The PCI Network – Character Traits for a Great Government Contracts Professional

In this episode of The PCI Network, the head of our FUN with the FAR series, Stephen Daoust, discusses the four traits of a great government contracts professional. Throughout his 25-year career, Steve has worked as a Chief Government Contracts Counsel, Director of Contracts, and Chief Compliance Officer for both publicly traded companies like Iridium and Affiliated Computer Services and large accounting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he was asked on a daily basis to provide expert advice and counsel on the negotiation and administration of contracts with federal, state, and local Governments. Check out what he has to say below!

“Do You Know” what to do when your contracting officer is too busy to answer your calls and wants to delegate authority to a contracting specialist?

Consider this scenario.  Your Contracting Officer tells you that he is too busy to manage your specific contract and suggests that, instead of calling him, you should speak to and get guidance from the assigned Contract Specialist about any problems that you may have under the contract.  Can you rely upon the directions and guidance that you receive from the contract specialist; especially if the direction you are given may cause you to incur additional costs? My advice is to be very careful in this situation.  Although not common in the federal contracting sector, some Contracting Specialists do possess a certain amount of warrant authority. I always remind my students to review Section G of their contract when trying to determine who has authority to … Continue reading

“Do You Know” the difference between a D&F and a J&A?

A determination and findings (D&F) is defined at FAR 1.701 as:
” a special form of written approval by an authorized official that is required by statute or regulation as a prerequisite to taking certain contract actions. The ‘determination’ is a conclusion or decision supported by the ‘findings.’ The findings are statements of fact or rationale essential to support the determination and must cover each requirement of the statute or regulation. A D&F is required in a variety of situations. For example, a D&F is required if an agency wants to award a time-and-materials or labor-hour contract (FAR 16.601(d)), place an order pursuant to the Economy Act (FAR 17.503), exclude one or more sources from competing for a contract (FAR 6.202), or contract without providing for … Continue reading

Friday FUN with the FAR: Question One

Question: FAR 1.102(c)(2) provides that the Federal Acquisition System must shift its focus from “risk avoidance” and “elimination of all risk” to one of “risk management”.  Do you think this guiding principle is being fulfilled in today acquisition environment? Please leave your answers in the comments section. We hope to hear from you! * This post is part of a series entitled “Friday Fun with the FAR” Discussion Question? and the questions come from our bi-weekly FUN with the FAR webisode series that is an exceedingly popular and interactive experience for all. Season 2 of FUN with the FAR starts soon, click here to learn more!  

The Importance of Clarifying the Contracting Officer’s Representative’s Role The FAR Council issued a final rule effective July 22, 2013 to “improve contract surveillance by clarifying the contracting officer’s representative (COR) responsibilities.”  Michael Jackson, Procurement Analyst for GSA, said that the rule was mainly administrative in nature, to clean up language in the FAR at 1.602-2(d) and 7.104.  The change at 7.104 is significant because it raises the awareness of the procurement team to appoint a COR as early in the acquisition planning as possible.  It is thought that if the COR is involved from the very start of a project, he or she will make a more effective contribution.  The case arose out of the DoD Panel on Contracting Integrity recommendation. This panel, consisting of senior level DoD procurement executives, reviews the … Continue reading

Gratuities – Cautionary Tales for Contractors and Government Employees – Fred Geldon

Recent events demonstrate that government investigators and prosecutors are taking more seriously the ethical regulations that govern gratuities.  Cases in point: On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release announcing that a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) employee had pled guilty to a charge of receiving unlawful gratuities.  The BOP employee, a supervisory traffic management specialist in the BOP Relocation Services section, was responsible for giving relocating BOP employees a list of approved movers and then referring their move to agents of the chosen carrier.  While performing these duties the employee received spa and salon gift cards in the amount of $1,007 and $790 from one carrier’s agent, as well as free moving services from moving companies.  The BOP employee was … Continue reading

FAR Knowledge Quiz

Below are the answers to Steve’s 5 FUN with the FAR questions posted on LinkedIn.  How did you do?  Steve can’t wait for the series to begin. We hope you can join in the fun and “Go FARther℠” with us as we begin our journey on August 14! [Note for our regular Blog readers: Steve Daoust, the lead instructor for PCI’s 25 bi-weekly webisode series, Fun with the FAR ℠, starting in August 2013, has promised to enlighten and entertain you with FUN FAR FACTS, and answer questions throughout the year. Steve is so excited about the inaugural show which will focus on FAR Parts 1 & 2, that he could not wait to start a dialogue with you and test your FAR knowledge.  If you … Continue reading

New SBA Size Standards: When Will They Become Final?

Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a new rule setting size standards for the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes known as NAICS 2012.  See 77 Fed. Reg. 49,991 (Aug. 20, 2012).  The rule, which has an effective date of October 1, 2012, will affect 199 industry codes, most of which are in the manufacturing sector.  Given that Federal solicitations are required to state both the applicable NAICS code and the size standard that has been established by the SBA for that NAICS code so that offerors can correctly represent themselves as “small” business concerns (or as large businesses), the effective date for new size standards is important for both government and industry.  But the SBA’s dilatory rulemaking in this case, plus impending … Continue reading

Proposed FAR Rule Requires a Broad Universe of Government Contractors to Safeguard Contractor Information Systems

Guest Authors: Elizabeth Ferrell & Erin Sheppard, McKenna Long & Aldridge.  Originally posted at On August 24, 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a proposed rule requiring contractors to safeguard contractor information systems containing information provided by or generated for the government.  Federal Acquisition Regulation, Basic Safeguarding of Contractor Information Systems, 77 Fed. Reg. 51496 (Aug. 24, 2012) (the “Proposed Rule”). The Proposed rule adds a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart and contract clause that make basic information protection measures a contractual obligation.  The Proposed Rule mandates basic protection measures on contractor information systems and contractors’ use of non-public government information aimed at deterring unauthorized disclosure, loss, or compromise of non-public Government information.  Id.  Prior to … Continue reading

Wiggle Room In DOD Vehicle Lease Not Big Enough to Drive a Truck Through! – A Case Study

The Overseas Logistics Group (“OLG”) sued the Department of Defense for breach of contract in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims over a contract to lease vehicles to DoD. The contract originally required the government to repair the vehicles to the condition in which it had received them.  After a modification, the contract then required the government to either pay for repairs resulting from normal wear and tear or, if repairs would cost 75% or more of the actual value of the vehicle, to reimburse OLG for the actual value of the vehicle, less depreciation. OLG claimed that the government breached the contract by returning leased vehicles to OLG in damaged condition, and neither repaired them nor paid OLG for the cost of repairs. Additionally, … Continue reading