary performance by addiing additional years to the term of the contract for each year of high performance. This would help many small businesses who often invest a year or two of profit on a three-five ...more »
A significant challenge in procuring cloud-enabled IT services involves structuring an appropriate method of payment. For something simple, like Infrastructure as a Service, agencies should be able to contract directly with a cloud service provider without having to fund upfront (in effect, pre-paying) for a projected level of service consumption. These types of procurement arrangements are typically fixed price. This ...more »
The Federal Government is always interested to implement activities which are "Best Practices" in the Private Sector. I would like to suggest that one of these "Best Practices" is the Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). In the Private Sector, whenever a new policy is being considered, a CBA is performed to evaluate whether to proceed with the new policy. Unfortunately, a CBA was never performed for the Federal Strategic Sourcing ...more »
Notwithstanding the OFPP Act's intent to create a thoughtful,disciplined, and limited regulatory system, Federal agencies have increasingly ignored the system's requirements and proliferated duplicative, conflicting, unnecessary, and ill-designed local requirements that greatly frustrate the contracting community. Most disturbing is the rampant failure to: 1) follow statutory requirements for publicizing and obtaining ...more »
innovation in IT products and services in today's solutions will require collaboration by Budget, Procurement, and IT executives. many companies are frustrated at the inability of government to develop procurements that will actually allow for companies to offer different BUSINESS ENGAGEMENTS, rather than technologies alone. alternatives which will allow for companies to offer investments (with longer term financial ...more »
Prime contractors would like to work with subs that bring new capabilities to agencies, and this may be the easiest way for new firms to enter the Federal market. But most believe, based on history with agency proposal reviews, that a non-Federal subcontractor’s lack of past Federal performance will count against them (or at least will have no impact). Guidance should be issued that past performance from teaming partners/subcontractors ...more »
Transformation Innovation in IT/Services Acquisition: We must have open communication and collaboration with industry from day 1 of a new (large) procurement. Government publishes OMB 300, Report 15s and program-specific strategy on public website. Hold monthly Industry Days to openly communicate with Industry, verify requirements, get innovative ideas, and utilize digital market research. Utilize non-profits to assist ...more »
Rather than continually develop more government unique rules and regulations, encourage the use of commercial business practices and standards in procurement/acquisition. Why? Creates opportunity for government to benefit from innovations, technologies and services found in the broad marketplace. Lowers the cost of doing business with the government for companies. Allows quicker incorporation of latest technologies ...more »