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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Organization Conflict of Interest (OCI) In Small Business Federal Government Contracting

 
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INTRODUCTION

While planning, marketing, teaming, proposing or performing under federal government programs (particularly service contracts) the small business will encounter the term, "Organizational Conflicts of Interest" or "OCI". The term has been established by the government as part of the process to control procurement integrity.

OCI clauses in solicitations and contracts require that companies certify their organizations and personnel do not have a procurement integrity issue with regard to a pending contract award or disclose what may be deemed an issue and provide mitigating factors to still be considered.

This site has discussed procurement integrity and the law at the following article:

Meeting OCI requirements involves strategic planning to avoid situations where your company, your management and/or your personnel are placed in potentially compromising positions while government contracting in your industry.

An apparent win can be delayed indefinitely by a competitor protest claiming OCI. Government actions after the fact if an OCI violation is uncovered will be annotated to a contractor's past performance history and in severe cases result in disbarment from government contracting.

This article will define Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCI),  discuss situations under which OCI issue are likely to occur and recommend strategic planning and processes to manage the requirement. 

DEFINITION

The term "organizational conflicts of interest" means that a relationship or situation exists whereby an offer or a contractor has past, present, or currently planned interests that either directly or indirectly (through a client, contractual, financial, organizational or other relationship) may relate to the work to be performed under the forthcoming contract and:

 (a) may diminish its capacity to give impartial, technically sound, objective performance

 (b) may result in it having an unfair competitive advantage.

It includes chief executives and directors, to the extent that they will or do become involved in the performance of the contract, and proposed consultants or subcontractors where they may be performing services similar to the services provided by the prime contractor. 

It does not include the normal flow of benefits from the performance of the contract.

EXAMPLES

1. Competing for a management/services contract that might require the contracting company to evaluate its own or its competitors’ products for use by the government

2.  Competing to supply products/services for which you have designed the specifications

3.  Access to other companies’ proprietary information that has not been authorized for use in landing/performing the contract

4.  Access to other companies’ proprietary information obtained by leveraging the contract in question, which might provide an unfair competitive advantage.


The below article in the Washington Post addresses an apparent blatant example of OCI:

OCI Case Sheds Needed Light On Government Contracting

TYPICAL OCI REPRESENTATION AND DISCLOSURE

Below are exampes of typical representation certifications and disclosure statements required by OCI regulations.   For a given procurement either the Representation or the Disclosure is submitted - not both:


OCI REPRESENTATION STATEMENT

I hereby certify (or as a representative of my organization, I hereby certify) that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, no facts exist relevant to any past, present or currently planned interest or activity (financial, contractual, personal, organizational or otherwise) which relate to the proposed work; and bear on whether I have (or the organization has) a possible conflict of interest with respect to (1) being able to render impartial, technically sound, and objective assistance or advice; or (2) being given an unfair**competitive advantage.

Signature: Date:

Name : Organization:

Title :


OCI DISCLOSURE STATEMENT


I hereby certify (or as a representative of my organization, I hereby certify) that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, all relevant facts--concerning past, present or currently planned interests or activities (financial, contractual, organizational or otherwise) which relate to the proposed work and bear on whether I have (or the organization has) a possible conflict of interest with respect to (1) being able to render impartial, technically sound, and objective assistance or advice, or (2) being given and unfair**competitive advantage--are fully disclosed on the attached page(s) and formatted to show:

o For ease of presentation, divide following data into four parts: Organizational,
contractual, financial, other;

o The company, agency, organization in which you have a past, present, or currently planned interest or activity (financial, contractual, organizational, or otherwise);
 
o A brief description of relationship;

o A period of relationship;

o The extent of relationship (e.g., value of financial interest of work; percent of total holdings, total work, etc.).


Signature:


 Date:


** An unfair competitive advantage does not include the normal flow of benefits from the performance of the contract. 

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT FACTORS

When considering the implications of OCI, examine your strategic plan for the following factors:

1.   Examine your market niche and what aspects of it would be subject to OCI as a function of your company role in it or the roles of past and future  personnel and suppliers or prime contractors. 

2.   If you are considering becoming  a SETA contractor determine what portion of the market in your industry will be unavailable to you in that role.  Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) contractors are civilian employees or government contractors who are contracted to assist the government (In some areas of DOD, the acronym SETA refers to "Systems Engineering and Technical Assessment" contractors; also refers to "Systems Engineering and Technical Analysis.")  SETA contractors provide analysis and engineering services in a consulting capacity, working closely with the government's own staff members. SETA contractors provide the flexibility and quick availability of expertise without the expense and commitment of sustaining a government staff long-term.

3.  Bear in mind that non-disclosure agreements and OCI requirements for major programs have long term implications and expiration dates. 

4.  Keep in mind that subcontractor and prime contractor relationships also bear on OCI.  Vet your prospective teaming companies and suppliers carefully with regard to the OCI impact they may have on ventures you undertake and flow the requirement down to them in the early stages of any teaming agreement with them. 

5.  Carefully consider the following guidance from FAR Part 9.505:

 
“Each individual contracting situation should be examined on the basis of its particular facts and the nature of the proposed contract. The exercise of common sense, good judgment, and sound discretion is required in both the decision on whether a significant potential conflict exists and, if it does, the development of an appropriate means for resolving it. The two underlying principles are—

 
(a) Preventing the existence of conflicting roles that might bias a contractor’s judgment; and

 
(b) Preventing unfair competitive advantage. In addition to the other situations described in this sub-part, an unfair competitive advantage exists where a contractor competing for award of any Federal contract possesses — Proprietary information that was obtained from a Government official without proper authorization; or  Source selection information (as defined in 2.101) that is relevant to the contract but is not available to all competitors, and such information as would assist that contractor in obtaining the contract.”

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

If a potential for a conflict of interest is real, it is best to make that fact a principal factor in your bid/no bid decision.

If you feel the risk could be mitigated and an effective OCI management plan could be submitted as part of your proposal to the government then carefully establish how such practical matters as firewalls, OCI certifications and clearances at the individual worker level will be handled.

Keep careful records of all written certifications and commitments in the form of NDA's, Teaming Agreements and OCI Certifications and Disclosures.  Review them on a regular basis for renewal, expiration and in connection with bid/no bid decisions.

Be open and honest in your presentation of the facts to the government.  Your past performance rating will take a major hit if OCI is uncovered after award and you have not made full and open disclosure previously.


NOTE:  Comments at this post have been maintained from previous discussions on this topic at "Small to feds" in the interest of demonstrating the often complex nature of the OCI process.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

7 Techniques to Profile Your Government Contract Competition



INTRODUCTION

Even though small businesses enjoy set aside opportunities in government competition, the majority of set-aside procurement bids are populated with several competitors.

Early market research, industry teaming and customer relations are necessary on the road to a set-aside win.  Marketing to Achieve a Set aside Government Contract

Once a bid target is selected, competitive analysis is vital. This is particularly true in service contracting.  As the small enterprise moves on into the full and open market, it is even more vital to know who else is bidding and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Make a bid/no bid decision. Making an Astute Bid/No Bid Decision

If you decide to bid, develop a model of your competition as a validating tool for your proposal approach.  Develop a profile of your competitor’s likely technical solution, past performance, personnel qualifications and cost buildup.

WHO IS THE COMPETITION?

If the government is offering a bidder’s conference, go to the meeting and attend any tours offered. Then obtain the list of attendees from the solicitation contracting officer.

Examine the contract award history on the agency web site and award notices under the “Agency Listing” at SAM.  Determine who has been awarded previous contracts by the agency and who the present incumbent may be for your bid if the requirement is not a new one and is presently being performed by another company.

Make inquiries regarding the competitor through industry partners and prime contractors with whom you are associated and with whom you hold Non-Disclosure Agreements. Question them regarding the pending procurement who they believe are the bidding companies.

PROFILE YOUR COMPETITOR

Check the Competitor’s  General Services Administration (GSA) ScheduleMost government contractors who have been in business long enough to qualify for a significant procurement also establish a GSA Schedule.  Virtually all of them post that schedule at their web site.  For products it will contain the prices through profit for items the company wishes to sell off the schedule to the government.  For services the schedule usually contains fully loaded labor rates through overhead, G&A and profit.  Examine the schedule and note the prices, comparing them to your cost build ups. GSA schedules are usually projected for a 5 year period.  Achieving and Utilizing a GSA Schedule

Consider A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request. Note from company web sites, FEDBIZOPPS award announcements, press releases and other public data the contract numbers your competitor has been awarded by the agency to whom you are bidding.  Consider similar program history in other agencies if the present bid has no recent competitor history. Then submit a FOIA request to the agency FOIA Point of Contact listed at the government web site, identifying the document or documents you are requesting specifically by name and identifying number (s).  When requesting contracts, RFP’s, change orders and similar data, always include the contract number and be specific with regard to references to all changes.  If proposals are requested include a specific request for management, technical and cost volumes. The more detail you provide the more likely the response will supply what you wish to have. Utilizing the Freedom of Information Act

Obtain Competitor Dunn and Bradstreet (D&B) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) Reports. You have a D&B Number.  So do your competitors.  Use your registration at the Dunn and Bradstreet web site to order a D&B report on your competition.  It will provide detailed history of the company, its ownership, the length it has been in existence, its credit and payment history, as well as other useful information.  D&B charges a fee for the reports, but you can order them as needed and pay by the report.   Dunn and Bradstreet  A BBB report is free and may provide insights into complaints, problem resolutions and related matters from the buying public.Better Business Bureau

Review the “Project on Government Oversight” (POGO) Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD).  This data base has surprising detail on many government contractors who have undergone federal legal actions such as defective pricing and other violations of the FAR, yet remain in business having paid fines or financed continuing litigation.   The site is free POGO Contractor Misconduct Data Base

Make a Physical Visit. Visit your competitor’s location, particularly if it is local.  Make sure you are viewing the cost center out of which the job will be bid.  Many businesses have multiple cost centers at multiple locations to maximize competitive factors on government contracts.  Cost Center Strategic Planning  Without entering the facility, assess the size of the operation, the traffic entering and leaving and relative indirect cost factors that can be generally observed, such as square footage, headcount of employees, the size and content of the parking lot and related matters.

Post Generic Help Wanted Ads at Your Web Site and Elsewhere on the Web.  Without revealing the specific contract or program (unless you believe it will benefit you) publish job descriptions and openings for the skill sets necessary to perform the work required by the new program, even if you already have the personnel on board.  Look for interviewees who have worked for, or are presently on, the competitor’s payroll and invite them for a visit at a neutral location. Some companies even announce a job fair for the program.  Talent is fluid today. It is also being re-defined.  Thus, what used to be considered a “Pool” (either captive or available) is now a technologically-equipped, high speed resource of communicators with motivated skill sets seeking opportunity. Economic hardship has also put a hard, cynical edge on many.  Selling must occur both ways (employer and employee).  To an extraordinary degree the age in which we live is requiring us to redefine trust and the degree to which communication and expectation contribute to it. Loyalty has taken a back seat to the above.  Recruiters, companies and entrepreneurs must recognize these hard facts of life.  Is the term, "Talent Pool" Obsolete?

Develop A Cost Model of Your Competition. Make a copy of your cost model spreadsheet for the job and modify it to look like your competitor. To see examples, check the models labeled “Attachments A and B” in XLS spread sheets within the “Books by Ken” BOX in the right margin of this site.  Plug your direct costs for labor, material, ODC (travel and the like) into the competitor model, then using information developed above, evolve estimated indirect cost factors for Overhead, G&A and Profit/ Assume that all competitors will have to pay the same relative wage scale as you have determined by salary survey  to attract or retain talent and a fringe benefits package to meet government requirements for vacation, sick leave, holidays, taxes and similar expenses. Then focus on the overhead and G&A as key factors in winning the pricing criteria for the job, comparing your bid to the competitor cost model. Pricing Small Business Federal Government Contracts

SUMMARY

An effective competitor profile contains performance, historical, demographic, statistical, physical operations, human resource and cost information that is trending in nature and provides insights and comparative balance to a challenging bid. It is a key tool in performing risk analysis and making related trade off judgments in the final submission of your bid or proposal.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What is a "Compliant" Federal Government Contracting Small Business System?


It seems the single word, "Compliance" in small business federal government contracting business systems implies many different things:

  • Small Business wishes to know about compliance to assess the cost of doing business with the government, assure readiness and business system capability.
  •  Software Suppliers maintain they have compliant tools to achieve government contracting business management and wish to sell them.
  • The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) has the mission to insure compliance with Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
  • Defense Contract Management Agency Fact Finding Teams wish to observe small business systems to determine if an enterprise is capable of pricing, job cost accounting and billing consistency.
  • Prime Contractors wish to know if a subcontractor is compliant with FAR and CAS so related flow down clauses can be made part of contractual agreements.
The criteria for determining government contracting small business system "Compliance”, as discussed above, is met when:

1. The business system is unique to the company, and recognizes the way the firm is organized and the way it manufactures or delivers products, supplies or services. Each company does business in a slightly different way, performs services or delivers products with organizations that function in various manners and yet all ultimately meet Modified US Government Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) objectives by live data demonstrating consistency with regard to cost allocation to contract objectives in pricing, job cost accounting, billing and closeout.

2. The business system meets Modified Cost Accounting Standard (CAS) Coverage defined by the government is as follows:


Standard 9904.401, Consistency in Estimating, Accumulating, and Reporting Costs  Standard 401


Standard 9904.402, Consistency in Allocating Costs Incurred for the Same Purpose Standard 402

Standard 9904.405, Accounting for Unallowable Costs Standard 405     Unallowable Costs


Standard 9904.406, Cost Accounting Standard—Cost Accounting Period  Standard 406


Modified, rather, than full, CAS coverage may be applied to a covered contract of less than $50 million awarded to a business unit that received less than $50 million in net CAS-covered awards in the immediately preceding cost accounting period.
 

The following article contains practical business system guidance regarding building a Modified CAS Coverage Small Business System for federal government contracting:
Managing Risk In Business System Development

Read the above government requirements and business system development guidance, and then give your selected method of business management the Modified CAS litmus test. Make a judgment that is the best for your company and try it out on DCAA. If they have problems with the approach you can adjust it.

The bottom line objective is that you wish government approval going forward so that your rates are accepted in proposals, your audits have a satisfactory outcome and you get paid when you submit a billing. Without those critical success factors the business cannot operate.




Monday, February 17, 2020

Managing Subcontractors And Independents As A Small Business Prime Contractor

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Industry teaming is a fact of life in small business federal government contracting. Your team for a given contract pursuit may consist of several types of industry partners external to your organization. 

If you are the business lead by virtue of teaming agreements that recognize your small business set-aside designation as the qualifier for leadership, you have a management challenge. That challenge involves issuing agreements and purchase orders to independent contractors as individuals and negotiating fully executed subcontracts with firms subcontracting to you.

The techniques in managing each of these partner types are distinct. The contractual and regulatory factors are introduced in the following link:

What is a Small Business Federal Government Contractor

This article will convey guidance for a small business federal government prime contractor, in managing the external business relationships with other companies as subcontractors and independents as individuals.

EARLY AND CAREFUL PARTNER SELECTION/TEAM MANAGEMENT

Finding industry teaming partners should occur synonymous with finding an opportunity. We have previously discussed marketing federal business opportunities:

Multiple Front Marketing


SAM Contract Opportunities

Small Business Teaming

Assuming you have located an industry partner or perhaps a mix of subcontractors and/or independent individuals you wish to engage, make sure they have the capabilities to perform the parts of the statement of work on the program you are targeting. Remember that the quality of your proposal, your probability of a win, and ultimately your past performance rating on the contract, will reflect your supplier management. The government will hold you accountable for their performance. In some cases agencies will reserve the right to approve your key personnel and subcontractors before issuing your prime contract.

Two general guidelines should be observed:

1. Do not subcontract in excess of 40% of the program to another company in terms of hours, dollars and % of total work scope. The FAR regulations specify 49% as a ceiling but it is best to reserve 60% of the effort for your company employees and independent contractors under your control to avoid appearances of a front.

2. Do not exceed 50% of the internal labor hours for your company share of the program with contractors as individuals. Government source selection boards need some assurance that the capability to lead and perform major parts of the program resides in the permanent party of the small business prime contractor.

If you exceed the 50% rule for independents, include contingent hire agreements demonstrating the point in time where they will become full time employees or will be replaced by full time employees. A contingent hire agreement may be downloaded from the Box Net References Cube in the right margin of this site.

Sign subcontractors and independents to proprietary data agreements.  Develop thorough teaming agreements with subcontractors, including an explicit statement of work attachment to each agreement quantifying, the work scope guidelines in paragraph 1, above. A teaming agreement is available for download in the Box Net references cube at this site.

The independent should also understand the specific work and hours he or she will be expected to perform on the job and such personnel should be retained on a contractor retention agreement which is also available for download in the Box Net References cube at this site.

Teaming agreements, contingent hire agreements, contractor retention agreements and subcontractor proposals must be either included in your proposal submission to the government or made available for government fact finding.

CONTRACT DOCUMENTATION AND TRANSITION FROM PROPOSAL TO CONTRACT

During the proposal stage of the business relationship with your industry partners you will be issuing them requests for proposals (RFP’s) for their portion of the effort.

For independent contractors this may be as simple as asking them to sign contingent hire agreements or contractor retention agreements.


But you must include in the RFP’s to the companies which you propose as subcontractors the terms and conditions of your agency prime contract RFP and other specific guidance to make the proposal and subsequent contracting process work smoothly. This should include administrative guidelines and agreed upon cost targets and technical guidance.

Specify a due date for their proposals in response to your RFP in time to roll their data into your cost volume and provide guidance on the handling of fully loaded rate backup to which you do not have access to forward to the government auditors. This usually includes sealed packages provided by your subcontractors that you will not open, since they contain overhead and G&A rate information which is highly proprietary to the subcontractor.

Keep in mind that you are in a constant negotiation with these partners until you award them subcontracts to replace the teaming agreements when your team wins the program. Please see the following article for detail guidance on that point:

Contract Negotiation

Naturally the technical and management volumes of the proposal will be completed in consonance and in parallel with the subcontractor RFP cost proposal responses.

At contract award, be prepared to negotiate and execute formal subcontracts to the companies with whom you are teamed and to issue purchase orders to your independents to commence work. At that point you have achieved the contract baseline and you will commence work.
 Insure that your subcontracts and purchase orders contain limitation of funds and funding exposure protection for all parties in accordance with the following article:

Limitation of Funds and Funding Exposure

BASELINE MANAGEMENT

Please read the following article carefully on baseline management and bear in mind that work scope change sensitivity must be managed carefully and formally documented between you and your industry partners by change orders to formal subcontracts and purchase orders:

Contract Baseline Management

SUMMARY

This article has provided an overview of subcontractor and independent contractor management from the early marketing stages of a contract pursuit through proposal preparation and submission then contract award and baseline management.

Please read the reference links in the text above carefully and check the table of contents at this site for other information relevant to this topic.











Saturday, February 15, 2020

10 Common Traits Among Successful Small Business Government Contractors


As a volunteer counselor over the last 14 years, I have noted common traits among the most successful small business federal government contractors.  The following are 10 of the most prominent traits and tips on how successful small companies developed them
Commercial success before entering government contracting.  From maintaining buildings to keeping the lights on, from grounds maintenance to flight maintenance, look for niches that can be pursued based on successful past performance, transitioning via industry teaming via subcontracts, partner roles with larger companies or in small business set aside orders for minor items and simpler services provided directly to the government.  Your Entry Points
Willingness to concede there were things they did not know and seeking advice early.   You may download the book, SmallBusiness Federal Government Contracting and its supplement from the "Box" in the right margin of this site.  You may also benefit from the free "Reference Materials". Contract agreements, incorporation instructions for all the US states, guidance on marketing and business planning are also included.   Free Books and Supplements
Recognition of the value in industry teaming. Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects. Small Business Teaming in Government Contracting 
Strong capability statement (CAPE) development, networked prudently among government agencies and large government contractors. Your CAPE targets contracting officers and prime contractor buyers who are seeking to fulfill their small business buying goals. It is a way to get you in the door and speak to, or correspond with, the management and technical personnel who are the decision makers in sourcing small business buys.  A good quality CAPE is the spearhead of your marketing campaign and your visual image;  focused and direct, it must be informative, concise and a snapshot of the very best you can offer. Your Capability Statement
Maximizing set-aside qualifications in seeking both prime and subcontract opportunities. Small business group-designated procurements are far more frequent than sole source contract awards.  Agencies must prepare special justifications for sole sourcing and those most frequently approved are for Hub Zone and Small, Disadvantaged [8(a)] firms.  Small business group designations are beneficial to firms who hold them by enhancing the probability of an award through agency restrictions on prime contractor bidding to only those who hold the group designation. Others may bid as subcontractors to the prime but the prime small business contractor must be capable of performing at least 51% of the total effort in terms of work scope, hours and dollarsMarketing to Achieve a Small Business Set-aside Contract
Prudent bid/no bid decisions. Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated.  When considering a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise. By going through that process you will begin formulating your win strategy or you will discover that you should not bid the job for lack of such a strategy. Making an Astute Bid/No Bid Decision
Ethical business conduct and avoidance of conflicts of interest. A small business ethics image is different than a product or service "Brand Identity". The latter focuses on that which the customer receives from you in the way of products and/or services. A company ethics image is how the organization is viewed in general from a public perception as positive or negative.  That view is held by customers, your industry partners or prospective partners, regulators and the average citizen. If carefully sculpted your public ethics image can be a vital element in business success; if neglected it can pose a high risk to your enterprise.  Maintaining an Ethical Company Image
Excellence in risk analysis. The challenges and difficulties for the small business in government contracting are not so much in the areas of barriers as  they are in lack of knowledge (which I concede is a form of barrier but one that can be dealt with) Large business and government agencies take advantage of the small enterprise lack of knowledge or make poor assumptions regarding what a small business knows about the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and associated Cost Accounting Standards (CAS). This leads directly to abusive practices. Managing Small Business Risk
 Solid long range planning and plan maintenance. The time to consider separating government from commercial work and/or establishing new cost centers for bidding, accounting and billing purposes is when the enterprise is generating a long range marketing plan to determine rates for bidding new long term contracts. The location of the work (both geographic location and whether performance is in or out of a government facility, its duration, skill set requirements, government-mandated fringe benefits for workers and the competition are all factors to consider).Strategic Planning for Small Business
Excelling in meeting the past performance challenge, building a performance record with solid customer service and sensitivity.  How can a new organization or one that is new to government contracting muster a response to the past performance challenge? The answer lies in historical projects that may be similar in the commercial arena and a high quality proposal that clearly demonstrates an understanding of the requirement at hand, a unique and cost effective project plan and high performing personnel and/or products tailored to the statement of work to offset an interim, light past performance record. Meeting the Past Performance Challenge

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Factors To Consider When Hiring And Managing Military Veterans In Small Business


Image Courtesy "Spike Dot Com" http://www.spike.com/shows/hire-a-vet



INTRODUCTION

There are two important types of professional roles to consider when hiring and managing military veterans in the small business venue.  As a veteran who made the transition to civilian professional work and ultimately owned a small enterprise, and as a counselor who supports veterans in becoming business owners, my experience over several decades indicates military men and women do well in Role 1 below. They have the most challenges with Role 2.

ROLE 1 - TECHNICAL


Scientific, engineering, logistics, electronics, design and similar skill sets where direct supervision, team building, corporate policy compliance and human resource planning and utilization are not major factors.

VS.

ROLE 2- MANAGEMENT

 
Functional process capacities responsible for hiring, evaluation, supervision, compliance with civilian law and department activities involving group dynamics, customer relations and sensitive human factors.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE


I came out of the military having had a leadership role in engineering, base development planning and combat support. I served in war zones in Southeast Asia and on highly classified missions. I was not a manager. I was a military leader in specialized skill sets under Role 1 above.

I knew how to direct people who followed orders without question because the Uniform Code of Military Justice to which they swore an oath said they must do so.
 
I felt uncomfortable in jobs involving Role 2 above because they were foreign to me. I later adjusted, learned the venue and became skilled as a manager in the corporate world. I preferred staff assignments, however for most of my career. The corporate venue seemed enormously political and bureaucratic to a former war fighter like me. I was not that tactful,cut to the chase often and did not always take everyone with me when I made a decision.

Once I grew into a Role 2 performer, I found in interviewing, hiring, evaluating and managing young veterans, even seasoned ones, who had retired and joined the civilian workforce, that almost all were better suited for Role 1. It took years and effort on my part to fit them into Role 2 and some never made it.


ANALYSIS 

The principal reason for the logic conveyed above is that the military environment may seem to be structured in a way that fits Role 2, but the military does not turn out individuals who are suited in the knowledge and experience necessary in the civilian environment and they are not very good at it without extensive training and adaptation.
 

Small enterprises have multiple-faceted challenges and they require multiple- faceted people. Even though individuals may hold a specific position job title, the small operation demands avenues where the human resource can contribute in multiple ways.

If a contributor has experience in several areas the small business can utilize, that makes him or her a valuable resource and it is likely they will be professionally fulfilled and rewarded from doing so. Military personnel have specialty training and focus; few have a wide view of what is in front of them, particularly with respect to the military vs. civilian professional setting.

If the professional is in a narrow, technical discipline and his or her expectations are to have others support them in that role or if they are more comfortable in a "Stove-piped" professional setting and not attuned to group dynamics and the often politically correct nature of the civilian organization, they perhaps belong in technical roles and they do not belong in small business management roles at the onset of their employ.


SUMMARY

In fairness to veterans and to our hopes for them in the future we must understand these distinctions, build on Role 1, understand the risk in Role 2 and assist wherever possible.







Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Making an Astute Bid/No Bid Decision




                                                                                              Image: "Complex2clear"
INTRODUCTION:

Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated. When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise. By going through that process you will begin formulating your win strategy or you will discover that you should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are discussed below in the form of questions to ask yourself against topics for key consideration.  Affirmative or non-affirmative answers to the topical questions and ability to fill in the blanks below will drive your decision to bid or not bid a solicitation.

A. Customer:
Do you know this customer? Yes __ No ___
Does this customer know you? Yes___No ___
Do you have any idea of the available funding for which the customer has obtained authorization? Yes___No ____
Specify the marketing contacts which have been made with the customer thus far:
Date:
Contact:

B. Supplies and Services:
Specify the supplies and services to be delivered in the prospective contract:

Line Item (s):

Description:

Are supplies and services in the RFP Statement of work a good match for what the company sells? Yes ___No ___
Is the RFP Statement of Work specific enough to identify risks? Yes____No ____
Is the RFP schedule specific enough to determine the delivery requirements? Yes____No____
Can the delivery schedule in the RFP be met? Yes ___No _____
Specify the delivery schedule for the prospective contract:

Line Item:

Delivery Date:

C. Contract Type/Value/Start/End Date:
Does the proposed contract type (FFP, CP, T&M, etc) suit the nature of the work? Yes___ No ___
Specify the contract type for this program: _______________.
Are there any unusual terms and conditions specified in the government RFP? Yes ____No___
Specify any unusual terms and conditions: ___________________________________________

What is the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) value of the prospective contract? $___________.
What is the anticipated start date of the contract? ________.
What is the anticipated end date of the contract? ________.

D. Company Strengths: 

Is this prospective contract for effort in which the company has strong skills? Yes____No ____
Specify the strengths the company will utilize in meeting the product specification or statement of work:

E. Company Weaknesses:

Are there any company weaknesses in meeting the product specification or statement of work? Yes ___No ___
Specify any weaknesses for which the company must compensate and manage associated risks:

F. Teaming Arrangements (If any):
Does company plan to team with other companies in the performance of the prospective contract? Yes ___No ___
Identify the other team member companies:

Will your company be a prime or a subcontractor? Prime___Subcontractor ____
Have NDA's and Teaming Agreements been executed? Yes____No ______

G. Competition:
Is this a sole source set-aside procurement to your company? Yes____No____
If this is a competitive procurement, identify the prospective competition and their associated strengths/weaknesses:

H. Win Strategy:
Identify the proposal features and themes which will be utilized in the proposal as discriminators to win this program:

Management:

Technical:

Cost:

I
. Proposal Budget:
Estimate the man hours and dollars for proposal labor, any travel expenses, shipping, packaging, samples and other expenses associated with preparing the proposal. The government does not reimburse the contractor for proposal preparation under the subsequent contract. Proposal expenses must be included in the cost center overhead or G&A and accounted for as marketing expense allocated across the cost center or the company.

Labor Hours __
Labor Dollars $______
Material _______
Travel _______
Reproduction _______
Samples (if any) _______
Packaging/Binding/Ship _______
TOTAL $_______

J. Analysis: 

If you can answer "YES" to at least 5 of the questions under paragraphs A through D above, it is likely you should bid this procurement.

If the answers to 7 of the 10 "YES" or "NO" questions under paragraphs A through D above are "NO" it is unlikely you should bid this procurement unless the answer to G is "YES". Even then, examine your answers and carefully review whether this business is suitable for your company. 

If the answer to E is "YES", it is unlikely you will bid this procurement successfully unless the answer to G is "YES". Even then, determine how you will overcome the weaknesses you have identified in your company associated with doing this work before you decide to bid it. 

Carefully compare the competitive analysis under Item G to the win statagy under H before you make your final decision.

K. Decision: 

BID _____

No Bid _______