Fred’s FAR Fact or Fiction: Nobody Cares About Contract Closeout

Fiction/Myth:  “My manager just moved me into the Contract Closeout group.  What a bummer!  I want to be able to ‘feed the elephant,’ not clean up after it.  Anyway, who cares about closeout?  I don’t spend my free time at home sorting socks, and I certainly don’t want to that at the office!”   Fact:  Admittedly, contract closeout is not a glamor center.  Agencies and contractors regularly trumpet the awards of major contracts, but I challenge any reader to find a press release announcing the “closeout” of a group of contracts. I won’t comment about sock drawers.  But contract closeout is more important than one might think. Here’s what timely contract closeout can mean: To the agency funding authority, closeout frees up money.  It allows … Continue reading

Fred’s FAR Fact or Fiction: “I’m sure the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is useful for contracting officers when they need information. But why should I, as a contractor, care about it?”

Fiction/Myth:  “I’m sure the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is useful for contracting officers when they need information.  But why should I, as a contractor, care about it?” Fact: True, the FPDS is helpful to the government policy makers and the government’s contracting team.  As FAR 4.602(a) notes, the contract data reported to the FPDS gives agencies a basis for reports to the President, Congress, GAO, and the public, as well as the means to measure the extent to which businesses in certain socio-economic categories (small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone, etc.) are receiving federal contracts and the effect of Federal contracting on policy and management initiatives (such as for promoting sustainable technologies and products). But is that all the FPDS can do? With a few … Continue reading

Fred’s FAR Fact or Fiction: The Gift Rule

Fiction:  “I don’t have to worry about gift rules.  The ‘Standards of Conduct’ (5 C.F.R. 2635), and FAR 3.101 don’t address contractors – they only apply to government employees.  So I’ll let them worry about it.  Anyway, who will know?  And when there’s a violation, the prosecutors only go after the government employee.” Fact:  This is a dangerous misconception.  Acting on it may lead directly to the unemployment lines, or worse. First, contractors are subject to criminal penalties, including jail time, if they violate the federal bribery/gratuities statute.  Under 18 U.S.C. 201, anyone who “gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any public official” with intent to “influence any official act” or to “induce” an action or omission [bribe] or “for or because of … Continue reading

Fred’s FAR Fact or Fiction: Everything has to be by the book

Fiction: “I always thought that our country was built on experimentation and enterprise: Unless something is prohibited by law, you can do it!  But our government contracting system doesn’t seem to operate that way.  Everything has to be ‘by the book.’  Unless the FAR specifically spells it out, no one is willing to try a sensible business approach.” Fact: It’s understandable why you feel that way.  In a rule-based environment, it can be so difficult learning the rules and regulations that apply that one doesn’t have time to “think outside the box.”  And by the way, that can be true in the private sector as well – remember the old saying, “no one ever got fired for buying from IBM”?  [Personal note: That slogan still … Continue reading

Fred’s FAR Fact or Fiction: Negotiation with the Government is a Zero-Sum Game

**We are giving our readers the opportunity to vote on what this series should be called. If you want to chime in please use the poll below. Thank you!** Fiction/Fallacy: “Negotiation with the Government is a zero-sum game.  My contracting officer’s job is to keep the Government’s costs down, no matter what.  He/she doesn’t care whether I go bankrupt in the process.” Fact: Unfortunately, whether due to inexperience, improper training, or budget pressures, these situations have occurred. But it’s not in a contracting officer’s “job description.” True, the FAR repeatedly admonishes the contracting officer to do what is in the best interests of the United States.  But the FAR doesn’t tell the contracting officer to be a one-sided advocate whose only goal is to win, … Continue reading