|Once you decide to contract out training work, you have some options
from which to choose, depending on the type of requirement (off-the-shelf
or new work), projected cost, and other factors such as procurement lead
time. There are some simple and quick ways to purchase training. Some
agencies have the capability of purchasing off-the-shelf training
electronically; others use the SF 182 or agency equivalent. When you need
to develop new training materials or programs, or when the cost exceeds
dollar thresholds established for your agency, you must go the procurement
route. Either use an existing contract vehicle or get your own. In either
case, work closely with your contracting officials.
Using Existing Contract Vehicles
Often referred to as multiple award contracts, these are contracts already in place that you may use to get the services or deliverables you need. In some cases, the contract was designed to meet diverse needs (such as the contracts awarded by the Office of Personnel Management under its Training Management Assistance Program). In other cases, an existing contract is modified to accommodate your requirements. In some cases, the "owner" of the contract will charge an administrative fee for allowing you to use it. Using someone else's contract can shorten your procurement lead time.
How Long Will Contracting Out Take?
Outsourcing or contracting out can be a lengthy process. Some of the timing you can control, but the actual time it takes for a request to be processed by your contracting activity is not in your control. Keep in mind that the procurement administration lead time does not include the time it will take you to do those steps needed before your request enters the procurement process. Such steps might include developing statements of work, detailed costs estimates, and evaluation plans.
The following table is from one of the most active and efficient procurement organizations in the country; check with your own procurement office to find out what your time frames are.
|Procurement Action||Lead Times|
|1. Simplified acquisition/small purchase
$2,500 - $25K (competitive)
$2,500 - $25K (noncompetitive)
$25K - $100K
|2. FSS/GSA Delivery Order||25 days|
|3. Other Delivery Order
Firm fixed price
Other than firm fixed price
|4. Exercise of options (most options are required to be exercised 30 days prior to contract expiration, with notice of intent to exercise the option required 60 days prior to contract expiration)||75 days (or 90 days prior to contract expiration)|
|5. Large purchase under $1 million
$50 - $100K (competitive/noncompetitive)
$100K - $1M (competitive/noncompetitive)
|6. Large purchase over $1 million (competitive)
Technical evaluation (if required) promptly performed at contracting activity
Technical evaluation (best value)
|7. Large purchase over $1 million (noncompetitive)
$1 - $10 M
Over $10 M
|Getting Your Own Contract Vehicle
When you need to get your own contract vehicle in place, there are a few steps that will require your full attention. In addition to the funding, there are two things you must put together before the procurement process can be started. One is the statement of work (SOW); the other is the independent cost estimate. The SOW is a key part of the solicitation package, and the contracting officer needs the cost estimate to evaluate contractor cost proposals and determine competitive ranges.
Preparing a Statement of Work
The SOW is the single most important element of a procurement. A poorly written SOW could mean failure of the project; receipt of substandard services, equipment, materials, or supplies; delays and administrative costs; and disputes between the government and the contractor.
The SOW describes the work to be performed or the services to be rendered, defines the respective responsibilities of the government and the contractor, and provides an objective measure by which both the government and the contractor will know when the work is complete and payment is justified. As a description of the specific requirements to be met by the successful offeror, the SOW is an extremely important document during proposal preparation, proposal evaluation, contractor selection, and contract administration.
Some SOWs are easier to prepare than others. For example, SOWs for off-the- shelf training programs may not be too difficult to prepare, because specifications and state-of-the-art capabilities are known quantities and can be defined easily. SOWs for the development of training in support of a new system, on the other hand, may be more difficult to define. Planning for all the requirements and contingencies may be difficult, but care must be taken to ensure that all requirements are included.
SOW formats can differ. Your contracting office should give you a sample of the format it likes to use. Regardless of the format, you need to make sure that the SOW spells out all of your requirements. It should be as specific as possible. Keep in mind that the SOW identifies and specifies what you expect as an end product. It influences greatly which contractors will be interested in bidding and which will get the award. If you are vague in your statement of work, you will end up with deliverables that most probably will not meet your requirements (and you will, at that point, have little recourse, except for trying to convince the contracting officer to negotiate a modification to the contract — a process that usually translates into a considerable increase in costs).
Contract types are grouped into two broad categories: fixed price and cost reimbursement. They range from firm fixed price, in which the contractor assumes full responsibility for performance costs and resulting profit or loss, to cost plus fixed fee, in which the contractor has minimal responsibility for the performance costs, and the negotiated fee is fixed. In between these extremes are various incentive contracts tailored to the uncertainties involved in contract performance. The type of contract you end up with depends a great deal on how well you can explain your requirements or, in other words, how good a job you did in preparing your statement of work. Keep in mind that the less fixed the price, the more difficult the contract is to manage.
|*This information on training procurement was authored by David Amaral. It is drawn from professional training courses for civilian HRD personnel in the Department of the Navy.|
|Appendix F Appendix H Table of Contents||