Just thrown over the transom — an amendment to the RFQ

The confidential tip page continues to bear fruit. I just received a copy of Amendment No. 2 to the RFQ. It is the amendment that answers questions by potential bidders. This amendment addresses the concern — first suggested here — that “alternative service delivery model” meant replacement of sea year. The answer to that question is on page 11 of the amendment:

“This reference was inadvertently included in the solicitation [and] is hereby deleted under this solicitation amendment.”

Yeah, I can see how you could make such a mistake.  Just the other day I was texting a friend and tried to type, “don’t you think MARAD should at least have data to support the stand down cancellation of sea year and a plan to replace it?”;  but, autocorrect changed it to “don’t you think MARAD should be ‘documenting and outlining a plan for an alternative service delivery model at the Department’?”

And take a look at the question that is asked on page 5 (Question 12.b), where a bidder found yet another instance of the government (DOT this time) falsely claiming that the MSCHE thought there was a problem with SA/SH during sea year. The bidder pointed it out and sensibly asked (in essence), “Am I supposed to do the work based upon what the MSCHE actually says? Or am I supposed to do the work based upon what you say the MSCHE says, even though we all know that’s not true?” Care to guess how DOT answered that one? (The answer is below the block quotes below.)

There are actually two misquotes in the RFQ:

Misquote No. 1 (from page 4 of the RFQ):
In June 2016, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) placed USMMA on warning that its accreditation as an institution of higher learning was at risk. MSCHE directed USMMA to take steps “to build a climate of mutual respect and trust on campus and during the Sea year.”
Actual Quote in the MSCHE AccreditationReport (pp. 20-21):
“The pervasiveness of sexual harassment on campus must be addressed as a pressing and substantial concern that has fostered a hostile environment for many cohorts of midshipmen. The institution must implement specific steps to build a climate of mutual respect and trust among midshipmen, faculty, and staff with respect to sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
Misquote No. 2 (from page 4 of  the RFQ):
To be in compliance with accreditation standards, USMMA must also “improve the safety and climate of respect that all midshipmen encounter during the sea year experience.
Actual Quote in the MSCHE Accreditation Report (p.20):
To improve the safety and climate of respect that all midshipmen encounter during the Sea Year experience, the institution must take demonstrable steps in preparation for and upon return from the Sea Year experience. (Emphasis added.)

The RFQ is seeking an analysis. But, it’s asking for an analysis of something that doesn’t exist. It’s almost as if someone has a hidden agenda.

Repeating a false claim does not make it true — my $100,000 bet is still safe. But I like the fact that a bidder caught it and said, “you misquote[d] the MSCHE” and then gave the actual quote. I guess DOT doesn’t share my enthusiasm for accuracy, because the response is, “The Offeror’s concern is noted.” So the bidders still don’t know whether they are supposed to analyze the finding by MSCHE or the finding that doesn’t exist.  I wish I was bidding — I’d like to get paid to analyze nothing. But the poor bidder who asked the question?  I’ll bet it gets dinged for pointing out the inconvenient truth when the bids are evaluated — if they are evaluated.

Because of the amendment, the deadline for submitting bids was changed from from 11:00 a.m. today until  midnight tonight. So eleven pages of questions and answers (20 questions with multiple subparts) are included in this amendment, and yet the deadline for responding is changed by 13 hours. Is that what good government does to ensure that the taxpayers get the best bang for their bucks?

1 Comment

  1. The reason why the extended bid submission is so short is to allow contract award and contract start before the end of the fiscal year. Otherwise MARAD would have to start the whole process over again after October 1 in the new fiscal year provided Congress passes at least a continuing resolution.

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