HOME  |  CONTENTS  |  DISCUSSIONS  DISCUSSION ARCHIVES  |  BLOG  |  QUICK-KITs|  STATES

Loading
Articles for 2017
THE FAR: Does It Have Contractual Force And Effect?

By Vernon J. Edwards & Ralph C. Nash

This material from The Nash & Cibinic Report has been reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Thomson Reuters. Further use without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. For additional information or to subscribe, call 1-800-344-5009 or visit Thompson Reuters Legal Solutions.  The Nash & Cibinic Report is now available on Westlaw. Visit westlaw.com.

Everyone knows that the Federal Acquisition Regulation applies to Government acquisitions.  But what does that mean, exactly? Applies to what? To whom? How? It appears that there is some confusion, as can be seen in a recent decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc., ASBCA 59508, 2016 WL 7655944 (Dec. 16, 2016). The case involved disputes under two support services contracts.  (2/1/17)

Please read:  THE FAR: Does It Have Contractual Force And Effect?

”HIGHEST TECHNICALLY RATED OFFERORS WITH FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICING”: A New Source Selection Technique

By Ralph C. Nash & Vernon J. Edwards

This material from The Nash & Cibinic Report has been reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Thomson Reuters. Further use without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. For additional information or to subscribe, call 1-800-344-5009 or visit Thompson Reuters Legal Solutions.  The Nash & Cibinic Report is now available on Westlaw. Visit westlaw.com.

In 2013, the General Services Administration devised a new source selection technique to select contractors for its One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) Government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs). After winning a protest in Octo Consulting Group, Inc. v. U.S., 117 Fed. Cl. 334 (2014), the GSA has announced that it intends to use this new technique on the follow-on ALLIANT GWACs. These indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts are so important that a detailed analysis of this new technique is warranted.  1/29/17

Please read:  "HIGHEST TECHNICALLY RATED OFFERORS WITH FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICING”: A New Source Selection Technique.

Articles for 2016
How Many Bid Protests Is Too Many?

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD, CFCM, Owner, Christoph LLC  (biography)

Copyright 2016, National Contract Management Association. Posted with permission.

For the first time ever, GAO chose to ban a protestor from filing any bid protests with GAO for a period of one year. But was GAO's sanction against this protestor justified? Will it withstand scrutiny? Does GAO actually possess the power to put both a protesting firm and its principal into a 365-day "time out" from filing any bid protests? This article examines this GAO decision, GAO's justifications for its action, and the powers granted to GAO through statute and regulation-- and also features an interview with the principal of the banned firm to hear the other side of the story.

Please read:  How Many Bid Protests Is Too Many?

Sticks and Stones:  How Words and Terms of Art Can Hurt the Contracting Profession

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD, CFCM, Owner, Christoph LLC  (biography)

Contracting professional need precision in words and terms, as contract interpretation turns on minute differences in terminology and definitions.  Misuse of terms of art in the contracting profession leads to confusion, misunderstanding, and pernicious misconceptions.  Clarity in contracting language improves professionalism and avoids inefficient or wasteful procedures.  Read on to explore several flagrantly abused terms of art regarding justifications and scope of the contract.

Please read:  Sticks and Stones: How Words and Terms of Art Can Hurt the Contracting Profession.

Articles for 2015
FAR 8.405-2 Acquisitions vs. FAR 15 Negotiated Procurement

By Christopher E. Harris, CFCM, CPCM

Acquisitions conducted under the authority of FAR 8.405-2, "Ordering Procedures that Require a SOW" often resemble negotiated procurements. Even though 8.405-2 acquisitions are not governed by FAR 15, the standards generally applicable to negotiated procurement may apply. This paper highlights where the standards are the same and where deviations are allowable. In addition, this paper offers suggestions on how the contracting officer may implement simplified procedures without violating applicable standards.

Please read:  FAR 8.405-2 Acquisitions vs. FAR 15 Negotiated Procurement
 

Market Research--A Tale of Two Markets

By Christopher E. Harris, CFCM, CPCM

In today’s complex operational contracting environment, there are competing goals that must be balanced in order to forge optimal solutions. Arguably the four most important goals in acquisition are: competition, obtaining goods and services at fair and reasonable prices; providing maximum practicable opportunity for small businesses; and ensuring the highest-quality mission execution. To deliver viable solutions, the contracting professional must have a sound understanding of the laws, regulations, and policies that affect execution of contract requirements—especially during the requirements formation and source selection phase of an acquisition. The correct application of the law results in the elimination of unnecessary steps in the acquisition process and allows the contracting professional to deliver cutting-edge solutions while accomplishing most—if not all—of the Government’s priorities.

The key to successfully balancing these important priorities is knowledge-based action. In order for contracting knowledge to be actionable, it must inform the contracting professional of what is required. Once contracting professionals know what is required, they are equipped to know what is optional and the range of solutions that may be crafted to meet the Government needs. This foundational understanding is the engine of innovation and efficiency. A contracting professional armed with actionable knowledge is now prepared to navigate the laws and regulations based on what they actually say vice operating in accordance with urban legend. This makes the contracting professional a better collaborator/negotiator with other stakeholders (whose assertions are sometimes contrary to law and regulation) in the acquisition process and equips them to deliver products and services effectively while delivering maximum value to the tax payers.

This treatise will focus on market research and acquisition planning in the Federal Supply Schedule and open market because these activities are arguably the most important activities that are performed in an acquisition, but they are also the two areas where inaccuracies are perpetuated and wasted effort abounds. The traditional processes and efforts are lauded as thorough, complete and conscientious, but these methods often obstruct the execution of requirements in the most optimal manner. That is—in a way that furthers an optimal mix of Government priorities.  (February 2015)

Please read Market Research--A Tale of Two Markets
 

Articles for 2014

Gifts, Hospitality & the Government Contractor

By Jessica Tillipman, The George Washington University Law School

Briefing Papers, Westlaw.com

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The government procurement process demands the highest commitment to ethical and unbiased conduct. To ensure that the individuals involved in the procurement process adhere to these standards, government entities in nearly all jurisdictions around the world have enacted codes of conduct, ethical restrictions, and anti-corruption laws designed to protect the integrity of government and ensure that government officials act impartially and do not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual. To further these goals, most jurisdictions have enacted restrictions on the gifts and hospitality that government officials may accept from individuals and organizations that sell goods and services to the government.

While gifts and hospitality play an important role in facilitating and strengthening business relationships in the private sector, in the public sector, common business courtesies may appear as an attempt to influence a government official and the procurement process. This concern is not unfounded. Most public corruption cases involving government contractors include references to the offering of lavish gifts, meals, travel, or entertainment to government officials.

Moreover, nearly all governmental bodies have enacted ethical restrictions that limit the gifts and hospitality that may be accepted by government officials — even in the absence of intent to influence a government official. Indeed, these restrictions are often even more stringent for government procurement officials.

Ethics and anti-corruption laws vary dramatically depending on the jurisdiction. Consequently, determining the applicable rules for a particular government entity can be incredibly challenging. To assist contractors with this process, Part I of this Briefing Paper provides an overview of the laws and policies that restrict the offering or giving of gifts and hospitality to government officials. Part II addresses the severe consequences that may result when contractors offer or give gifts and hospitality to influence an official action. Part III offers practical suggestions regarding the policies and procedures that a government contractor may implement to reduce the risk of violating these laws.   (November 2014)

Please read:  Gifts, Hospitality & the Government Contractor.

 

Secrets of Superstar Contracting Professionals

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD, CFCM, Owner, Christoph LLC 

Mr. Mlinarchik's biography

Originally published in National Contract Management Association's (NCMA, www.ncmahq.org) Contract Management magazine.

Are you ready to step up into a leadership position? Are you a critical and strategic thinker? Do you have excellent research, writing, and analytical skills? Can you synthesize competing interests, duties, and motivations to get the job done within an acceptable range of cost, schedule, and performance? If so, the contracting profession needs you now more than ever. However, this is merely the bare minimum to be an effective professional. Such talents and skills are necessary, not sufficient, to be a superstar in the profession. This article explores the attributes, motivations, and talents of superior contracting professionals-the leaders, innovators, and superstars.   (August 2014)

Please read:  Secrets of Superstar Contracting Professionals

Review Essay: Reading the Dream Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious V-22 Osprey, by Richard Whittle, in Light of the Defense Acquisition Performance Study

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and Nathaniel E. Castellano, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This review commends The Dream Machine to a broad range of readers, including public contracts attorneys, acquisition policy officials, contracts professionals, program managers, government procurement law students, as well as consumers of military history. It’s a remarkable story told with style. The review juxtapose some aspects of the author’s exhaustive case study of this seemingly problematic program against the Defense Department’s nascent effort to assess the performance of the Defense Acquisition System. The authors make no secret of their belief that DoD’s acquisition performance assessment has the potential to become one of the most significant recent developments in defense acquisition. Among other things, the review essay highlights some particularly informative or entertaining aspects of the book. Ultimately, the essay concludes by focusing on the ultimate question that the authors hope DoD chooses to address more broadly in its future performance assessment: is the V-22 a success story, a cautionary failure, something in between, or none of the above? The authors' concern is that DoD might be asking the wrong questions.  (May 2014)

Please Read:  Review Essay: Reading the Dream Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious V-22 Osprey, by Richard Whittle, in Light of the Defense Acquisition Performance Study.

 

Dissecting GAO's Bid Protest 'Effectiveness Rate'

By Daniel I. Gordon, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This paper reports on research into what happens in procurements that are protested to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, after GAO dismisses the bid protest because the contracting agency has advised GAO that it is taking 'corrective action.'

The Government Accountability Office recently issued its annual bid protest report, which contains data of great interest to agencies, contractors and counsel who practice in front of GAO. Transparency has been a hallmark of GAO and its bid protest process ever since the office, then called the General Accounting Office, issued its first published bid protest decision, Autocar Sales & Serv. Co., 5 Comp. Gen. 712, in 1926.  (May 2014)

Please read:  Dissecting GAO's Bid Protest 'Effectiveness Rate'

 

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2014)

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and David J. Berteau, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Defense Industrial Initiatives Group

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2013

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2013), attempts to identify the key trends and issues in U.S. federal procurement for 2013. Consistent with prior practice, this chapter offers extensive coverage of the federal procurement spending trend and attempts to predict what lies ahead. Budgetary and financial insecurity were less significant last year, but there is no question that the spending reduction represents a meaningful change in the long-term trend. More broadly, the paper discusses agency purchasing data (particularly at the Defense Department), grants spending and major changes in uniform guidance, the continued Defense Department Better Buying Power Initiative (now in version 2.0) and acquisition performance measurement (or metrics), the acquisition workforce, cyber-security, scandals and the toxic contracting environment, and contractor fatalities.  (May 2014)

Please read:  Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2014)

 

Integrity Challenges in the EU and U.S. Procurement Systems

By Daniel I. Gordon, George Washington University Law School and Gabriella M. Racca, University of Turin Department of Management

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Ensuring the integrity of procurement processes is instrumental to reaching an efficient allocation of social resources. Although this applies to any procurement system, the concrete implementation varies across different regulatory systems. This article clarifies – as a chapter of a forthcoming book – the main differences between the US and the EU systems in tackling the integrity issue. It focuses on the differences between the two systems’ contractor selection models and emphasizes the extent to which each system allows for subjective evaluation methods by linking the latter to accountability and transparency requirements.  (May 2014)

Please read:  Integrity Challenges in the EU and U.S. Procurement Systems

Articles for 2013
The Congressional War on Contractors

By Jessica Tillipman, The George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The U.S. Suspension & Debarment regime is designed to ensure that the federal government does business only with “responsible” partners. One of the most fundamentally (and frequently) misunderstood aspects of the FAR 9.4 suspension & debarment system is that these tools are only to be used for the purpose of protecting the Government, not to punish contractors for their past misconduct. Unfortunately, recent congressional initiatives demonstrate many legislators’ desire to transform debarment into a tool of punishment by banishing contractors from the procurement system “with little consideration of whether such action is needed or fair."

Instead of focusing on the government’s nuanced best interests, certain members of Congress continue to propose unnecessary, and in many instances counterproductive, legislation designed to fundamentally overhaul the debarment regime, often undermining contractor due process rights in the process. This article provides a sharp critique of recent congressional initiatives designed to transform the suspension and debarment regime into a punitive and non-discretionary sanction.

Please read:  The Congressional War on Contractors

Dangers of Source Selections: Debriefings

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD,

Mr. Mlinarchik's biography

Source selections always carry the risk of litigation. The bad news is there is no way to eliminate the possibility of a protest because the cost is minimal—some describe it as the price of a postage stamp. The good news is there are ways to conduct source selections to minimize the likelihood of a protest. Take advantage of the following acquisition strategies to avoid litigation and save time and money.

Losing offerors are prime protest candidates. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The post-award debriefing of offerors is the Government’s opportunity to extinguish any flickers of doubt about the fairness of the source selection, so get it right and keep it tight. The debriefing session should not display any signs of inconsistency or ambiguity. Diligent debriefings deter protests by demonstrating the fairness and impartiality of the source selection process and award decision.

Please Read:  Dangers of Source Selections: Debriefings

What’s in a name: REA versus claim

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD,

Mr. Mlinarchik's biography

Strangely enough, the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA) does not define its most important term—"claim." As a result, courts look to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) for guidance. FAR 2.101 defines a claim as a "written demand or written assertion by one of the contracting parties, seeking, as a matter of right, the payment of money in a sum certain, the adjustment or interpretation of contract terms, or other relief arising under or relating to a contract." Superficially, this definition resembles a Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA). However, there are subtle yet consequential distinctions between claims and REAs.  (April 2013)

Please read: What’s in a name: REA versus claim.

Bid Protests: The Costs are Real, but the Benefits Outweigh Them

By Daniel I. Gordon, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The author analyzes the costs and benefits of bid protests, with a focus on protests filed at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The author explains that the costs are often overstated, in that GAO’s reporting methodology leads observers to overstate the number of protests and the frequency of successful protests. The author also reports on research regarding what happens after GAO sustains protests, and indicates that firms that successfully protest to GAO generally do not obtain the contract that was the subject of the protest. The article also explains that the "automatic stay" of procurements triggered by a protest to GAO rarely stays in place for the maximum allowable time. The author also addresses the benefits of protests, such as the increase in transparency and accountability that they bring.  (March 2013)

Please read:  Bid Protests: The Costs are Real, but the Benefits Outweigh Them

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and David J. Berteau, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Defense - Industrial Initiatives Group

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2012

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2012), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2013 in U.S. federal procurement. Budgetary and financial insecurity emerge as the most significant emerging issues in government contracting. Consistent with prior practice, this chapter offers extensive coverage of the federal procurement spending trend and attempts to predict what lies ahead. Among other things, it discusses the pending sequestration, procurement spending rates, agency purchasing data (particularly at the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State and the Agency for International Development), grants spending, outsourcing versus insourcing, the continued Defense Department Better Buying Power Initiative (now in version 2.0), the acquisition workforce, the PSC Acquisition Survey, and contractor fatalities.  (March 2013)

Please read: Emerging Policy and Practice Issues

Crafting Compelling Contracting Officer’s Final Decisions

By Christoph Mlinarchik, JD, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington Headquarters Services

Mr. Mlinarchik's biography

The Contracting Officer’s Final Decision (hereafter "Final Decision") is an incredibly important document because it is the Government’s initial response to a contractor’s claim under the Contract Disputes Act. It serves as the Government’s opening move in the claim process and sets the stage for future litigation. The Final Decision is binding and conclusive unless the contractor appeals it, so it deserves careful consideration.

The Final Decision has five substantive requirements. It must (1) describe the claim or dispute, (2) refer to the relevant contract terms, (3) outline the facts, (4) state the decision and rationale of the Contracting Officer, and (5) advise the contractor of its appeal rights. The Final Decision must demand payment if it finds that the contractor is indebted to the Government. Finally, the Final Decision must be submitted to the contractor in writing.  (January 28, 2013)

Please read: Crafting Compelling Contracting Officer’s Final Decisions  (MS Word)

Articles for 2012
A House of Cards Falls: Why 'Too Big to Debar' is All Slogan and Little Substance

By Jessica Tillipman, The George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

“A House of Cards Falls: Why ‘Too Big to Debar’ is All Slogan and Little Substance” is a critical response to the article, "FCPA Sanctions: Too Big to Debar" by Drury D. Stevenson and Nicholas J. Wagoner, which aptly demonstrates a common, yet fundamentally flawed understanding of the FAR 9.4 suspension and debarment regime. "Too Big to Debar" asserts that when large government contractors violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), they should be “punished” by being debarred from the procurement system. Indeed, despite FAR 9.4’s clear directive to use debarment only for the purpose of protecting the government, not to punish past misconduct, "Too Big to Debar" completely disregards this fundamental tenet of the suspension and debarment regime (and the regulation’s plain language) by repeatedly referring to debarment as punishment. "Too Big to Debar" also misrepresents the true consequences of debarment — the corporate death penalty. In an era of outsourced government, these large, sophisticated firms not only permit the government to provide critical functions, but employ thousands of hard-working and innocent employees. Imposing debarment for the sake of retribution or deterrence is not only contrary to law, but would be harmful to the country’s diverse interests.

If FCPA enforcement has touched every industry, why do the authors single out large government contractors? Because they can — large government contractors are not sympathetic. Even though nearly all companies, regardless of their size or line of business are exposed to the potential misconduct of rogue employees, the authors expect government contractors to defy the statistically impossible. Too Big to Debar appears to assert that it is morally wrong to “reward” government contractors that have misbehaved. By injecting theories of punishment into an administrative regime, the article elevates the simple, almost visceral desire for large-scale retribution over the more nuanced best interests of the government. “A House of Cards Falls” exposes “Too Big to Debar” for what it is: a populist sound bite used to vilify and bash contractors without regard for nuance or reality.

Please Read:  A House of Cards Falls: Why 'Too Big to Debar' is All Slogan and Little Substance
 

FCPA Sanctions: Too Big to Debar?

By Drury D. Stevenson, South Texas College of Law and Nicholas J. Wagoner, South Texas College of Law Alumni

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) criminalizes bribery of foreign government officials; the frequency of enforcement actions and severity of fines levied against corporations under the FCPA have significantly increased in the last few years. There is an ongoing problem, however, with the sanctions for FCPA violations: enforcement authorities (DOJ and SEC) and contracting officials have limited themselves to fines, civil penalties, and occasional imprisonment of individual violators. Debarment from future federal government contracts, even temporarily, is an unused sanction for FCPA violations, even though Congress provided for this punishment by statute. Debarment offers a far more potent deterrent than fines and penalties, as multinational contractors that conduct business with the U.S. are much less likely to view the sanction as merely a cost of doing business. If ridding foreign markets of corruption truly is a top priority of the U.S., it seems both unfair and imprudent for federal agencies to continue awarding lucrative, multibillion-dollar contracts to firms recently prosecuted for fraudulently obtaining such contracts overseas.

Enforcement officials shy away from debarring entities that violate the FCPA due to the short-term inconvenience of an agency’s inability to transact business with its favorite contractor, its inability to demand favorable bids from contractors when the field of potential bidders has thinned, the resulting job loss, and the risk of overdeterring companies that might otherwise pursue lucrative opportunities in emerging markets. This is the "too big to debar" problem – the federal government is too dependent on a particular set of large, private-sector corporations for equipment and services. In addition to the virtual immunity from debarment enjoyed by these firms when they violate the FCPA, the fines imposed for engaging in foreign corrupt practices comprise a tiny fraction of the potential revenue generated by lucrative contracts with the U.S. and foreign states. When discounted by the low probability of detection, these sanctions are far too low to deter unlawful activity.

Debarment would deter potential wrongdoers and incapacitate actual offenders. The deterrent would induce more firms to comply with the law, which would allow the “too big to debar” problem to diminish over time. To help illuminate these concerns and lend support to the thesis, this Article will examine the third largest FCPA-related enforcement action to date: the BAE Systems case. On March 1, 2010, BAE Systems paid approximately $400 million in fines for its corrupt practices abroad. In the year that followed however, the federal government awarded BAE contracts in excess of $6 billion dollars. The U.S.’s refusal to debar BAE because of the potential “collateral consequences” provides a case study on the benefits and drawbacks of deterring foreign corruption through suspension and debarment. This Article concludes that the U.S. must begin to diversify its portfolio of federal contractors so that prosecutors may leverage the legitimate threat of suspension and debarment to more effectively deter foreign corruption. 
(July 2012)

Please Read:  FCPA Sanctions: Too Big to Debar?

 Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) Legal Reviews

By Theodore T. Richard, U. S. Air Force

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This article explains what forward-deployed lawyers need in order to properly review work orders under LOGCAP. It explains the LOGCAP project validation process and the role of the legal advisor in that process. The article emphasizes that LOGCAP contracts and task orders are not subject to special treatment under the law, but must be formed, funded, and executed in accordance with the laws and regulations governing government contracts generally. In doing so, the article discusses United States fiscal law concepts as applied to rapid acquisition authorities used in the LOGCAP process. Ultimately, through explaining this process to deployed lawyers, then the deployed commanders who receive their advice will be empowered to make better informed decisions without risks of Anti-deficiency Act violations.  (July 2012)

Please read:  Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) Legal Reviews

Reflections on the Federal Procurement Landscape

By Daniel I. Gordon, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

This paper, published in the Government Contractor, presents the reflections on the author's service as the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy from 2009 through 2011. The author identifies his three goals for his tenure as Administrator: strengthening the federal acquisition workforce, driving fiscal responsibility in federal acquisition, and rebalancing the relationship with contractors. The author points to reversal of several negative trends, in particular, decline in the size of the federal acquisition workforce during the years 1992-2009, unsustainable annual increases in procurement spending during those years, and an unhealthy overreliance on contractors in performance of key government functions. In each of those key areas, the author reports on the progress made - increasing the size of the federal acquisition workforce, buying less and buying smarter (particularly through the strategic sourcing initiative), and a better balance in relations with contractors, with more clarity about the proper role of contractors and improved oversight, as well as efforts to increase communication with vendors.  (June 2012)

Please read:  Reflections on the Federal Procurement Landscape

Affirmatively Inefficient Jurisprudence?: Confusing Contractors’ Rights to Raise Affirmative Defenses with Sovereign Immunity

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and Pamela Kovacs, George Washington University - Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

In M. Maropakis Carpentry v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upset the commonly understood rules of practice and procedure for government contracts dispute litigation. In what the Supreme Court might view as a drive-by jurisdictional ruling, the court held that a contractor must file its own claim for time extensions before it can defend against a government claim for liquidated damages. Two Court of Federal Claims cases then confirmed fears that the decision would create a significant, disruptive, and disadvantageous change in procedural posture for a large number of contractors defending against government claims. If unchecked, Maropakis may reflect one of the most significant changes in government-contracts litigation posture since the flurry of jurisdictional litigation following the late-1970s enactment of the Contract Disputes Act.

Courts make mistakes, but such errors need not indefinitely lead to inefficient, ineffective, or unfair results. The Federal Circuit should revisit the substance of Maropakis, en banc, at the first opportunity. Until then, contractor counsel should seek en banc review in any related cases or, where appropriate, consider amicus briefing. The Justice Department’s attorneys should exercise their discretion and refrain from exploiting Maropakis. Contractor counsel should craft arguments that persuade individual COFC judges to avoid the harsh and inefficient application of Maropakis. Administrative judges on the agency boards of contract appeals should stay the course and, if necessary, distinguish Maropakis. And, if the Federal Circuit fails to remedy the situation, Congress should craft and enact a legislative solution. 
(June 2012)

Please Read:  Affirmatively Inefficient Jurisprudence?: Confusing Contractors’ Rights to Raise Affirmative Defenses with Sovereign Immunity

Dead Letter Prohibitions and Policy Failures: Applying Government Ethics Standards to Personal Services Contractors

By Collin D. Swan, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The last two decades have been marked by numerous political efforts to reduce the size of the federal workforce and declare the end of the “era of big government.” These efforts left the federal government strapped for personnel and resources and have forced many agencies to increasingly rely on service contractors in general, and personal services contractors in particular, to fulfill their mandates. According to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, a personal services contract is a contract that creates an employer-employee relationship between the contractor and the federal government. Despite a longstanding — and, arguably, outdated — regulatory prohibition on the use of personal services contracts, many agencies are increasingly employing personal services contractors in positions traditionally reserved for government employees. The result is an absurd situation in which government ethics laws apply differently to service contractors and federal employees who work alongside each other, perform similar discretionary tasks, and have the same potential to engage in corrupt practices.

This Note argues that the personal services prohibition represents an outdated and inefficient method of protecting the government’s interest and should be abolished. Given the government’s current reliance on service contractors, procurement officials should not be concerned with whether a contract creates an employment relationship with the government, but instead with whether contractor personnel are being properly managed and supervised. Congress should thus explicitly abolish the personal services prohibition and apply government ethics laws to personal services contractors. This would reduce the ability of personal services contractors, who often perform discretionary functions on the government’s behalf, to act in their own personal interest to the detriment of the government’s mission. 
(June 2012)

Please read:  Dead Letter Prohibitions and Policy Failures: Applying Government Ethics Standards to Personal Services Contractors

Opening Procurement Markets Internationally: An Update, and the Road Ahead

By By Christopher R. Yukins, George Washington University Law School and Robert D. Anderson, World Trade Organization

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2011

These papers, presented by Christopher Yukins and Robert Anderson at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2011), attempt to identify the key trends and issues for 2011 in U.S. federal procurement. The papers, given as part of the "international" session at the conference, discuss key developments in the WTO Government Procurement Agreement and in the evolution of trade policy under that agreement. The papers discuss recent amendments to the WTO, and the pending accessions of a number of nations (including China and, potentially, India) to the agreement.  (June 2012)

Please read:  Opening Procurement Markets Internationally: An Update, and the Road Ahead

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2011)

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and David J. Berteau, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Defense - Industrial Initiatives Group

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2010

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2011), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2012 in U.S. federal procurement. It begins from the premise that the most significant emerging issue in government contracting, looking ahead, is the money (or lack of it). As the fiscal belt tightens, the procurement landscape - what the government buys, from whom, and how - will necessarily change. Consistent with prior practice, this chapter offers extensive coverage of the federal procurement spending trend and attempts to predict what lies ahead. It also discusses the proliferation of policy guidance on information technology (IT) procurement, cloud computing, and cyber-security. In addition, among other things, it addresses the Defense Department’s initiatives to squeeze savings, efficiencies, and productivity out of the acquisition regime and how this may affect the defense industrial base.  (March 2012)

Please read:  Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2011)

Articles for 2011
Dead Contractors:  The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School and Collin D. Swan, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Once the nation commits to engage in heavy, sustained military action abroad, particularly including the deployment of ground forces, political support is scrupulously observed and dissected. One of the most graphic factors influencing that support is the number of military soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice on the nation’s behalf. In the modern era, most studies suggest that the public considers the potential and actual casualties in U.S. wars to be an important factor, and an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. Economists have dubbed this the "casualty sensitivity" effect.

This article asserts that this stark and monolithic metric requires re-examination in light of a little-known phenomenon: on the modern battlefield, contractor personnel are dying at rates similar to - and at times in excess of - soldiers. The increased risk to contractors’ health and well-being logically follows the expanded role of contractors in modern governance and defense. For the most part, this "substitution" has taken place outside of the cognizance of the public and, potentially, Congress. This article explains the phenomenon, identifies some of the challenges and complexities associated with quantifying and qualifying the real price of combat in a modern outsourced military, and encourages greater transparency so that the public can more meaningfully participate in "the great American experiment." 

Please Read:  Dead Contractors: The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity

A Random Walk: The Federal Circuit’s 2010 Government Contracts Decisions

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This Article discusses the Federal Circuit's 2010 government contracts cases. It begins with some perspective on, and empirical quantification of, the Federal Circuit’s level of specialization and evolving jurisprudence in the field of government contracts. It eventually turns to analysis of a hodge-podge of unrelated cases: three award controversies (or bid protests), a handful of post award performance disputes, a few selections from the ongoing behemoths of litigation in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims - Winstar and Spent Nuclear Fuel, and a potentially analogous implied warranty case. Overall, the article suggests that the Federal Circuit's 2010 government contracts cases appear to lack significant volume, thematic coherence, or dramatic impact. It also reinforces the perception that the court does not, and does not desire to, embrace the unique nature of the federal government contract regime as an analytical premise or predicate. Rather, the court increasingly appears to prefer a more consistent, streamlined, simplified, or even formalistic approach to its highly varied docket.

Please Read:  A Random Walk: The Federal Circuit’s 2010 Government Contracts Decisions

The Sad, Yet Illustrative, Case Of PMO Partnership Joint Venture

By Nicholas Sanders, Certified Government Financial Manager

PMO Partnership Joint Venture (PMO-JV) was a joint venture formed under the laws of the State of Florida for the purpose of submitting a proposal to the Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to provide program management oversight services. Although PMO-JV's technical proposal was "among the most 'highly rated' technical proposals" and although FTA awarded 18 contracts in response to proposals it received, PMO-JV's cost proposal was rejected by the FTA Contracting Officer and the joint venture was not selected for contract award.  PMO-JV protested to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and its protest was sustained. In response to GAO recommendations, FTA had PMO-JV's proposal reevaluated and, once again, the FTA Contracting Officer rejected PMO-JV's cost proposal. Once again, PMO-JV protested the Contracting Officer's decision; once again, GAO sustained the protest.

Two bid protests and two protests sustained over a two-year period.  What went wrong here?  (April 2011)

Please Read:  The Sad, Yet Illustrative, Case Of PMO Partnership Joint Venture  (pdf)

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2010)

By Steven L. Schooner, George Washington University Law School; and David J. Berteau, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Defense, Industrial Initiatives Group

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2010

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2010), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2011 in U.S. federal procurement. The paper, among other things, focuses on the intense activity that emanated from the Defense Department, primarily through USD(AT&L) Ashton Carter’s Efficiency and Productivity Initiative; summarizes empirical evidence that the federal procurement spending growth cycle finally has run its course; offers a window into the concentration of spending amongst the largest contracting agencies and government contractors; points out that, despite all of the attention focused upon government contracting, over the last decade grant spending outpaced procurement spending by more than sixteen percent; expresses concern that agencies have their work cut out for them in their continuing efforts to fund additional acquisition billets and investing in training and professional development in an era of pay freezes and pressure to reduce government spending; discusses how the government has grown into its permanent and growing reliance on contracts for a wide range of professional and support services; expresses dismay that, for political purposes, the public is not exposed to an objective, even-handed assessment of the roles contractors play and the extent of their contribution to the government’s myriad missions; and highlights the Professional Services Council Acquisition Policy Survey, The Great Divide, which chronicled the marked difference in perceptions between operational acquisition professionals – the people who actually purchase the goods and services necessary for the government to perform its missions – and those whose role is primarily oversight (e.g., legislative staff, GAO, etc.) of the people and firms that do the work.

Please read Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2010)

Barriers to International Trade in Procurement after the Economic Crisis, Part II: Opening International Procurement Markets: Unfinished Business

By Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2010

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2010), discusses developing issues in international public procurement. Among other things, the paper suggests that, in 2010, the international procurement market continued to mature, as cross-border barriers to trade continue to fall. Large developing nations - including China and, potentially, India - moved to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), the leading instrument for opening procurement markets. In the United States, while open issues remained regarding how to ensure that the United States meets its own free-trade obligations in procurement, the United States and Canada were able to reach a compromise on U.S. - Canadian procurement purchasing that may open the way for future agreement. That thaw in international procurement markets was in contrast, though, to a new U.S. tax on foreign contractors selling to the U.S. government who fall outside the protection of the GPA and other agreements. More broadly, there was a growing international trend in favor of unified defense-civilian procurement, bolstered by a recent European directive on defense procurement. Freer trade in defense procurement may, however, be affected by efforts to ensure security of supply (including efforts in Europe and the United States) - an area where comparison between the two systems may be useful, as the debate over protecting “critical materials” in the U.S. system is rapidly advancing.

Please read Barriers to International Trade in Procurement after the Economic Crisis, Part II: Opening International Procurement Markets: Unfinished Business

A Versatile Prism: Assessing Procurement Law Through the Principal-Agent Model

By Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Over the past several decades, the federal procurement system in the United States has grown remarkably, and now totals over $500 billion annually.

Over that same period, the rules governing federal procurement have been buffeted by broad efforts at reform. At no point, however, have we ever had an overarching theory - a model or prism - through which to assess the procurement system or its reform. Agency theory provides one such theoretical model. Long established in economics and the other social sciences, the principal-agent model (agency theory) provides a model to explain successes (and failures) in organizational structures, and also to understand the procurement system and its rules. The theory builds upon the classic principal-agent model. A principal enlists an agent to carry out the principal’s goals, presumably because the agent enjoys some comparative advantage in performing the goals. Inevitably, however, the agent’s interests diverge from the principal’s; if the agent’s goals diverge sufficiently, the agent may be said to have a conflict of interest. This article employs agency theory to assess classic constructs of procurement law, such as Steven Schooner's desiderata, and argues that the theory can be used to solve future puzzles in procurement policy, and to predict where procurement policies are likely to fail - and to succeed.

Please read A Versatile Prism: Assessing Procurement Law Through the Principal-Agent Model.

Articles for 2010
Suing the Government as a 'Joint Employer' - Evolving Pathologies of the Blended Workforce

By:  Steven L. Schooner and Collin D. Swan

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

As the 'blended workforce' - a realm in which contractors work alongside, and often are indistinguishable from, their Government counterparts - becomes more commonplace, the distinction between civil servants, members of the military and contractor employees increasingly blurs. One intriguing (and, apparently, accelerating), yet little-known trend is that contractor employees are more frequently suing the Government, alleging employment discrimination on the part of Government managers, supervisors or even coworkers. This short piece discusses the evolving 'joint employer' liability doctrine. It suggests that The federal courts' and the EEOC's willingness to define federal agencies as de facto employers of contractor employees is further evidence that the prohibition on personal service contracts is - or should now be deemed - a dead letter. Ultimately, it concludes that both the Government and its contractors need to understand that, as federal agencies continue to rely on contractors for their staffing needs, the ability to distinguish between civil servants and contractors - in the eyes of the law - will become increasingly more difficult.

Please Read:  Suing the Government as a 'Joint Employer' - Evolving Pathologies of the Blended Workforce.

Punishing the Penitent: Disproportionate Fines in Recent FCPA Enforcements and Suggested Improvements

By:  Bruce Hinchey, an attorney completing an LL.M. degree in Government Procurement Law at The George Washington University Law School. He is currently looking for employment in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act defense and government contracts practices.

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The Department of Justice has long promised tangible benefits to companies that voluntarily disclose (FCPA) violations. Justice Department officials have promised that the enforcement of the FCPA is both fair and consistent. Despite these promises, critics question the benefits of voluntary disclosure based on the outcome of a few, isolated cases. In this thesis, forty FCPA cases from 2002 through 2009 are compiled, comparing the ratio between bribes and fines for companies that do and do not voluntarily disclose. The results side with the critics and reveal that there does not appear to be a benefit to voluntary disclosure. The data from these cases is then used to identify how the FCPA can be honed to encourage compliance and deter violations in a fairer and more efficient manner. Next, comparisons are made between the FCPA and other anti-corruption organizations and entities, with the intent of incorporating refinements to the voluntary disclosure enforcement process. These comparisons consider not only the legal framework for preventing bribery but also how those laws are enforced. Finally, recent FCPA developments are considered along with some suggested actions to bring more fairness and efficiency to voluntary disclosures under the FCPA.

Please Read:  Punishing the Penitent: Disproportionate Fines in Recent FCPA Enforcements and Suggested Improvements.

In Search of Reasonable Compensation: Patent Infringement by Defense Contractors with the Authorization and Consent of the U.S. Government

By:  Timothy R. WyattPh.D., College of Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology; J.D. candidate, Wake Forest University School of Law

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Winner of the U. S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association's 2009 Writing Competition.

Federal patent legislation provides for the immunization of contractors for the U. S. Department of Defense ("DoD") who infringe patents, with DoD's authorization and consent, in the performance of government contracts. Where the government has authorized or consented to the patent infringement, the patent owner's exclusive remedy, barring a settlement with DoD, is a royalty award in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In recent years, however, other federal courts (primarily the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) have limited the remedy available to patent owners. Both the government and the infringing contractors have escaped paying royalties by finding technical loopholes in the patent legislation: By delegating infringing activities to subcontractors, by the government not directly accepting infringing products from the prime contractors, or by having the infringing activities conducted outside of the United States. In addition, courts have determined that the "reasonable royalty" available to patent owners in these situations need not fully compensate the patent owner for losing the government contract to its competitor.

In 2009, however, the pendulum appeared to shift strongly in favor of patent owners with two rulings from the Court of Federal Claims. In Zoltek Corporation v. United States, the Court rejected the government’s use of technical loopholes to avoid paying royalties to the patent owner. And in The Boeing Company v. United States, the Court required the government to fully compensate the patent owner for infringing activities that the government had authorized. These encouraging trends indicate that patent owners can expect to be fully compensated for innovations that benefit DoD, and bad faith actions by infringers may no longer be protected simply because they occur under government contract.

This work was awarded first place in the inaugural Court of Federal Claims Bar Association writing competition.

Please Read:  In Search of Reasonable Compensation: Patent Infringement by Defense Contractors with the Authorization and Consent of the U.S. Government.

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2009)

By:  Steven L. Schooner and David J. Berteau

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2009

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2009), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2010 in U.S. federal procurement. In large part, the paper focuses upon the challenges inherited by the Obama administration and its efforts during its first year in office. Among other things, the paper suggests that the administration charted a course of what it perceived as bold action – most dramatically, touting "savings" and accountability, while permitting special interests to distract focus from value for money and customer satisfaction. Accordingly, at least to date, the Obama administration's procurement policies lack a cohesive theme, suggest a reactive rather than proactive approach, strongly indicate a special interest bias, and, at best, have sent mixed messages at a critical juncture.  (March 2010)

Please read:  Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2009)

Federal Contracting and Acquisition: Progress, Challenges, and the Road Ahead

By:  Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

This brief paper discusses the Obama administration's public procurement agenda, major trends that influence the acquisition regime (that now encompasses $500B annually), and significant challenges the administration faces in improving the value it receives for the money it spends. It concludes with a group of research questions suggested by participants at the November IBM forum on Framing a Public Management Research Agenda.

Please read:  Federal Contracting and Acquisition: Progress, Challenges, and the Road Ahead

Articles for 2009
Less is More: Encouraging Greater Competition in Computer Software Procurement by Simplifying the DFARS Licensing Scheme

By C. Peter Dungan

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This paper examines the current DFARS software intellectual property (IP) rights scheme and provides a roadmap for further reform. Part II analyzes the history of software development and the historical regulations governing DoD's procurement of software. Part III examines the current DFARS provisions governing rights in software. Even after two congressionally mandated rewrites, the DFARS retains the protectionist character of Cold War era IP regulations. Part IV examines the viewpoints of the stakeholders in government-procured software. Contractors view intellectual property as the "crown jewel" of corporate assets. Moreover, DoD often does not need the extensive rights that these regulations confer. Finally, Part V suggests a way to encourage non-traditional firms to enter the government marketplace. The current standard licenses for software are are too broad and grant the Government rights that it does not need. Reformed DFARS clauses should confer rights through negotiation and establish, as the maximum the Government can demand, a level of rights equal to the current government purpose rights license. Such a reform would alleviate the fears many companies have that the Government will pawn off their "crown jewels."  (October 2009)

Please read:  Less is More: Encouraging Greater Competition in Computer Software Procurement by Simplifying the DFARS Licensing Scheme.

Tempering 'Buy American' in the Recovery Act - Steering Clear of a Trade War

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

The controversial 'Buy American requirements in Section 1605 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 threaten to stir protectionism leading to an outright trade war. This could be catastrophic in the current economic crisis, particularly since the Obama administration does not appear to believe that additional domestic preferences are needed for U.S. procurement. The pending challenge for federal regulators, therefore, will be to craft a rule that contains the Recovery Act's international impact, while implementing Congress' intent. The authors suggest that the optimal approach seems to be the most simple: to fold new procurement under the Recovery Act into the existing FAR regulatory structure, which accommodates the U.S.' many trade agreements. This would ensure that federal agencies' procurements adhere to those trade agreements (and also increases the likelihood that an already over-taxed acquisition workforce can consistently apply the new rules.) This simple, quick and elegant approach would be the least likely to generate new, potentially disastrous waves of protectionism in the critical, but treacherous, waters of global commerce.

Please read:  Tempering 'Buy American' in the Recovery Act - Steering Clear of a Trade War.

Public Procurement:  Focus on People, Value for Money and Systemic Integrity, Not Protectionism

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network and VOX.

The authors assert that, in the face of severe economic challenges, efficient and effective public purchasing is critical. Governments should focus on obtaining the greatest possible value for money expended and minimizing corruption, while eschewing counter-productive and inefficient protectionist constraints on procurement regimes. Stimulus investments in strengthening the acquisition workforce - the officials responsible for spending the government's money honestly and consistent with sound, business-based, transparent practices - will pay both short- and long-term dividends.  (March 2009)

Please read:  Public Procurement: Focus on People, Value for Money and Systemic Integrity, Not Protectionism.

The Challenge of Contracting for Large Complex Projects: A Case Study of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program.

By Trevor L Brown, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University; Matthew Potoski, Associate Professor, Iowa State University; and David M Van Slyke, Associate Professor, Syracuse University.

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

Contracts for complex products are risky for both buyers and sellers. With few competing vendors, the buyer—in this case a government agency—bears the risk that the seller will deliver a product that does not meet its needs or will request payment that exceeds the expected value of the product. And faced with a buyer who wants a very specialized product that few, if any, other buyers want, the seller bears the risk that it will invest time and effort to build a product for which it will not receive adequate compensation. These are difficult deals to negotiate.

This report highlights the risk of becoming locked in to or stuck in a contract with a vendor for a complex product or its components by examining the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater program, a major system-of-systems (SoS) acquisition to upgrade and integrate its sea and air assets (such as boats and airplanes). The Coast Guard is six years into a projected 25-year acquisition and production process for the Deepwater program, far enough along to examine options and tradeoffs at two initial stages: choosing whether to build, buy, or assemble the product, and designing the acquisition contract.

The Coast Guard’s experience with Project Deepwater suggests ways that government agencies can harness the benefits of complex contracting while avoiding its pitfalls. The Coast Guard experimented with a novel contracting approach and learned several lessons for future acquisitions of complex products:

• The effective acquisition of complex products requires an expanded and more highly skilled acquisition workforce.

• The effective acquisition of complex products requires a better understanding of risk.

• The effective acquisition of complex products requires an investment in learning. 

(January 2009)

Please read:  The Challenge of Contracting for Large Complex Projects: A Case Study of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program.

Articles for 2008
Why Contractor Fatalities Matter

By Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

At the end of July 2008, the media reported that 4,600 service members have died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. But reporting only military fatalities understates the human cost of America's engagements in these regions by nearly a fourth. On the modern, outsourced battlefield, the U.S. government increasingly has delegated to the private sector the responsibility to stand in harm's way and, if required, die for America. As of 30 June 2008, more than 1,350 civilian contractor personnel had died in Iraq and Afghanistan, while another 29,000 contractors have been injured; more than 8,300 seriously. Nonetheless, contractor fatalities (and injuries) remain generally outside the public's consciousness. This article asserts that, in a representative democracy, public awareness of the human cost of our nation's security and foreign policies is critical.  (December 2008)

Please read:  Why Contractor Fatalities Matter

Too Dependent on Contractors? Minimum Standards for Responsible Governance

By Steven L. Schooner and Daniel S. Greenspahn

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

While acknowledging that there are many benefits, challenges, and risks involved in outsourcing, this article asserts that failed implementation, rather than outsourcing policy, explains the government's current (mis)management of its contractors. This article explores the minimum standards for responsible governance following more than 15 years of ill-conceived and inadequate investment in the federal government's acquisition workforce, followed by a governmentwide failure to respond to a dramatic increase in procurement activity. These trends have led to a buying and contract management regime animated by triage, with insufficient resources available for contract administration, management, and oversight. The old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" rings true. Accordingly, a prospective investment in upgrading the number, skills, incentives, and morale of government purchasing officials would reap huge long-term dividends for the taxpayers.  (September 2008)

Please read Too Dependent on Contractors? Minimum Standards for Responsible Governance.

They're Here To Help

By Robert Antonio

10th Anniversary Special

One of the inside jokes we had as auditors for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was the phrase:  "We're Here To Help."  Sometimes, the victim agency would spring that phrase on us when we first met with agency officials to announce our audit.  Maybe it wasn't so inside after all.  If you are involved during the issuance of solicitations or if you are involved during the source selection process, you may believe that GAO's Procurement Law attorneys are less helpful than the auditors.  If you do, you are wrong.  First, the Procurement Law attorneys know something about their subject area.  Second, in many of their decisions, they provide instruction in their rules of contracting.  Quite often they repeat the same rule over and over again in similar decisions.  Often they add to the rule.  That is what this article is about--helping you identify those rules.  (July 2008)

Please read They're Here To Help

Public Procurement Systems: Unpacking Stakeholder Aspirations and Expectations

By Steven L. Schooner, Daniel I. Gordon, and Jessica L. Clark

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Around the world, governments are increasingly becoming focused on improving their public procurement regimes. Significant developments include the establishment of internationally shared norms for public procurement systems, while, at the national level, a number of countries have adopted dramatically new public procurement regimes, and others are experimenting with new procurement vehicles, such as framework agreements and electronic reverse auctions, and new procurement schemes, including public-private partnerships. As each of these changes is contemplated, planned, implemented, and then assessed, government leaders and policy makers need a framework of analysis for decision making - a framework based on public procurement goals and understanding stakeholder interests.

In this condensed working paper (being delivered at the Naval Postgraduate School Acquisition Symposium), we offer such a framework, building on the ideas in Steve Schooner's 2002 article, 'Desiderata: Objectives for a System of Government Contract Law.' In that article, Schooner outlined nine objectives, or desiderata, of public procurement systems: competition, integrity, transparency, efficiency, customer satisfaction, best value, wealth distribution, risk avoidance, and uniformity. From that starting point, we use stakeholder analysis to further develop the desiderata into a two-part framework to give policy makers and government leaders a tool for public procurement decision making. Just as 'Desiderata' has contributed to public procurement decision making, this analytical framework can help clarify, and perhaps inform, many of the debates raging around procurement reform.  (May 2008)

From one of the authors:

This project is very much a work in progress, and we posted the draft at this point because we are actively seeking comments, reactions, suggestions, examples, and anecdotes. (Again, the version posted on SSRN is a significantly condensed version.)

Readers should not hesitate to correspond directly with Steven L. Schooner or, of course, with the other authors.

Please read:  Public Procurement Systems: Unpacking Stakeholder Aspirations and Expectations.

Political Connections and the Allocation of Procurement Contracts

By Eitan Goldman, JÖRG ROCHOLL, and JONGIL SO

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This paper analyzes whether political connections of public corporations in the United States affect the allocation of government procurement contracts. The paper classifies the political affiliation of S&P 500 companies using hand-collected data that detail the past political position of each of their board members. Using this classification, the study focuses on the change in control of both House and Senate following the 1994 midterm election and on the change in the Presidency following the 2000 election. An analysis of the change in the value of the procurement contracts awarded to these companies before and after 1994 and 2000, respectively, indicates that companies that are connected to the winning (losing) party are significantly more likely to experience an increase (decrease) in procurement contracts. The results remain significant after controlling for industry classifications as well as for several firm characteristics. In total, these findings suggest that the allocation of procurement contracts is influenced, at least in part, by political connections. Thus, our study provides one of the first pieces of evidence showing a direct avenue through which political connections add value to U.S. companies.  (April 2008)

Please read:  Political Connections and the Allocation of Procurement Contracts.

A Legal Analysis of the Statutory and Contractual Allocation of Data Rights in Federal Contracts Subject to 10 U.S.C. 2320

By Dayn T. Beam

As the author delved deeper and deeper into the structure and substance of 10 U.S.C. 2320 and the implementing regulations and contract clauses, it was a very pleasant surprise to find that the structure and substance of that statute could produce practical and fair outcomes when applied and followed as written. While there is one enormously useful and complete treatise on this subject and a few law review articles with very good summaries of the issues, most articles and case law focus on isolated issues without placing those issues into a clear and complete context with the Statute, the DFARS, and other issues. As with any attempt to ascertain the fullest extent of the authorizations and the limitations contained within a statute (and subsequent implementing regulations), the initial analysis will not consider prior assumptions, past practices, case law, and even scholarly analyses which might influence the initial interpretation of the plain meaning of the words as written. These other sources and authorities will be considered, as discussed in Part V, only after completing the initial analysis.

This analysis is divided into the basic paper and five Attachments. The basic paper analyzes the Statute and the DFARS as they are written. Attachments One and Two provide a copy of 10 U.S.C. 2320 and DFARS 252.227-7013 for convenient reference. Attachments Three, Four, and Five, examine the practical application issues which arise in an attorney’s daily practice regarding DOD Data Rights. 
(April 2008)

About The Author

Dayn Thomas Beam has been an attorney advisor with the Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) (formerly MICOM) Legal Office for the past twenty-nine years. He presently is serving in the Intellectual Property Law Group and previously has served in the Acquisition Law Division and General Law Division of this office. He has published numerous manuals and papers on topics of concern in these areas of law, including "A Practical Guide for the Understanding, Acquiring, Using, Transferring, and Disposition of Intellectual Property by DoD Personnel." He has conducted training in many command-wide training programs and has received many awards in each area of law in which he has practiced, including the AMC Individual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Value Engineering. 
 

Please read:  A Legal Analysis of the Statutory and Contractual Allocation of Data Rights in Federal Contracts Subject to 10 U.S.C. 2320Updated May 21, 2009.  (MS Word)  (388 KB)

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues

By Steven L. Schooner and Danielle Conway-Jones

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference - Covering 2007

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2007), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2008 in U.S. federal procurement. The authors bemoan the absence of attention to significant issues by the current Presidential candidates, critique the leadership vacuum that sustains the longstanding and increasingly critical acquisition workforce shortage, and discuss the potentially active legislative agenda in light of the now-Final Report of the Acquisition Advisory Panel (AAP), a blue-ribbon commission mandated by Section 1423 of the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA). The authors also discuss the dramatic post-2000 trend in increased federal procurement spending, increased transparency due to the Federal Procurement Data System and new online vehicles, increased attention to contractor compliance systems, continuing problems with contracting in Iraq, and the application of certain social policies to the procurement process. (March 2008)

Please read: Emerging Policy and Practice Issues.

Articles for 2007
Renewed Focus On Program Performance Management Or The Government-Imposed Shotgun Marriage Between The Accountant And Engineer

By Nick Sanders, Director, Aerospace & Defense Advisory Services, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference

It is tempting to say that the pressures on the Federal Government, its contractors, and their management teams to deliver high-quality goods and services on time and on budget have never been greater. Government Accountability Office and independent panel reports, as well as the words of Congressional reformers, provide ample evidence that little tolerance exists for failure to achieve contractual "acquisition outcomes." Despite the current environment, newspaper headlines continue to report problematic quality, cost and schedule performance by the Department of Defense and its contractors. Does the current high-sensitivity/low-tolerance Government contracting environment represent a radical paradigm-shift, a pendulum-swing back to the pre-Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act days of MILSPEC and oversight – or is it "the same old song and dance" repackaged for a new audience? (April 2007)

Please read: Renewed Focus on Program Performance Management Or The Government-Imposed Shotgun Marriage Between the Accountant and Engineer

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2006)

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (Covering 2006)

This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2006), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2007 in U.S. federal procurement. In large part, the paper discusses the "Draft Final" Report of the Acquisition Advisory Panel (AAP), a blue-ribbon commission mandated by Section 1423 of the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA). Proceeding from the simple premise that the private sector does a better job with procurement by planning carefully and employing aggressive competition, the authors discuss, among other things, the inaccuracies that plague the Federal Procurement Data System; the dramatic post-2000 trend in increased procurement spending; the AAP's tame recommendations for commercial purchasing; and efforts to reign in (and responsibly utilize) interagency contracting. The authors also question the administration's relentless focus on competitive sourcing and critique the leadership vacuum that led to the longstanding and increasingly critical acquisition workforce shortage. (March 2007)    

Please read: Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2006)

Recommended Books for Government Contracting Professionals

By Vernon J. Edwards

Special to WIFCON.com

On more than one occasion, members of the WIFCON.com discussion forum have asked the same question.  They want a recommendation for books that a government contracting professional should read.  Well, wait no longer.  (March 2007)    

Please read: Recommended Books for Government Contracting Professionals. (pdf)

Poor Leadership, Not Excessive Oversight, Is What Troubles Contracting

By Vernon J. Edwards

Special to WIFCON.com

What's the problem with federal contracting?  Is it to much congressional oversight?  Could it be too much inspector general oversight?  How about too many people accepting inspector general reports at face value?  Is it too much work and even too much form filling?  What about too many rules?  The title of this article provides you with a taste of the author's view.  (March 2007)

Please read: Poor Leadership, Not Excessive Oversight, Is What Troubles Contracting

Articles for 2006
Procurement Reform in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 — A Creature of Compromise, Pointing the Way to Future Debates

By Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

The defense authorization act for fiscal year 2007, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, H.R. 5122, has been signed into law. This essay reviews some of the key provisions in the act regarding procurement reform, including: (1) a renewed focus on lead systems integrators; (2) new technical data obligations for commercial contractors; (3) waiver procedures for specialty metals under the Berry Amendment; and (4) new integrity initiatives, including a GAO study of revolving door hires at major contractors. The essay notes that the act's many reform measures are likely stepping-stones to broader reforms. With recent scandals and the coming 2006 and 2008 elections, the pace of reform is, if anything, likely to accelerate.

Please read Procurement Reform in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 — A Creature of Compromise, Pointing the Way to Future Debates

Government Purpose Rights in Technical Data and Computer Software in DOD Acquisition

By George B. Tereschuk

Federal Government acquisition of non-commercial supplies may include delivery of technical data and computer software with well-known licensing terms such as Unlimited Rights, Limited Rights or Restricted Rights. In Defense Department acquisitions, the resulting contract can permit delivery of technical data and computer software using a "middle way," known as Government Purpose Rights (GPR), which is an Intellectual Property licensing system that is available to DOD acquisitions. This paper describes the salient features of GPR such as the scope of the GPR license, differences between GPR, Unlimited Rights, and Limited Rights, the circumstances when GPR is granted and other characteristics of the GPR license. The author is a Patent Attorney in the Legal Office of the Headquarters, United States Army Communications/Electronics Life Cycle Management Command (CE/LCMC). (May 2006)

Please read Government Purpose Rights in Technical Data and Computer Software in DOD Acquisition.

Improving Federal Procurement: The Benefits of Vendor-Neutral Contract Specifications

By R. Preston McAfee

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Government procurements that specify brand names can unnecessarily increase the price of purchases. In 2004, approximately 69 percent of the applicable solicitations for computer systems and technology contained language that either required specific name brand microprocessors, usually Intel, or specified that the processor should be equivalent to a particular brand microprocessor. Such exclusionary language could cost hundreds of millions of dollars unnecessarily. For some products, the variety and complexity of items compel contracting agents to use brand names rather than to detail specific technical requirements and product characteristics. In the case of microprocessors, third-party benchmarks represent a solution to such a procurement specification issue. (May 2006)

Please read Improving Federal Procurement: The Benefits of Vendor-Neutral Contract Specifications

Post-Katrina Reconstruction Liability: Exposing the Inferior Risk-Bearer

By Erin Siuda and Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress is considering S. 1761, The Gulf Coast Recovery Act (GCRA).  Congress intends for GCRA to provide insulation against liability for contractors involved in disaster relief and reconstruction.  It would broadly apply the government contractor defense and thereby forestall private tort litigation arising from contractors’ work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other similar disasters.  This Article asserts that GCRA grossly misses the mark when judged against two commonly suggested normative goals of tort law: the GCRA neither serves the ends of justice and fairness by compensating victims, nor does it minimize the costs of harm by deterring contractors from acting negligently. (May 2006)

Please read Post-Katrina Reconstruction Liability: Exposing the Inferior Risk-Bearer

A Proposal for a New Approach to Performance-Based Services Acquisition

Courtesy of the Procurement Round Table

Section 1423 of the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 200 authorized an Acquisition Advisory panel to review and recommend any necessary changes to acquisition laws and regulations as well as government-wide acquisition policies with a view toward ensuring effective and appropriate use of commercial practices and performance-based contracting.

On March 13, 2006, the Procurement Round Table (PRT) submitted a paper to the Panel entitled "A Proposal for a New Approach to Performance-Based Services Acquisition."  In this paper, the PRT concluded that the system for conducting performance-based service acquisition (PBSA) is not working — particularly with respect to long-term, complex service requirements. After a discussion of current PBSA problems, the paper recommends a new approach called Relational Contracting which emphasizes the need to establish solid working relationships between the Government and its complex service support contractors. The paper concludes with a recommendation that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) obtain statutory authority for pilot program application of the Relational Contracting concept. (April 2006)

Please read A Proposal for a New Approach to Performance-Based Services Acquisition

A Modest Proposal to Enhance Civil/Military Integration: Rethinking the Renegotiation Regime as a Regulatory Mechanism to Decriminalize Cost, Pricing, and Profit Policy

By William E. Kovacic and Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Neither Congress, the procuring agencies, the media, nor the public will condone government contractors reaping what are perceived as excessive profits. Accordingly, the procurement process employs an unduly complex, burdensome, risk-laden, and ineffective mechanism that erects significant barriers to civil/military integration. This paper examines certain policy implications associated with the Truth In Negotiations Act, the existing audit regime, and the use of criminal and civil anti-fraud measures to scrutinize deviations from these complex cost, pricing, and profit policies and controls. It revisits the long-extinct Renegotiation Act and finds it less troubling than the existing quagmire. This paper proposes to simplify and decriminalize federal procurement pricing and profit policy by drawing from the historical renegotiation experience. (April 2006)

Please read A Modest Proposal to Enhance Civil/Military Integration: Rethinking the Renegotiation Regime as a Regulatory Mechanism to Decriminalize Cost, Pricing, and Profit Policy

Constructing a Bid Protest Process: Choices Every Procurement Challenge System Must Make

By Daniel L. Gordon

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Many public procurement systems have established systems for allowing vendors to challenge the conduct of procurement processes. Providing an effective domestic review mechanism for vendors who believe that government procurement officials have not conducted an acquisition lawfully brings an important measure of transparency and accountability to public procurement systems. This article discusses the goals of bid protest systems and presents key choices that must be made in crafting a system. The article does not describe an ideal bid protest system, but rather presents the decisions that need to be made when constructing a bid protest system. (April 2006)

Please read Constructing a Bid Protest Process: Choices Every Procurement Challenge System Must Make

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2005)

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Accepted Paper of West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (Covering 2005)

This paper attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2006 in U.S. federal procurement. It focuses upon what seems to be the common imperative underlying the various initiatives: the need to bring order to a procurement function as it devolves away from the Government user – what some might call the "devolution" or "outsourcing" of the contracting function. The paper also addresses emerging issues including, among others, the death of competitive sourcing; the acquisition workforce crisis; centralized purchasing; public service ethics in the post-Darleen Druyun era; interagency purchasing and fees; post-Hurricane Katrina procurement; electronic procurement and reverse auctions; and conflicts of interest. (February 2006)

Please read Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2005)

Articles for 2005
In Memoriam, John Cibinic, Jr.

By Ralph C. Nash, Joseph A Vergilio, Gilbert J. Ginsburg, Mary Anne Q. Wood, John S. Pachter, Douglas L. Patin, James F. Nagle, Clarence T. Kipps, Jr., Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Public Contract Law Journal

In 1987, I received my Masters degree in Government Procurement from The American University in Washington, D. C.  Of course, my textbooks were written by Ralph C. Nash and John Cibinic, Jr.  As I write, my hard copies of Federal Procurement Law and several other Nash & Cibinic texts sit in my office library a few feet away.  On August 1, 2005, John Cibinic, Jr. died.  Several of his colleagues have written brief memories of their experiences with him in this memoriam. 

What effect did John Cibinic, Jr. have on me?  If he had not lived, I would not have earned my Masters degree and I would be a different person.  If John Cibinic, Jr. had not lived, there would not be a Where in Federal Contracting?; there would not be a wifcon.com; there would not be a Wifcon Forum; and you would not be reading this now.

Please Read In Memoriam, John Cibinic, Jr.

Katrina's Continuing Impact on Procurement - Emergency Procurement Powers in H.R. 3766

By Christopher R. Yukins and Joshua I. Schwartz

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

As Hurricane Katrina relief efforts grow into the billions of dollars, the U.S. Congress is considering additional legislation to liberalize procurement, including H.R. 3766, co-sponsored by Representatives Kenny Marchant and Tom Davis. In these comments on the proposed legislation, the authors asked whether the proposed changes, which would eviscerate competition for most procurement related to disaster relief, are truly necessary. Professor Yukins suggests that, though it might in some circumstances be necessary to dismantle the federal regulatory regime to accommodate a wave of new firms in the federal market, there is too little evidence yet to support such radical measures. Professor Schwartz argues that there is no basis, empirically or analytically, for any effort to undo the careful protections afforded by the federal procurement system. (October 2005)

Please Read Katrina's Continuing Impact on Procurement - Emergency Procurement Powers in H.R. 3766.

Understanding the Current Wave of Procurement Reform:  Devolution of the Contracting Function

By Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

This paper proffers a conceptual model for procurement reform in the United States today and argues that much of the current reform can be understood as an attempt to bring order to the devolution of the contracting function, from users, to agency contracting officials, to centralized purchasing agencies, and now, finally, to private contractors. The paper also argues that this devolution is, in fact, an outsourcing of the contracting function, and that therefore classic models of private-sector outsourcing should be applicable. The government should, in other words, be asking whether the contracting function should be outsourced, and if so, whether that function is being properly devolved, with appropriate checks and limits. This model, which assesses U.S. procurement reform against the rush to devolve the contracting function, applies equally well to the procurement reform legislation pending before Congress. The various procurement reform measures in the pending defense authorization bills reflect Congress' effort to curb——or at least control——the devolution of the contracting function, because of rising concern that too much authority has devolved too far. (June 2005)

Please Read Understanding the Current Wave of Procurement Reform:  Devolution of the Contracting Function.

Commentary on the Acquisition Workforce

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

Recognizing the need to focus on the strategic management of the federal acquisition workforce, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) promulgated Policy Letter 05-01, Developing and Managing the Acquisition Workforce. These two brief pieces discuss the policy letter and what it signals to the acquisition community. The first, Empty Promise for the Acquisition Workforce, concludes that, although the letter's title optimistically heralded a bold step forward, OFPP both aimed too low and missed the mark. The letter attempted to redefine cosmetically the acquisition workforce and describe how a portion of this deputized acquisition workforce should be trained. While the latter is important, the letter dodged the primary issue that daunts the workforce, painted a deceptive picture of a growing acquisition workforce and failed to communicate a vision for a reinvigorated corps of contracting professionals. The second, A Pedagogical Perspective on Training the Acquisition Workforce, offers some pedagogical reactions to the policy letter and some suggestions, with a focus on the need for teaching critical thinking. (May 2005)

Please Read Commentary on the Acquisition Workforce

Implementing Alternative Sourcing Strategies: Four Case Studies

By Jacques S. Gansler and William Lucyshyn

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

In this article, four case studies highlight how organizations have implemented outsourcing, competitive sourcing, and public-private partnerships to achieve savings and better performance. First is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's initiative to outsource its computer desktop maintenance to the private sector. The second illustrates the use of competitive sourcing by the Internal Revenue Service as part of its effort to modernize. The third, Offutt Air Force Base's decision to compete more than 1,500 positions, is an example of the military’s efforts to shift more active duty personnel from support to combat-oriented positions. The fourth, a form of public-private partnership for maintenance of C-130 aircraft propeller assemblies at Robins Air Force Base, demonstrates the Air Force's commitment to reducing costs to make funds available for military modernization. (April 2005)

Please Read Implementing Alternative Sourcing Strategies: Four Case Studies

e-Sourcing in Procurement: Theory and Behavior in Reverse Auctions with Non-Competitive Contracts

By Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans and Elena Katok

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

E-Sourcing refers to the use of internet-enabled applications and decision support tools that facilitate competitive and collaborative interactions among buyers and suppliers through the use of online negotiations, reverse (decreasing bid) auctions, and other related tools. The use of auctions in e-Sourcing may save buyers considerable amounts of money. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration attributed savings of 12% to 48% to the use of auctions. However, auctions may not be delivering quite as much savings as hoped and some argue that they inflict damage on the long-term buyer-supplier relationships by inhibiting collaboration.  In this article, the authors develop a mechanism that blends features of reverse auctions and long-term relationships.  (April 2005)

Please Read e-Sourcing in Procurement: Theory and Behavior in Reverse Auctions with Non-Competitive Contracts.

Risky Business: Managing Interagency Acquisition

By Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Published in West's The Government Contractor newsletter

This brief piece suggests that interagency acquisition, the poster child for the flexible, streamlined, businesslike approach of the 1990's acquisition reform movement, has become the federal procurement system's Achilles heel. It recommends that the government needs more qualified professionals to proactively craft results-oriented contracts and to manage effectively contractors' performance. Finally it suggests commencing a meaningful conversation about the appropriate role of businesslike models, generally, and fees, specifically, in governance.  (April 2005)

Please Read Risky Business: Managing Interagency Acquisition.

Organizational Conflicts of Interest:  A Growing Integrity Challenge

By Daniel L. Gordon

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Conflicts of interest involving government officials have been very much in the news in recent years. At least in the United States, public procurement professionals are encountering more and more instances of a more particular kind of conflict, organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs), which can be defined, initially, as situations where an entity plays two or more roles that are, in some sense, at odds with one another. This article endeavors to set out some points for consideration in this increasingly important area.  (February 2005)

Please Read Organizational Conflicts of Interest:  A Growing Integrity Challenge

Emerging Policy and Practice Issues

By Steven L. Schooner and Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

That was the year that was.  In this item, the authors share a paper that they presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference.  The article covers a variety of issues including certain federal contracting scandals, task order contracting, and share-in-savings contracting.  (February 2005)

Please Read Emerging Policy and Practice Issues.

Government Garage Sales:  Online Auctions as Tools for Asset Management

By David C. Wyld

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

One thing an auction bidder does not want to see at an auction is a fellow collector who shares the same collecting interests as the bidder.  Worse yet is more than one of these fellow collectors to run the bid on an item to unexpected heights.  On the other hand, the seller knows that the more interested bidders there are, the merrier the bidding process will be for the seller.  Now, if you are selling excess corporate or government assets, how can you get a large number of interested buyers.  If you want to know, read this article.  The article is well written in straightforward language and filled with examples, tidbits of interesting information, and many graphics and tables enhancing the presentation.  Various auction methods are discussed and explained.  If you are not interested in this topic, you will enjoy reading the article.  If you are interested in this topic, you will be delighted.  This simply is one of the best written, best presented articles you will read.  (January 2005)

Please read Government Garage Sales: Online Auctions as Tools for Asset Management.

Competitive Sourcing:  What Happens to Federal Employees?

By Jacques S. Gansler and William Lucyshyn

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

What happens to federal employees when a competition—competitive sourcing—is held between the government and the private sector?  According to the authors of this study, the effect of such a competition on the federal employees involved has received a limited analysis.  To understand what happens, the authors analyzed all A-76 competitions conducted by the Department of Defense from 1994 through the first quarter of 2004.  In this report, they present their findings, conclusions, and recommendations.  (January 2005)

Please read Competitive Sourcing: What Happens to Federal Employees?

Articles from 2004
The Centrality of Military Procurement:  Explaining the Exceptionalist Character of United States Federal Public Procurement Law

By Joshua I. Schwartz

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

In this article the author looks at selected differences between government contract law and private contract law.  The author defines the term "exceptionalism" as contract law where the United States Government is not subject to all of the legal obligations and liabilities of private parties under private agreements.  On the other hand, the author defines the term "congruence" as contract law where United States Government is subject to the legal obligations and liabilities used by private parties under private agreements.  Using these two basic terms, the author identifies areas of contract formation and contract performance that fits under each term.  Finally, the author explains that military procurement forms the basis for exceptionalism in federal contract law. (October 2004)

Please Read The Centrality of Military Procurement: Explaining the Exceptionalist Character of United States Federal Public Procurement Law

Contractor Atrocities at Abu Ghraib:  Compromised Accountability in a Streamlined, Outsourced Government

By Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

If you have reviewed wifcon.com's analysis of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, you will have noticed several sections dealing with the Department of Defense's use of other agencies' contracts and the Department's use of contractor employees in Iraq.  You also may have noticed the specificity of the legislative language and the extended remarks of the Senate and House conferees in their conference report.  This article discusses some of the reasons for that legislation and those remarks.  Since the 1990s, policymakers have reduced the contracting workforce, increased efforts to outsource, and focused on streamlining the contracting process.  The author explains that the government ended up with untrained contractor personnel, untrained government contracting personnel, a mixed workforce of contractor and government personnel, invisible contract actions, and finally Abu Ghraib. (October 2004)  (October 2004)

Please Read Contractor Atrocities at Abu Ghraib: Compromised Accountability in a Streamlined, Outsourced Government

Making Federal Information Technology Accessible:  A Case Study in Social Policy and Procurement

By Christopher R. Yukins

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that all information technology bought by the federal government be accessible to persons with disabilities. That goal, simple to state, has been enormously complex to implement. In imposing a social initiative on the procurement system, Congress has left a huge number of issues unresolved — including, most critically, who is to pay for the initiative. This article reviews the issues raised by Section 508, and traces common patterns that emerge when, as with Section 508, social goals are implemented through a large, complex, and deeply entrenched procurement system. The article traces the impact of established constituencies, inside and outside the government, both in slowing Section 508’s progress and in filling gaps left by Congress and the regulators. The article suggests that, as the U.S. procurement system grows ever more streamlined in the coming years, the patterns and pitfalls of Section 508 — and of other social initiatives — will become an increasingly prominent part of the procurement system.  (April 2004)    

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Please read Making Federal Information Technology Accessible:  A Case Study in Social Policy and Procurement.

A Survey of Florida's Recent District Court of Appeal and Administrative Decisions Involving Bid Protests:  Challenging the Government's Conduct Regarding a Public Procurement

By Joseph M. Goldstein and Vanessa L. Prieto

This article is a survey of Florida decisions of the district courts of appeal and the Division of Administrative Hearings involving government bid protests. All Florida state agencies and most local agencies must select contractors to provide goods or services through a competitive process. If a potential contractor objects to the process that a public entity uses to select the contractor or objects to the result of the process, then it may file a lawsuit challenging the public entity's action. With regard to state agencies, there is a comprehensive administrative process that must be followed. Local entities may elect either an administrative process, or an aggrieved potential contractor can file suit in circuit court.  Because there have been few, if any, recent articles on this topic, this article briefly discusses or cites to older, leading cases that are necessary to place certain issues in context. (April 2004)    

See article inside.  (This article is in MS Word in Rich Text Format (RTF) only and is a large document.)  (696 kb)

The Level of Confidence Assessment Rating Technique:  A Tool for Source Selection

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

By Vernon J. Edwards

The Level of Confidence Assessment Rating Technique (LOCAR) is a form of risk assessment coupled with a scoring mechanism. In using it, an agency first determines the value of the promises that each offeror has made; it then determines how much confidence it has that each offeror will keep its promises; it then adjusts its assessments of each offeror’s promised value on the basis of its level of confidence in the offeror, converting promised value to expected value; finally, the agency considers its assessment of each offeror’s expected value when making nonprice/price tradeoffs in order to determine which offeror represents the best value.  In this article, the developer of LOCAR explains how it works. (April 2004)    

See MS Word (145 kb)

Consolidation of Boards of Contract Appeals:  An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come?

By Frederick J. Lees

In 1979, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy considered consolidating the various Boards of Contract Appeals (BCA) without taking action.  In 2002, the White House again proposed the consolidation of the eight civilian BCAs into a single civilian BCA as part of a proposal to help small businesses.  On the other hand, the House Small Business Committee sought to expand the number of BCAs with two new "panels" to hear the disputes of small businesses.  In this article, the author looks at how small businesses use the current BCA system, explains and compares the White House and Congressional proposals, describes the non-contract duties assigned to BCAs, provides statistics on the BCAs' workloads, and offers specific recommendations on how the BCAs can be consolidated.  As part of this article, the author provides specific information on techniques small businesses are using at the current BCAs and provides striking statistics on the decline in workload at the BCAs.  (April 2004)    

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Please read Consolidation of Boards of Contract Appeals:  An Old Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Suspension and Debarment:  Emerging Issues in Law and Policy

By Steven L. Schooner, Senator Susan M. Collins, Richard J. Bednar, Steven A. Shaw, Danielle Brian, James J. McCullough, John S. Pachter, Marcia G. Madsen, Christopher R. Yukins, and Abram J Pafford

This is a discussion of emerging issues related to the suspension and debarment of contractors that was hosted by the George Washington University Law School's Government Procurement Law Program.  Contributors to the discussion include individuals from the the U. S. Senate, the major buying agencies, the oversight community, and the private sector. The discussions provide a thorough analysis of concerns about the policy, a recent high-profile case involving a major contractor, the propriety of awarding new government work to excluded firms, the procedural importance of a contractor's response to the allegations of misconduct, the evidence supporting a criticism that the existing suspension and debarment policy fails to deter improper activity by major contractors, and issues facing contractors.  (February 2004)   

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Please Read Suspension and Debarment:  Emerging Issues in Law and Policy

A Modest Proposal

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

By Vernon J. Edwards

Put the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on a diet?  After nearly 20 years, maybe it is time for it to slim down.  For example, FAR 1.602-1(b) says: “No contract shall be entered into unless the contracting officer ensures that all requirements of law, executive orders, regulations, and all other applicable procedures, including clearances and approvals, have been met.”   However, is it possible for any human to provide assurance that a contract complies with the thousands of pages of the FAR? If not, it is time for the author's modest proposal.  (February 2004)    

See MS Word (47 kb)

Competitive Sourcing Policy:  More Sail Than Rudder?

By Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Does implementation of the federal government's competitive sourcing policy rely on smoke and mirrors?  Are we shrinking the government workforce only to grow the contractor workforce?  Can the reduced number of government contracting personnel effectively manage the increasing workload of service contracts?  In a new article, the author identifies problems with the government's competitive sourcing initiative and concludes that, without drastic change, it is doomed to fail.  (January 2004)         

Please Read Competitive Sourcing Policy: More Sail Than Rudder?

Governance by Contract:  Constitutional Visions; Time for Reflection and Choice

By Dan Guttman

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

This article begins with the 20th century reforms in which the federal government deployed private contractors to perform the basic work of government.  The author reviews the premises of these reforms, argues that the reformers identified problems associated with the balance between governmental and third party workforces, and explains that the reformers left these problems for future reformers to sort out.  As a result, the author explains that this country never debated and developed a coherent legal and cultural framework to deal with the present reality—a shadow government that operates outside the cognizance of the public, and in too many instances, outside the cognizance of the official government workforce.   However, the author claims that now, there is an opportunity to develop a reasoned vision to hold contractors and other third parties accountable in the present reality.  (January 2004)         

Please Read Governance by Contract:  Constitutional Visions; Time for Reflection and Choice.

The Time-and-Materials Contract: The Time Has Come For A Long, Hard Look

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

By Vernon J. Edwards

The use of time-and-materials contracts has long been controversial because they are considered to be extremely disadvantageous to the buyer.  Over the last three fiscal years, there has been a steady increase in their use and this increase in use will undoubtedly continue as a result of the recent enactment of the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003.  This article considers some of the issues associated with time-and-materials pricing and analyzes the government’s payment terms for these contracts.  The author concludes that these contracts are now being used in ways that differ significantly from the old paradigm of short-term, simple, small scale, blue collar tasks such as equipment overhaul and repair.  If government regulators determine that changes are needed to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the author provides recommendations for the regulators to consider.  (January 2004)

See MS Word (279 kb)

Articles from 2003
The Fixed-Price Incentive Firm Target Contract:  Not As Firm As the Name Suggests

By Robert Antonio

If any contract type can be referred to as the "black sheep" of federal contracting, it surely is the fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract (FPIF).  The FPIF was a primary issue in the enactment of the Truth in Negotiations Act in 1962 and it was at the forefront of the billions in shipbuilding overruns in the 1970s and 1980s.  However, it is a valid contract type that is recognized in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.  Capable of hiding huge anticipated cost overruns to be paid by the taxpayer, it bears the name "fixed-price."  Even with its sordid past, the author believes the FPIF has a place in contracting when it is used as it is intended.  In this article, the author explains the FPIF's key features, how it works, how it has been abused, and how a bad FPIF can be identified.  (November 2003)

See article inside.  (View or print a copy in MS Word)  (224 kb)

Competitive Negotiation WLMP Style

By Thomas D. Carroll

In 1997, the Army's Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program (WLMP) started a revolution.  Faced with reengineering the Army's wholesale logistics business processes, the new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15 Rewrite, and innovations in electronic communication, the WLMP went all the way.  This article leads the reader through the WLMP contracting process by showing how it applied the Rewrite's terms for "clarifications", "communications", "competitive range", and "negotiations" and how it applied electronic submission of proposals and source evaluation.  The process is still fresh years after contract award.  This article is recommended for all who are involved in contracting including Procurement Executives, Heads of Contracting Activities, future source selection officials, and all contract specialists.  (June 2003) 

See article inside.  (View or print a copy in MS Word)  (86 kb)

Competitive Processes in Government Contracting:  The FAR Part 15 Process Model and Process Inefficiency

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

By Vernon J. Edwards

Boiled down to its essence, choosing a contractor in a competitive acquisition is a matter of information processing. The decisionmaker collects information about alternative choices (competing firms), assesses each alternative on the basis of specified criteria (evaluation factors), and then compares each alternative to the others on the basis of those assessments in order to rank them and determine which is best. As a general rule, the more information that an evaluation panel must process, the more time and/or personnel that it will need in order to process it, and the more information that the decisionmaker will have to consider when he or she compares the competitors to determine which is best.  In this article,  the author reviews current procedures and practices to collect and evaluate this information and makes suggestions to streamline the source selection process.  (April 2003)

See article inside (View or print a copy in MS Word)  (114 kb)

The Threat of Former Employees

By Ronald S. Perlman

Increasingly, contractors are faced with problems related to information being in the hands of former employees, where the information is either considered valuable and proprietary to the former employer, is capable of being used to the advantage of some competitor, is susceptible to advantageous use by the former employee independently, or is of a potential disadvantage to the former employer.  The information can relate to suppliers, customers, process technology, unique designs, business plans, management philosophy, or virtually anything else. This article provides three examples dealing with former employee issues and includes court decisions that comment on these issues.  (April 2003)

See article in MS Word.  (58 kb)

The Five-Year Limit on Government Contracts:  Reality or Myth?

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

By Vernon J. Edwards

The question comes up again and again, usually in connection with service contracts and often with respect to the use of award-term incentives: Doesn’t the Federal Acquisition Regulation limit the duration of government contracts to five years? The purpose of this article is to describe and explain the various five-year limits on government contracts, especially as they might pertain to the use of award-term incentives.  (March 2003)

See article inside.  (View or print a copy in MS Word)  (69 kb)

Making Performance-Based Contracting Perform:  What Federal Departments and Agencies Can Learn From State and Local Governments

By Lawrence L. Martin, with his approval

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

Performance-based contracting (PBC) is one of those interesting phenomena that arise in government from time to time where practice has outpaced theory. As a result, PBC means different things to different people. This report begins by identifying the key characteristics that define the federal procurement environment and transitions into a discussion of the federal perspective on PBC. The report concludes that the federal perspective on performance-based contracting is not performance based. The state and local government perspective on PBC is then presented and it is shown that the state and local government perspective differs considerably from the federal perspective. Ten case examples are then introduced that deal with various approaches state and local governments, and in one instance a Canadian province, have taken to PBC. The 10 examples were selected because of their novel approaches to various aspects of PBC and their potential to serve as exemplars for federal departments and agencies.  (March 2003)

Please read Making Performance-Based Contracting Perform:  What Federal Departments and Agencies Can Learn From State and Local Governments 

IT Outsourcing:  A Primer for Public Managers

By James L. Perry, with his approval

By Yu-Che Chen, with his approval

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

Information technology (IT) outsourcing is an emerging phenomenon. With the increased use of IT to secure the nation and deliver public information and services, public managers look for innovative ways of quickly and effectively meeting the needs of the nation. IT outsourcing meets those needs by providing skilled IT personnel, state-of-the-art applications, cost-effective infrastructure, and quick deployment. Although it carries potential benefits, IT outsourcing also comes with risks such as loss of control over service quality. This report provides public managers with information about scope, trends, and development, and with tools to meet the challenge of managing and succeeding at an IT outsourcing project.  (March 2003)

Please read IT Outsourcing: A Primer for Public Managers

The Procurement Partnership Model:  Moving to a Team-Based Approach

By Kathryn Denhardt, with her approval

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

A new model of procurement is taking shape in government, one that encourages partnerships and teamwork rather than stovepipes and adversarial relationships. This spirit of partnership is displayed within government by having procurement professionals work in tandem with program managers throughout the cycle of a project—from creating the statement of work (SOW) or statement of objectives (SOO), to designing and implementing a contract that works.  The spirit of partnership includes contractors as well, as they become part of an interorganizational team whose members share a common goal of achieving the necessary project outcomes, and combine their experience, knowledge, and creativity to achieve those ends together.  The emerging partnership model of procurement is characterized by team-based approaches, new contracting vehicles, an outcomes orientation, and increased emphasis on open communication and due diligence.  This report describes the strategies that have worked for both achieving results and ensuring accountability and outlines what still needs to be done to see these successful approaches utilized more widely in the procurement process.  (February 2003)

Please read The Procurement Partnership Model:  Moving to a Team-Based Approach

Articles from 2002
The Future:  Scrutinizing the Empirical Case for the Court of Federal Claims

By Steven L. Schooner

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Members of the federal contracting community are aware of the existence of the U. S. Court of Federal Claims.  Among other things, the Court hears bid protests and contract disputes.  Recently, the U. S. Court of Federal Claims celebrated its 20th anniversary and the author attended.  At the conference, he asked—is the Court of Federal Claims needed?  This article provides a straightforward analysis of what the Court does, who else does it, and the significance of the Court's role in its areas of jurisdiction.  After analyzing the data and evaluating the alternatives, the author provides a nicely supported answer to his question.  (December 2002)         

Please Read The Future:  Scrutinizing the Empirical Case for the Court of Federal Claims

Model Behaviour?  Anecdotal Evidence of Tension between Evolving Commercial Public Procurement Practices and Trade Policy  

By Steven L. Schooner & Christopher R. Yukins

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

The international trade community increasingly focuses upon the purchasing practices of nation states. Developing nations and states seeking to improve their procurement systems expect to glean lessons from the evolution of procurement law regimes in developed nations, including the United States. To the extent that procurement of the United States is perceived as a model, the global community has been intrigued by its efforts to adopt more commercial practices and buy more commercial items. This paper sounds a cautionary note to developing states. Efforts to conform private sector models to government procurement regimes - no matter how efficient or practical - may prove inconsistent with the expectations of trade negotiators and could run contrary to the framework of the World Trade Organization's Government Procurement Agreement.  (November 2002)      

Please read Model Behaviour?  Anecdotal Evidence of Tension between Evolving Commercial Public Procurement Practices and Trade Policy.  

The True Story of the Wright Brothers' Contract  (It’s not what you think.)

By Vernon J. Edwards

We all know that Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first powered flight on December 17, 1903.  However, did the brothers also play an important role in performance-based contracting?  Many of us have acquired copies of the specification from the Wright brothers' contract with the U.S. Army for a heavier-than-air flying machine.  The specification includes performance requirements and appears to include incentives and disincentives related to that performance.  Does that make it a performance-based contract?  In a thoroughly researched article, Vern Edwards takes us back to the early 1900s and provides us with the answers.  (July 2002)      

See article inside.  (88 kb)

Remaking Federal Procurement

By Steven Kelman, with his approval

Courtesy of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Over the past decade, the federal government's contracting system was changed to make it less rule-bound.  These changes were concentrated in the areas of business strategy and source selection and included process streamlining, the use of best value source selections, the use of commercial items, and partnerships between government and industry.  However, there were few changes in the area of contract administration which was largely a stepchild of contract reform.  In this paper, Steven Kelman, Professor of Public Management at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, looks at the contract administration issue and addresses two questions:  (1)  What needs to be done well if contract administration in particular is to become a core competence for government, as part of a larger competence in contracting management? and (2) Is what needs to be done likely to be an attractive job to which government has some prospect of recruiting talented people?   (May 2002)

Please read Remaking Federal Procurement  (pdf. file 316 KB)

Case Study of Complex Business Management for Competitive Sourcing

By Randall J. McFadden, with his approval

In the 1990s, the Department of the Air Force initiated a competitive sourcing initiative for non-core activities with great expectations for increased performance and reduced cost.  However, Randall McFadden, Director of Headquarters, Air Combat Command, Program Management Squadron, notes that the Department had no idea how difficult or complicated this initiative would prove to be.  In this study, the author explores the cultural, process, and execution barriers that must be mitigated to perform effective outsourcing.  (May 2002)

See article inside. (pdf file - 86 KB )  

A Vision of the Government as a World-Class Buyer:  Major Procurement Issues for the Coming Decade

By Jacques S. Gansler, with his approval

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

When considering government contracting, Jacques Gansler, Director, Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the University of Maryland, explains that people tend to focus on how the government contracts for an item.  The author argues that, to achieve long-term effectiveness and efficiency, three additional issues in  government contracting need to be considered.  These three additional issues include:  Who does the buying?; What do they buy?; and From whom do they buy?  (April 2002)

Please read A Vision of the Government as a World-Class Buyer:  Major Procurement Issues for the Coming Decade

Contracting for the 21st Century:  A Partnership Model

By Wendell C. Lawther, with his approval

Courtesy of the The IBM Center for the Business of Government

How should the government acquire complex services and products?  Will traditional contractor-customer relationships suffice or is a public-private partnership more appropriate?  Wendell C. Lawther, Associate Professor of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida, provides three levels of complexity for services and products and discusses the appropriate government-contractor relationship that is best suited for quality performance under each scenario.  The author further explains that the contract administration function will continue to grow in importance.  (April 2002)  

Please read Contracting for the 21st Century:  A Partnership Model

It’s Time to Use the Legislative History of the Federal Acquisition Regulation

By Cyrus E. Phillips, IV

Have you seen the legislative history supporting the Federal Acquisition Regulation?  No?  Think again.  In accordance with federal law, Cy Phillips shows us that the intent of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council appears in Federal Acquisition Circulars.  However, he also points out that the Comptroller General, in deciding bid protests, ignores the intent of the writers of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.  What are the consequences?  In a carefully documented argument, he leads the reader to the laws that require the Council to document its intent, to a court case that identifies the legislative history as powerful evidence, and to Comptroller General decisions that ignore the intent of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council.  (April 2002)  

See article inside.   

Desiderata:  Objectives for a System of Government Contract Law

By Steven L. Schooner, with his approval  

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Steven L. Schooner addresses nine goals that are frequently identified for government procurement systems.  Using the United States procurement system as an example, he explains this government's basic approach to contracting.  Although the author acknowledges that these nine goals are not an exhaustive list, he explains that they provide sufficient options to generate debate amongst scholars, policy makers, legislators, and buyers and sellers.  Whether you are from the United States government, its state and local governments, or a government from another nation, this article provides insight into the conflicting goals of United States contracting and what this government considers important.  (March 2002)

Please read Desiderata: Objectives for a System of Government Contract Law.

The Award Term Incentive:  A Status Report.

By Vernon J. Edwards

In October 2000, Vern Edwards introduced us to the award-term incentive (Award Term:  The Newest Incentive).  Now, he is back with a status report on this incentive.  From Fiscal Year 2001, he selected 49 different award-term incentive provisions used by federal agencies.  In his new article, he identifies the agencies that used the incentive, the acquisitions in which it was used, the incentive structures, and the incentive clauses.  (February 2002)  

See article inside.

Commercial Purchasing:  The Chasm Between the United States Government's Evolving Policy and Practice.

By Steven L. Schooner, with his approval

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Steven L. Schooner, an Associate Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, provides a description of the federal government's efforts to make its purchasing more commercial.  The author identifies impediments to this effort that derive from the nature of government, the specific needs of the government, and the public's expectations regarding the expenditure of public funds.  The author suggests that the government is well served in attempting to become more commercial, but divining a happy medium - or determining just how commercial to become - is a daunting task.  (January 2002)

Please read Commercial Purchasing:  The Chasm Between the United States Government's Evolving Policy and Practice.  

Articles from 2001

Fear of Oversight:  The Fundamental Failure of Businesslike Government

By Steven L. Schooner, with his permission

Courtesy of the Social Science Research Network

Also published in the American University Law Review 

Steven L. Schooner, an Associate Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, notes the "extraordinary drop" in the number of bid protests and contract disputes and asks why.  In the article, the author evaluates a list of potential causes and provides an analysis.  Noting that government contractors long have played a vital role in monitoring most aspects of the procurement cycle, the author explains that they now appear strangely quiet.  Is this a benefit of the acquisition reform from the 1990s?  (July 2001)

Please read Fear of Oversight:  The Fundamental Failure of Business-like Government

Research and Development Dollars are Understated by Billions in The Federal Procurement Data System 

By Robert Antonio

Federal law requires the Federal Procurement Data System to adequately collect, develop, and disseminate federal contracting statistics.  Although the System does a good job of collecting data on hundreds of thousands of contract actions, billions in research and development contract dollars are being classified as services.  A simple solution exists to identify research and development dollars more clearly.  (July 2001)  See article inside.  

The Adarand Chronicle:  From Bakke to Adarand VII

By Robert Antonio

The Adarand decisions are about the use of race- or ethnic-based classifications in affirmative action programs.  In Adarand, the program was a grant program, a subcontracting program, and an incentive program.  However, the case is much more.  It provides a look at the workings of the U. S. Supreme Court.  In more than twenty pages, the author leads you through the seven Adarand decisions and the supporting cases of Bakke, Fullilove, Wygant, Croson, and Metro Broadcasting, provides an explanation of the Supreme Court's standards  of scrutiny, and provides background on Amendments 5 and 14 to the U. S. Constitution.  (May 2001)  See article inside.

Articles from 2000
Award Term:  The Newest Incentive

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

The award term incentive was first used in 1997 and is not yet described in government acquisition regulations.  Instead of rewarding a contractor for excellent performance with additional fee, it rewards the contractor by extending the contract  period of performance without a new competition. This article explains what it is and how it works.  by Vernon J. Edwards.  (October 30, 2000)  See article inside

Past Performance Revisited

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

None of us can ignore past performance issues.  As readers of the Protests page know, past performance is the most frequent topic dealt with in bid protests.  This issue includes a host of sub-issues.  Here, in one article, the various aspects of past performance are discussed.  By Cyrus E. Phillips, IV   (September 1, 2000)  See article inside

FAR Councils vs. The United States Courts--Round 3

On July 27, 2000, the Federal Acquisition Regulation Councils proposed a regulation that would deny contractors their rights under the Contract Dispute Act if they did not submit requests for final payments on a timely basis.  Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Court of Federal Claims issued decisions stating that these rights cannot be denied.  After two clear knockouts, are the Councils looking for a rematch?  by Robert Antonio.  (July 31, 2000)  See article inside.  

Do Reverse Auctions Violate FAR 15.307 (b)?

Innovation should always be a part of federal contracting.  However, federal policy often lags behind the innovators.  As federal agencies move forward with the reverse auction, it is time to ask whether the reverse auction is consistent with current federal contracting policy.  by Robert Antonio.  (July 24, 2000)  See article inside.

Inventory Control Point Leads the Way

Once is not enough for the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.  Today, they conduct a second reverse auction.  The solicitation for this auction shows that the learning process continues.  A more complicated procurement is tested and new features are added.  by Robert Antonio.  (June 30, 2000)  See article inside.

An Incentive for Commercial Items Contracts

Special to Where in Federal Contracting? 

Can performance-based requirements, service contracts, commercial items procedures, and incentives live happily together in your future contracts?  Try the award purchase contract.  by Vernon J. Edwards.  (June 19, 2000)  See article inside

Navy Sets Sail for the New World

On May 8, 2000, the Department of the Navy announced that it had completed an online "reverse auction" and that it had awarded a contract using this process.  This analysis provides a description of the solicitation's key points.  by Robert Antonio(May 21, 2000)  See article inside

From Suspended Animation to Debarment

Can the government unlawfully debar a contractor through a combination of inaction and a contract termination for the convenience of the government.  In the Summer of 1978, the General Services Administration did.  by Robert Antonio(April 1, 2000)  See article inside.

Legislating in Opposite Directions

Within the past year, Congress passed legislation to provide consistent rules for federal grants and cooperative agreements.  At the same time, Congress continued to pass legislation that exempts federal agencies from the consistent rules of the Federal Acquisition Regulation System.  Should Congress legislate in opposite directions?  by Robert Antonio(February 14, 2000)  See article inside.

Articles from 1999

Priced-Based Acquisition

If you work in defense acquisition or if you are a regular reader of publications like The Government Contractor (GC) and Federal Contracts Report (FCR), then you have heard of "price-based acquisition," and you know that some Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition managers want their contracting officers to switch from a cost-based to a price-based approach to contract pricing.  by Vernon J. Edwards.  (December 6, 1999)  See article inside.

Conflicts of Interest and Participation on A-76 Evaluation Panels  

During 1999, a controversy developed between the Comptroller General and the Office of Government Ethics over conflicts of interest involving federal employees who evaluate industry offers that may result in the loss of their jobs. This article looks at the controversy. by Robert Antonio. (October 18, 1999) See article inside.

Many Faces to Industry

How many pieces of legislation does the federal government need to award a federal contract? by Robert Antonio. (October 3, 1999) See article inside.

When Large Is Small--Or Maybe Not  

A conflict between the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Small Business Administration's procurement regulations in regard to the filing of protests on small business size determinations. by Robert Antonio. See article inside.

Reading

Legal
Rules & Tools
Workforce
Small Business

 

   
 
 

ABOUT  l CONTACT