Posted on 12/7/2011 7:40 AM

GET IN STEP, CONTRACTING OFFICERS

Get in step, contracting officers.  Your acquisition leaders are speaking out and you are not listening.  Listen to what one of industry's brightest and best has to say.  Stan Soloway, President/CEO of the Professional Services Council recently has spoken about 3 disconnects roiling the government market.  One of them is very dear to our hearts.

Stan speaks of the continuing disconnect between the acquisition leadership and the front line, the "misalignment", as he calls it.  We say contracting officers are not listening to their leaders.  Contracting officers almost uniformly are resistant to or ignorant of Dan Gordon's myth busters campaign to foster better and more consistent communications between government and industry.  Who has really paid any attention to Dan's Memorandum, undoubtedly passed down by our community's leaders?

Then there is the tendency of contracting officers, despite leadership guidance to the contrary, to use fixed priced contracts even when it is wrong to do so.  Even worse, the contracting officers then treat them as if they were cost reimbursement or time and materials contracts anyway, penalizing contractors in the process.  On top of that, the tendency to go technically equal, low price as if it is the only way to go in the present economic environment, is foolhardy.  When will contractors step up and protest the improper use of this everything is a commodity approach?

We must say that for all its faults (potential for abuse is the main one), best value best suits buying complex items and services.  The use of low price is often very risky.  The use of technically equal, low price leads to dumbing down the technical requirements and underbidding which in turn leads to terminations for default (the underqualified, improvident bidder can't perform).

So this is a call to contracting officers to listen to the government leadership.  If you have any sense of responsibility at all, you will practice what they preach.

bill@spriggsconsultingservices.com

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