USG Seeks Jerusalem Hotel Room Services For Estimated 2,704 Room Nights For a Year

Posted: 3:06 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’]

 

On July 20, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a solicitation for Jerusalem Hotel Room Services.

The Embassy intends to conduct a pre-proposal conference, and all prospective offerors are invited to attend. The pre-proposal conference will take place at 10:00 AM local Israel time, on August 1, 2017, at the US Embassy Annex Facility located at 11 Galgalai Haplada St., Entrance B, 3rd floor, Herzelia Pituach, Israel.

The requirement is for the providing of lodging rooms for Official US Government visits to the City of Jerusalem.  The estimated number of hotel rooms for one year is 1,202 rooms and 2,704 room nights.  The anticipated performance is for a base period of twelve months and two one -year periods at the option of the Government.

The scope of services requires the contractor to provide a minimum of 40 (forty) and a maximum of 6,500 (six thousand five hudred) single hotel rooms in Jerusalem. According to FedBiz, the contract type will be indefinite quantity.

#

#

Advertisements

Diplomatic Security to Seek Contractor for Development of Pre-Employment Physical Fitness Assessment

— Domani Spero
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

On September 29, the State Department issued a “Sources Sought Notice” via fed biz.gov  to “identify parties having an interest in and the resources to support a requirement developing and validating a pre-employment physical fitness assessment for Special Agent (SA) candidate selection.” The announcement says that there is no incumbent contract:

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Contracts and Procurement Division is issuing this Sources Sought Notice as a means of conducting market research to identify parties having an interest in and the resources to support a requirement developing and validating a pre-employment physical fitness assessment for Special Agent (SA) candidate selection. This includes, but is not limited to: identifying the physical requirements for successful completion of the course and all required training associated with assignments directed by DS; measuring the relevant physical abilities required upon entry into the SA position; and, compliance with the Title 5, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures,” the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The results of this market research will contribute to determining the method of procurement and assist DOS in developing and further defining procurement, acquisition, and development strategies.

Below from the Draft SOW posted online:

The contractor shall conduct a comprehensive analysis of DS’ entry-level training for GS-1811 and FS-2501 skill codes, known as the Basic Special Agent Course (BSAC), with a primary emphasis on identifying the physical requirements for successful completion of the course and all required training associated with assignments directed by DS. Additionally, the contractor shall develop and validate a pre-employment physical fitness assessment for Special Agent (SA) candidate selection. The assessment shall accurately and objectively measure the relevant physical abilities required upon entry into the SA position. The development and validation procedures shall comply with the Title 5, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures,” the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Due consideration shall be given to professional guidelines such as Standards for Education and Psychological Tests (published by the American Psychological Association) and the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

[…]

DS recognizes the value in selecting the right men and women to serve its law enforcement, protective security, and security management mission critical occupations. Thus, DS is committed to enhancing its selection and screening procedures for selecting applicants into these positions in order to ensure continued success of the agency’s mission to provide a secure environment for the conduct of diplomacy. As part of this commitment to our mission, DS recognizes the need to ensure that each individual selected into its law enforcement ranks is able to meet the physical training requirements and physical demands required to effectively perform the duties of the job. The implementation of a validated pre-employment physical fitness assessment should result in cost savings associated with training recruits who will meet minimum physical fitness standards. Developing a workforce of more physically fit personnel should enhance productivity, and reduce injury and illness-related work absences. The assessment will also provide maximum safety considerations for applicants and Diplomatic Security during training.

[…]

DS is seeking a professional company to assist in the development of a job-related pre-employment physical fitness assessment that will meet our goal of effectively screening applicants against validated physical fitness requirements for successful completion of the Basic Special Agent Course (BSAC) and all required training associated with assignments directed by DS. Our goal is to implement a valid assessment that will allow for the selection of highly qualified applicants while minimizing adverse impact to the greatest extent possible.

The requirement for a comprehensive pre-employment assessment has multiple deliverables; announcement says the services required of the Contractor shall be completed within 120 calendar days of the contract award date.

* * *

State Dept Seeks Organizational Shrink to Assist in Foreign Service Selection Procedures

— Domani Spero
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

On September 12, the State Department published a solicitation via FedBiz.gov seeking “a certified industrial and organizational psychologist to provide advice, assistance and support for Foreign Service selection procedures.” 

Extracted from the FedBiz documents:

The Foreign Service Act of 1980 tasks the U.S. Department of State (the Department), and the Board of Examiners (BEX) specifically, with the responsibility for the evaluation and selection of candidates for the Foreign Service. The Bureau of Human Resources, Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment, Board of Examiners (HR/REE/BEX) oversees these examinations, including the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP), Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA), and selection procedures for Foreign Service generalists, specialists and limited non-career appointments. HR/REE/BEX is seeking a certified industrial and organizational psychologist to provide necessary advice and assistance in support of the Foreign Service Selection Process.

The contractor will assist the Department in ensuring that all examinations for Foreign Service generalists, specialists and limited non career appointments have been professionally validated and constitute a reliable means of identifying those applicants who show the greatest possibility of success in the Foreign Service. The successful contractor will provide consultative and analytical services as requested including formulating program alternatives and operational support for successful implementation of any revisions to testing and hiring procedures.

 

According to the solicitation, the organizational shrink, formally known as the contractor here shall perform the following work, as assigned by the Department:

1. Assist in evaluating the extent to which the generalist, specialist and limited non-career appointment hiring programs are effective in meeting the needs of the Foreign Service.

2. Work with the contractor who develops and administers the FSOT to review test components, as directed by HR/REE/BEX, including redesign of sections where requested; review and advise HR/REE/BEX on any revisions to the FSOT prior to their inclusion in the Department’s hiring process.

3. Attend, as the Department’s expert contractor, meetings of the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service, established pursuant to Section 211 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended. At the request of HR/REE/BEX, attend meetings with the Director General that involve discussion of Foreign Service selection procedures.

4. Provide advice on the procedures and training involved in the generalist, specialist and limited non-career appointment Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP), and assess the validity of QEP results.

5. Provide advice on the content validation of the Foreign Service Oral Assessment process (FSOA) and prepare FSOA validation reports for use by the Bureau of Human Resources.

6. Work with subject matter experts to create, review and revise all Foreign Service Selection Process assessments (QEPs, interviews, cases, competency tests, etc.). Provide programming and administrative support for online competency assessments.

7. Compile, manage, and report on assessment data. Validate assessments by conducting studies to ensure compliance with legal and professional testing guidelines. Analyze assessment data for statistical quality, adverse impact, and other purposes (e.g., answering questions from management).

8. Create feedback reports for assessors and management. Conduct special studies on the assessments (e.g., passing rates, comparing equivalence, faking, etc.) as requested. To include documenting all validation evidence, analyses, and special studies in technical reports.

9. Monitor all aspects of the implementation of the assessments and make continuous improvements.

10. Provide advice on alternate methods of entry to the FSOA (other than the FSOT) and assess the validity of these programs.

11. Evaluate on a recurring basis the Department’s recruiting and testing procedures, and advise HR/REE on how best to meet its hiring objectives and ensure the validity of any changes made to the examination processes.

12. Develop an online practice FSOT that potential candidates can use to assess their chances of passing the FSOT. Provide support to HR/REE for the Department’s recruiting mobile application.

13. Provide advice on the Department’s specialist hiring program, including possible examination alternatives; to include remote testing. Review and revise specialist and limited non-career appointment vacancy announcements and questionnaires used for initial screening of applicants.

14. Provide the Department with professional expertise in litigation should there be legal challenges to the FSOT, Oral Assessment,specialist examinations, or selection processes, including through production of requested documentation and service as an expert witness.

15. Provide professional advice and consultation to other HR offices within the Department as requested by HR/REE.

16. Define the mission-critical competencies required of entry-level Foreign Service Officers. Use this information to update the 2007 Job Analysis of Foreign Service Officer Positions

17. Conduct organizational or workforce surveys. To include a survey of generalists and specialists who have participated in the Oral Assessment; Entry-level Officers; and other candidate groups as designated by BEX.

Additionally the contractor should be an expert in psychometrics, the statistical science of psychological measures that are used to comprise knowledge tests and shall be conversant with:

  • The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1978) . These guidelines were established by federal agencies in charge of enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws. Among those agencies are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, and the Department of Justice.
  • The Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures , published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 {Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241)} prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

 

The State Department expects the following deliverables:

  • Based on its observations, the Contractor shall prepare a comprehensive report on generalist and specialist hiring programs, including the FSOT, Foreign Service Oral Assessment and specialist hiring programs, in addition to test-specific reports. The contractor may be required to brief HR/REE/BEX on the findings contained in the report to the Contract Officer’s Representative (COR).
  • The Contractor shall develop and provide in person (not recorded) an up-to-date Oral Assessment training program for assessors in order to ensure consistency among those conducting the oral assessment. Training shall address at a minimum the following elements: orientation to the concept of assessment centers and their role in pre-hire screening, background on the Foreign Service Oral Assessment process, and any revisions made since the last training session.
  • The Contractor shall provide training to BEX on each of the testing exercises that make up the FSOA (see www.careers.state.gov) and shall provide detailed guidance on scoring methodologies and anchors. The contractor shall ensure that the training is consistent with professional and legal standards or guidance.
  • The Contractor shall conduct a job analysis of the five Foreign Service Officer career tracks to determine what knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics FSOs need to perform their jobs effectively. Based on this analysis, the contractor will update the current blue prints being used by the Department.
  • The contractor shall compile evidence on the validity of the FSOA, and prepare a report summarizing such evidence, including a complete analysis of the demographics of those participating in the FSOA.
  • The contractor shall develop, monitor, provide, and maintain a comprehensive training program for the panel members involved in the generalists qualifications/evaluation/assessment (QEP).
  • As necessary, assist the Department, including its legal counsel, in legal matters pertaining to the FSOT, QEP and Oral Assessment, or other selection procedures established for the Foreign Service generalists and specialists.
  • The contractor will be required to compile a library of materials created pursuant to the contract on the content validation for all FSOTs administered during the contract period. Title to the library of materials compiled by the Contractor for which the Contractor is entitled to be reimbursed under this contract shall pass to and vest in the Government.

A couple of thoughts — this organizational psychologist has the potential to impact the hiring process of the State Department. Two, we are not sure if this is one of the results of the EEOC class action, but the requirement that this contractor provide the Department “with professional expertise in litigation should there be legal challenges to the FSOT, Oral Assessment,specialist examinations, or selection processes” seems to indicate that an expected challenge/s may be in the works.

* * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Dept’s Made in the USA Glass Stemware Makes News on Shutdown Week

— By Domani Spero

In April 2010, this made the news: Not Made in the USA Glass Stemware Causes Not-So-Diplomatic Protest.  This week, the glass stemware controversy returned for another news splash.  The Cable reports that the State Dept Defends Its $5 Million Order for Hand-Crafted Glassware.

Apparently, according to The Cable, Congress is asking the State Department for specifics about a recent $5 million contract for handcrafted glasses for use in embassies around the world.

The order with a potential five-year contract covers “20 different styles of custom handcrafted stem and barware from the Vermont-based glassblowing company Simon Pearce.”  The Daily Mail says this includes 12,000 pieces of stemware for American embassies from a company that makes hand blown crystal that retails for up to $85-per-wine glass. Even the Wine Spectator covered the need for quality stemware here.

Below is an excerpt from Valley News on how this contract was “re-competed”:

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, which oversees State Department funding, was instrumental in helping Simon Pearce get the contract. Leahy wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of the bid by Simon Pearce, a news release says.

“It is wonderful to have such an exquisite example of Vermont craftsmanship on display and in use in our embassies around the world,” Leahy said in the release. “Marcelle and I have visited many of those embassies, and knowing that Simon Pearce’s products will be there is something that all Vermonters should be proud of,” Leahy said.

A State Department official, speaking on background, told The Cable that neither the order nor the timing is unusual:  “It’s not unusual for lots of contracts to be awarded by the end of the fiscal year.” 

The Cable quotes one Hill aide who was less than happy with this contract. “Seems like a poor use of funds given the current budget environment.” 

Aah! Aah! Aah!  Wanna bet that the Hill aide was not Senator Leahy’s. Okay.

Today is Day 11 of the shutdown but just a couple of weeks ago was “use it or lose it” week. In many cases, agencies must spend all their allotted funds by September 30, the end of the fiscal year.  If they don’t, they lose the money, or Congress could cut short their future funding.  So agencies are certainly incentivized to spend.  Jeffrey B. Liebman and Neale Mahoney who did a 2010 paper on Do Expiring Budgets Lead to Wasteful Year-End Spending? noted that “spending spikes in all major federal agencies during the 52nd week of the year as the agencies rush to exhaust expiring budget authority.”

Apparently, some contractors even make 25% of their annual business on that 52nd week alone.  The last week of September — AKA: the end-of-year spending binge, the Flush, or just Christmas in September.

If you think State is the only one doing this, get ready for a booo!

WaPo details some of the end of year binges in late September:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.
  • The Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges.
  • The Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “Cubicle Furniture Rehab.”

According to Feds here, government offices in their equivalent of shop till you drop week, bought three years worth of staples. What the what?  One office purchased 10 portable generators “that just sit there.” One department reportedly bought some flat screen TVs “which are not used, just big shiny black wall decorations.”

One from the National Guard said, “We had to go to the range every year to expend all of our remaining ammunition. It was fun for a while, but we were firing so much that it became tedious. When you get BORED from shooting MACHINE GUNS, there is a problem.”

The Washington Times reported that in the waning months of the 2012 fiscal year, the Navy paid $51,000 for clarinets and $21,000 for an organ. The Army spent $40,000 on violins. And the Army National Guard reportedly bought $18,000 worth of coffee mugs for recruitment.

This year, we saw some more interesting purchases in kind and volume during the last week of September.  The U.S. Navy spent $135,330.67 for book and overhead scanners. The U.S. Army spent $16,597.46 for kettlebells. The Department of Veterans Affairs spent $48,953.58 on trash cans. The Department of Homeland Security used $213,879.72 to leased copiers.

And oh, the U.S. Army spent $4,152,000.00 to purchase GUNS, OVER 30MM UP TO 75MM.

Perhaps the more interesting purchases are $50,937.3 for an E-1 Between US Embassy, Paris, France and Elysee Palace, Paris, France by the Defense Information Systems Agency and $409,305.47 for a Catholic Priest by the Department of the Army, a firm-fixed-priced contract with a base period of one year beginning 1 October 2013 plus four one-year option periods.

Surprised? Me, too.

Anyway, it has been suggested even by the Feds that agencies be allowed to roll over their funds for next year’s funding. But the Liebman-Mahoney paper suggests that “even with rollover authority, there remain incentives for agencies to use up their full allocation of funding. Large balances carried over from one period to another are likely to be interpreted by OMB and Congressional appropriators as a signal that budget resources are excessive and lead to reduced budgets in subsequent periods.”

Given that Continuing Resolutions have now become the norm rather than the exception,  the propensity to hoard funds or to shop till you drop when funds are available is not going to get any better.  The solution might be to regularized funding and not to penalized agencies when they are unable to spend all their allocated funds.

But what do we know.  That’s the way it’s been for a long time now.  And since Congress is busy with some CC or Continuing Craziness of their own making, we are not hopeful that they will find a solution that works soon. For now, the Hill aide can continue being “less than enthused” because obviously there’s no fault in the Congress’ stars.

($_$)

State Dept Seeks Drug/Steroid Testing of Security Personnel in Afghanistan and Jerusalem

The State Department is looking for a contractor to provide drug and steroid screening of all Diplomatic Security employees in Afghanistan and Jerusalem. The announcement was posted on FedBiz on Apr 29, 2013  per Solicitation Number: RFI(04292013):

Via FedBiz

The Department of State (DoS) Office of Diplomatic Security (DS) is concerned with the well-being of its employees, the successful accomplishment of agency missions, and the need to maintain employee productivity. Many of the DS-hired U.S. Citizen (USC) and Third Country National (TCN) direct hire and/or contract positions in Afghanistan and Jerusalem involve the use of weapons and access to highly sensitive information that must not be compromised. It is critically important that such armed employees, or those employees exposed to extreme conditions, be reliable, stable, and show good use of judgment. Illegal drug and steroid use creates the possibility of coercion, influence, and irresponsible action under pressure, all of which may pose a serious risk to national defense, public safety, and security. Prior to deployment, all employees certify that drug testing and steroid screening is a nonnegotiable condition of employment.

This performance work statement defines the drug and steroid testing requirements (hereinafter referred to as “Substance Screening”) applicable to DS-hired USC and TCN direct hires and/or contract positions in Afghanistan and Jerusalem. In this document, DS will be referred to as the DS who will receive support from the Contractor. Employee will be the all-encompassing term for DS direct hires, personal services contractors, or third party contractors.

Below is part of the Scope of Work posted with the solicitation:

The Contractor shall be licensed to operate through the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and Government of Israel, and shall be in full compliance with host country business requirements. The Contractor will be self-sufficient and required to provide all life support, travel and security needs for staff. In addition, the Contractor shall support all shipping, maintenance, and housing of equipment necessary to perform services. The Contractor will provide all resources to perform random and non-random Substance Screening, preferably at the following locations, with the corresponding number of estimated employees:

• Kabul: 1300
• Mazar e-Sharif: 150
• Herat: 175
• Jerusalem: 55

Random screening will be on a semiannual basis (every six months) as well as non-random substance testing. All random and non-random substance testing performed shall comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/summary/i

[…]

The Contractor shall be prepared to test for the following drugs utilizing a rapid urine test in Afghanistan and/or Israel, except for Steroid:

  • Amphetamine
  • Opiate
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Barbituates
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Steroid: Refer to the following commonly abused steroids on the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NISA) website or at Steroidabuse.gov.

Security contractors in Afghanistan, particularly those in Kabul  have a um… colorful history (see POGO writes to Secretary Clinton about US Embassy Kabul Guards) so it’s only surprising that it took this long.  But it is  curious about Jerusalem though, isn’t it? Anyone knows what prompted this?

Update:  We understand from a blog pal that this may not be anything new as apparently drug screening is routinely done for “high threat protection” contractors.  Jerusalem has protection contractors that predates both Iraq and Afghanistan as it covers all official travel to Gaza and the West Bank.  But according to a Q&A posted online on FedBiz, these drug tests have not been performed in Israel in the past.

 

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanted: US Contractor for Embassy Baghdad Maintenance Services

The State Department recently issued a presolicitation for a contractor to provide Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for the Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC) in Iraq. The services required include but are not limited to:

Ø Electrical Generation and Distribution;
Ø Heating Air Conditioning and Ventilation (HVAC);
Ø Water Supply, Purification and Distribution;
Ø Fire Alarm and Suppression System;
Ø Complete Sanitary Sewer and Waste Water Treatment Plant;
Ø Elevator Maintenance;
Ø Fuel Storage and Distribution for generators and gas/diesel station;
Ø Refuse and HAZMAT removal;
Ø Grounds maintenance;
Ø Facilities maintenance;
Ø Swimming pool maintenance;
Ø Structural inspections and repairs.

The Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC) is located in the heart of Baghdad, IRAQ adjacent to the Tigris River, within the International Zone (formerly known as the Green Zone). It consists of 38 buildings, one service station and 16 guard towers on approximately 104 acres with three primary sites as follows:  1) BEC,  2) Diplomatic Security Man Camp (Camp Condor), and 3) East End.

Related to this, the department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs is  also conducting a Pre-Award Site Survey at the US Embassy Compound in Baghdad, Iraq. The notice posted at FedBiz says that contractors who are considering the submission of a proposal as the Prime Contractor for the Operations and Maintenance Support Services contract are strongly encouraged to make plans to attend this three day event as space is limited and the time required to apply for and receive a visa from the Government of Iraq may be extensive.

The notice also says:

The purpose of this visit is to provide specific information to interested companies on the work and living environment, the program scope and schedule, and the specific facilities, grounds, utilities and equipment requiring operations, upkeep, maintenance and repair.

Participation in the Site Survey is not a mandatory requirement for submission of a proposal or to be considered a qualified company in the evaluation of a proposal. However, this level of information sharing by DOS cannot be replicated in any other form.

Due to the requirement that a company either possess a Top Secret Facility Clearance or be able to obtain a Top Secret Facility Clearance, a Prime Contractor can only be a company based in the United States.

In an impromptu press briefing reported by The Cable last week, Deputy Secretary Tom Nides was quoted saying, “Contrary to some of the news reports, we are not reducing our operations by 50 percent… To be honest with you, I don’t know where the 50 percent number came from.” Apparently, the more “normalized” operation is focused on “switching from contractors to local hires and sourcing embassy goods from the local marketplace.”

But the embassy’s operation and maintenance services does not look like part of what they’re calling “normalized” operations; the presolicitation above excludes non-US based companies and requires the contractor to have a Top Secret Facility clearance.

In what might be a test of mettle for prospective American contractors, the State Department provides the following logistics information to assist potential contractors in planning their trip to Iraq for this site survey:

  • Air Transportation – Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) is the airport within Baghdad, Iraq, and is serviced by numerous international airlines. Attendees are expected to make their own arrangements to arrive and depart from Baghdad.
  • Housing – Attendees should make reservations to stay at the Parks Edge Inn, within the International Zone in Baghdad.
  • Ground Transportation –. Attendees are responsible for arrangement and transportation from BIAP to lodging destination and back; and from lodging site to U.S. Embassy and back. U.S. Embassy staff will meet attendees at the main gate of US Embassy Compound each morning.
  • Meals – Attendees will be allowed to take lunch and dinner at the Dining Facility (DFAC) at the Embassy Compound on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The lunches may be working lunches. Dinner starts at 5:00 pm. Please allow time for dinner before departure pick up.
  • Status – Attendees will be visitors to the Embassy Compound and require escorting at all times.
  • Schedule – The specific schedule of events will be provided to authorized attendees directly at a later date. Once daily time and schedule are released, attendees should begin planning to secure transportation accordingly that assure timely arrival and departure.

At least, potential contractors on this site visit are allowed lunch and dinner at the dining facility at the US Embassy compound. It would be interesting to see if Tony Stark of Stark Industries will show up at the main gate.

Domani Spero