Archive for December 2014

It’s Not As Bad As It Appears

Knowing who has the cards and playing the contracting game the way the government wants it played can more than offset the government’s inherent power.
You can offset the government’s edge by:

  • Understanding that they are under a spotlight by the public, the press, and even the Congress who gave them all the power. They do not like using their power publicly.
  • Yet if you make the waves on paper they will slap you down in a number of ways, i.e., putting an informal line thru your name, denying a protest, taking you to court, etc.
  • If you embarrass them by cheating they will put you in jail
  • Understanding that intense scrutiny causes buyers to be exceptionally risk averse. Heads do roll when contracts mess up publicly. (e.g., Obamacare web site)

Insiders (companies with contracts):

  • Play by the rules and help buyers justify contract awards and performance ratings on paper.
  • Stay out of trouble by performing at a B level or better.

It’s a paper game with the paper showing that (1) awards were made in the best interest of the taxpayer and (2) contract performance was adequate. (What the paper says may not reflect reality.)

Don’t cross them by protesting or making waves.

They want you to play the game by their rules and if you don’t watch out.

In short, by playing their game and being a stellar business partner, i.e., these people know what I need and help me in any way they can.

Unfortunately, you can’t learn to play the game without a contract.

The Government Has All of the Cards

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) is the bible of federal contracting. FAR is written to give the government all of the cards.

Federal agencies and Congress pitch “come on in, it’s an open market, we are spending the taxpayers’ dollars”.

The market is far from open. The Federal Acquisition Regulations:

  • Limit competition because open competition is impractical.
  • Allows subjective best value decisions in making awards so that buyers get what products and services they want (low bid does not have to win).
  • Allows contracting officers to make decisions that seem contrary to regulations on the basis that is in the best interest of the taxpayer.
  • Denies around 90% of contract protests.
  • Uses your taxpayer dollars and a small army of lawyers (paid for by you) to beat you in court of you disagree cross them.

And Congress writes the laws that give the executive agencies all of the cards in buying products and services.