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Edited: 2/2/2021 6:52 AM
Picture: ADAM STROUP
ADAM STROUP
End PBA, the use of a PWS and a Switch to Relational Contracting?
An insightful article by Nash published February 2021 on Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters website [requires a subscription] details the trials and tribulations of using a performance work statement for services acquisition.  The title of the article is "11. PERFORMANCE WORK STATEMENTS: The Policymakers' Monster—Where Is Our Theseus?" and as this title suggests, historically the definitions of a PWS, what constitutes a service and a result of a service, and even what does measurable imply is tracked historically from today back to US Air Force regulations a few decades ago.  Are these terms archaic?  On ACQuipedia you will find a performance work statement (PWS) defined as a statement of work for performance-based acquisitions (PBAs) that describes the required results in clear, specific and objective terms with measurable outcomes.  We need to tell the offerors what those measurable outcomes are and those are standards, possibly accompanied by Acceptable Quality Levels (AQLs) which are deviations to those standards that the Government can tolerate.  But who hasn't seen contracts with task statements to the contractor that lack AQLs let alone standards? [for more info on Standards and AQLs, see Sample Performance Standards on SAM]  Nash highlights a few glaring examples. For a knowledge based service, it's very difficult for a task where we ask for a contractor's analysis to then apply a standard to get at how good an analysis was done.  I rely on insight into the contractor's staffing and management and even their Quality Controls before selecting them to (hopefully) get that good analysis. (This will be a key feature in Relational Contracting--see below) Now, that analysis ought to be in a document and there I can apply standards and AQLs to a written document such as free of errors (Standard) with less than 1 error per 100 words (AQL).  Sometimes we do have a standard for an analysis task and let me compare that to the peer review process before your solicitation leaves your office. [Do you get good comments back?  If not, you need better reviewers!]  We could implement peer review as a standard.  Something like the Government will review [all, random sample] analyses and any faults found will be corrected by the contractor at no cost to the Goverment.  The problem is I don't have reviewers standing by nor do I have a definition of a fault that's likely to survive first contact with corporate legal.  

The summary of Nash's article proposes we (Government) do away with the PWS and performance based acquisitions.  Nash has been of this opinion (with good reasoning) for over a decade now (see: A Proposal for a New Approach to Performance‐Based Services Acquisition, Def. Acquisition Rev. J. 353 (Sept. 2007).  In the 2007 article, the authors state "the main reason that PBSA has not been more successful is that it is not a practical approach to buying long-term and complex services." The why behind that statement is that it's "... unrealistic to ask agencies to specify services at the time of contract award in clear, specific, objective, and measurable terms when future needs are not fully known or understood, requirements and priorities are expected to change during performance, and the circumstances and conditions of performance are not reliably foreseeable." The authors propose Relational Contracting or Relational PBSA and outline key features and conditions for use. It is worth a read of the ARJ article and perhaps a discussion here! 
Picture: ADAM STROUP
  • ADAM STROUP
http://myad.dau.mil:80/User%20Photos/Profile%20Pictures/astroup_MThumb.jpg?t=63628988073" alt="Picture: ADAM STROUP" />
ADAM STROUP
An insightful article by Nash published February 2021 on Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters website [requires a subscription] details the trials and tribulations of using a performance work statement for services acquisition.  The title of the article is "11. PERFORMANCE WORK STATEMENTS: The Policymakers' Monster—Where Is Our Theseus?" and as this title suggests, historically the definitions of a PWS, what constitutes a service and a result of a service, and even what does measurable imply is tracked historically from today back to US Air Force regulations a few decades ago.  Are these terms archaic?  On ACQuipedia you will find a performance work statement (PWS) defined as a statement of work for performance-based acquisitions (PBAs) that describes the required results in clear, specific and objective terms with measurable outcomes.  We need to tell the offerors what those measurable outcomes are and those are standards, possibly accompanied by Acceptable Quality Levels (AQLs) which are deviations to those standards that the Government can tolerate.  But who hasn't seen contracts with task statements to the contractor that lack AQLs let alone standards? [for more info on Standards and AQLs, see Sample Performance Standards on SAM]  Nash highlights a few glaring examples. For a knowledge based service, it's very difficult for a task where we ask for a contractor's analysis to then apply a standard to get at how good an analysis was done.  I rely on insight into the contractor's staffing and management and even their Quality Controls before selecting them to (hopefully) get that good analysis. (This will be a key feature in Relational Contracting--see below) Now, that analysis ought to be in a document and there I can apply standards and AQLs to a written document such as free of errors (Standard) with less than 1 error per 100 words (AQL).  Sometimes we do have a standard for an analysis task and let me compare that to the peer review process before your solicitation leaves your office. [Do you get good comments back?  If not, you need better reviewers!]  We could implement peer review as a standard.  Something like the Government will review [all, random sample] analyses and any faults found will be corrected by the contractor at no cost to the Goverment.  The problem is I don't have reviewers standing by nor do I have a definition of a fault that's likely to survive first contact with corporate legal.  

The summary of Nash's article proposes we (Government) do away with the PWS and performance based acquisitions.  Nash has been of this opinion (with good reasoning) for over a decade now (see: A Proposal for a New Approach to Performance‐Based Services Acquisition, Def. Acquisition Rev. J. 353 (Sept. 2007).  In the 2007 article, the authors state "the main reason that PBSA has not been more successful is that it is not a practical approach to buying long-term and complex services." The why behind that statement is that it's "... unrealistic to ask agencies to specify services at the time of contract award in clear, specific, objective, and measurable terms when future needs are not fully known or understood, requirements and priorities are expected to change during performance, and the circumstances and conditions of performance are not reliably foreseeable." The authors propose Relational Contracting or Relational PBSA and outline key features and conditions for use. It is worth a read of the ARJ article and perhaps a discussion here! 
12/1/2021 10:15 AM2/2/2021 6:52 AMNoAsk the Community
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32
ADAM STROUP
RICHARD FOWLER
Posted: 2/2/2021 4:24 PM
Picture: RICHARD FOWLER
RICHARD FOWLER

While I enjoyed reading this article I think we need to move slowly in replacing PBAs and PWS. As Adam says, maybe a good discussion first.

Picture: RICHARD FOWLER
  • RICHARD FOWLER
https://my.dev.dau.mil:443/User%20Photos/Profile%20Pictures/DAU0804500109_MThumb.jpg" alt="Picture: RICHARD FOWLER" />
RICHARD FOWLER

While I enjoyed reading this article I think we need to move slowly in replacing PBAs and PWS. As Adam says, maybe a good discussion first.

ADAM STROUP5702/2/2021 4:24 PM2/2/2021 4:24 PM
2/2/2021 4:18 PM1
ADAM STROUP

 

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