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APPENDIX G PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING SHIP SERVICES THROUGH CHARTER The procedure that the committee recommends to NOAA for obtaining ship services under charter is outlined as a generic process in this section. Each application of the procedure will entail a detailed analysis of the specific situation to which chartering o'r contracting is to be applied. The procedure proposed assumes that NOAA has reached a policy decision that chartering or contracting should be actively examined as an alternative to NOAA-owned and -operated vessels and that budgetary provisions have been made to fund the charter should favor- able terms be proposed. In all cases, guidelines discussed in Chapter 5 to ensure good product, price, and service should be adhered to. Identify Mission Area and Type of Charter The first step is to identify a mission area in which chartering or contracting may be employed by NOAA. A central issue is for NOAA to define clearly its needs and expectations, which then can be incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and later in contract documents should chartering or contracting be the preferred choice of operation. This rationale must be persuasive. Criteria for identification of a mission or project optimal for chartering has been discussed in the previous chapters and particularly in Chapter 5. Evaluation of an optimal mission area for charter potential must take into account factors such as the type of charter arrangement desired (bare boat, time charter, or turnkey), the expertise and financial soundness of the contractor, regional vessel availability, and length of the charter (short-term versus long-term), The committee considered these criteria in identifying bathymetry surveys and fishery surveys as areas conducive to long-term chartering. Prepare NOAA Plan to Accommodate Charter or Contract The second step is to prepare a budget plan for accommodating a charter or contract operation as a means to fulfill a part of NOAA's 97
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98 operational plan. If this charter is to replace existing NOAA vessel capability, it will require an operational and cost analysis of NOAA vessel deactivation, personnel assignments, and administrative arrangements necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the charter or contract operation. A charter to supplement the existing fleet will require operational and cost analysis of the capability desired. Analysis and Justification Before issuing an RFP, NOAA must prepare a list of potential char- tering organizations and an estimate of the probable cost of the charter or contract to be described in the RFP. This information, compiled with the rationale for requesting proposals in a particular mission area, will form the basis of documentation necessary to justify the required budget and the provision of funds either internal to NOAA or the Department of Commerce, or from Congress. Extensive conversations will be required with other agencies or industries having experience with chartering or contracting to prepare a useful analysis of cost and assessment of vessel availability. In addition, conversations must be held with potential suppliers of charter or contract services to determine their interest and capa- bility, and probable ranges of cost. A file on available charter ships and contacts should be developed and maintained. NOAA also must consider ways in which the RFP can be prepared to enlist the lowest price while at the same time obtaining full satisfaction from the charter or deliverable. Preparation of the RFP An RFP must be prepared by the program managers in close cooperation with the NOAA scientific personnel who are the users of the mission dat**to ensure that the deliverable will meet the mission objectives. The involvement and oversight of the scientific personnel in the contracting procedures are critical to the acquisition of high-quality data. A scientific group should be in charge of defining the technical specifications and operational procedures for * The NOAA Directives Manual states that the Office of Marine Operations (OMO) is the NOM office responsible for coordinating charter vessel leases. All requests for charter vessels must be reviewed and cleared by OMO. ** Responsibility for initiation and processing of the procurement request remains with the program manager, according to NOM Directives Manual. Specific vessel chartering procedures are clearly outlined in this Manual.
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99 all central procurement and contracting negotiations. The RFP should carefully specify the mission to be accomplished and the standards and tolerances to which the work is to be performed. -It is also essential to include the factors discussed in Chapter 4 under "Contract Specifi- cations and Procedures." The importance of this step cannot be over- emphasized. Prequalification of bidders should be considered to ensure that only highly capable respondents will be among the finalists. Issuance of the RFP The government, through the Federal Register and other means, provides channels for the dissemination of the RFP to the public. It will be in NOAA's best interest to alert all known capable bidders as to when and where the RFP will appear. To ensure that only financially responsible or technically capable organizations will be permitted to respond to the RFP, a two-step process may be used to advantage. The first step consists of a request for data to support technical and financial qualifications. The second step includes briefings for qualified contractors so that each will have full opportunity to clarify and understand the scope of service to be performed. Review of Proposals A plan to review and analyze proposals must be in place to ensure that each response is carefully and fairly evaluated. Where technical competence is involved it will be important to have in place a technical review process that will incorporate the views of NOAA scientific personnel responsible for the mission's objectives and timeliness of the deliverables. The review will be rigorous enough to be fully defensible if the award is challenged in court. Comparisons of cost must ensure that the government and commercial accounting systems view specifications and costs in the same way, and that the true cost to the government, including tax consequences, be considered. The low bid should not be the decisive criterion for selecting a charter or contract service. Technical competence and financial soundness of the contractor must also be given weight. Award and Contract Documents Once a charterer or contractor is selected, great pains should be taken to ensure that the contract documents are clear and that the expectations of NOAA and the contractor are fully understood. Here, too, technical personnel should be involved at each step. The importance of the final negotiating process cannot be overemphasized.
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100 Contract Management NOAA must be prepared, through adequate staff and budget, to manage the contract and to ensure that a quality service or deliverable is being provided. Particular attention must be given to quality assurance procedures and field documentation of operations. Receipt of Deliverables In some charters and contracts the deliverables will be provided on a continuous basis. In other cases, at or near the end of the contract, major items will be delivered at one time. It will be important that NOAA be prepared to receive and evaluate these deliverables and to transmit the results on to end users and archives Determine Cost Savings As part of contract monitoring, NOAA must be prepared to document the cost of contract performance so that future chartering and contracting budget estimates can be prepared with greater accuracy, using knowledge gained through experience. With satisfactory results obtained through chartering and contracting, NOAA will evolve procedures by which additional mission areas can be accomplished, where appropriate, through the use of contractor services. . ..