BuyTrain News

December 2009

  ISM News
Personal Development
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Who Are You?

Do you really trust the copier machine repair people that you let run around your office?

My guess is that you regularly issue contracts (and I also mean purchase orders) that authorize seller employees to have access to your facilities. In addition to workers,  you might also have delivery persons in the office or personnel checking stock in the tool crib. Whatever the reason, when we reach an agreement with a seller that includes access to Buyer facilities, proprietary data, valuable property and personnel, we expect the seller to send only bona-fide employees. We presume sellers have verified their employees’ identities, confirmed they are legally employable, confirmed they are not abusing illegal substances, have no violent criminal record, will not sexually harass our personnel and are CPSMs [o.k. maybe that’s a little extreme]. But you get my point.

Our tacit assumption that seller's personnel are legitimate and don’t pose a risk to our company raises serious questions:

  1. Is this a risk we should be concerned about? Ask your insurance company and I’ll bet you get a loud “YES”
  2. Do our contracts require sellers to validate the people they send to our office?  Language like this:
    • Seller shall ensure that all seller personnel performing work on buyers premises or in buyer- controlled facilities will perform the assigned tasks safely and professionally, are not abusing illegal substances and are legal full-time employees of the seller.
  3. Do we have a contractual right to refuse entry, reject and require replacement of a seller’s person?
    • Buyer reserves the right to refuse entry or eject any of seller’s personnel from buyer controlled premises when in the opinion of Buyer they represent a hazard or concern. If seller is unable to provide an acceptable replacement, seller may be considered in material violation of this agreement.
  4. Do you ever check to be sure sellers are checking the background of their personnel?

It seems like legitimate businesses would go a long way towards making sure they only employ personnel who will properly represent their business. With 10% unemployment, it’s hard to imagine otherwise. In fact, the U.S. Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 (ICRA) – over 20 years ago – requires as a minimum that employers verify the eligibility of applicants for employment. Among other things, the ICRA requires employers verify applicant data using an I-9 form.

Surprisingly, a recent Department of Energy Inspector General report found that some subcontractors working at the DOE Savannah River site, were not in compliance with the ICRA. Based on this report, I’d guess non-compliance with ICRA is widespread. It’s worrisome because ICRA compliance is only a small part of employee verification. It doesn’t cover additional employment concerns such as criminal background, substance abuse, adequate training, safe work history, authentic credentials, etc.

Read the IG report:

Over the last year, Federal agencies and contractors have also started using an automated system to verify candidate’s eligibility for employment. The E-Verify system is now becoming mandatory for government contractors and also their lower-tier contractors. Even though the E-Verify system does not address many of our concerns about seller's personnel, it is a start. Using the E-Verify system is free, relatively easy and makes good sense for all companies. After all, compliance with ICRA is already Federal Law, so why not go to the next step and use an automated tool to help ensure compliance.

Even if you don’t require the use of E-Verify, at the very least I suggest you review language in your standard contract terms to make sure they require adequate assurance about seller’s personnel. I also highly recommend you discuss the subject with sellers who are providing personnel that might be considered high risk (performing hazardous work, have unescorted access to all buyer facilities, could adversely affect safety, etc.).

While we don’t want to get in the middle of an employer/employee relationship, but it is our obligation to protect our company and ask a few questions of our sellers. If you don’t like the answer, or sellers can’t convince you they have a good employee validation process, then maybe it’s time to look for another seller. Try these discussion questions:

  1. Are you subcontracting any portion of this work? Are you only providing your employees in performance of this agreement?
  2.  I’m interested to know what process you go through to verify that your employees who will be performing work in my facility, will do so in a safe manner.
  3. Do you require background or substance abuse checks of potential employees?
  4. Is your hiring process in compliance with ICRA?
  5. Have you considered or are you also using the E-Verify system?

Even if it doesn’t change much – the simple act of asking questions will raise awareness of the seller [and your staff] about the potential issues. In this case, anything that initiates detailed discussions about contract requirements (explicit or implied) before there is a problem, is a good thing.

Plug and Play Negotiating

Sorry, negotiation can't be automatic. However, with a few tips and some preparation - you can get a head start and greatly improve your chances for creating good agreements.  How? Take a look at a recent presentation I made on this subject then read more here.

Personal Development

Three critical aspect of your Professional Image….

From an article by the same name in eSide Supply Management is

Nobody hates a good listener! As an old proverb says, you have two ears and one mouth, so you should use them in the same proportion. When someone is talking, are you really listening? Active listening is a skill which, once learned and practiced, gives you extreme focus and clarity when communicating with others. Its return on investment has enormous benefit for your professional image.

Good, effective writing is generally only appreciated in its absence. People can only interpret what you're trying to communicate by reading your words. Your writing stands alone — sometimes forever.

Here are some newsletter articles of mine along the same lines:

ISM News

Information Source

A lot of useless items end up at your desk. This isn't one of them.
A new, bimonthly e-publication from the Institute for Supply Management™   eSide Supply Management

Career advice. Research results. International business tips for when you travel. Social responsibility case studies. Negotiating strategies. eSide offers all this information — and more — exclusively to ISM members. 

Here is an excerpt form the November/December 2009 Issue

Top 5 Negotiated Terms of a contract

……… For example, confidentiality/nondisclosure moved farthest up the ranking of terms, occupying the No. 5 spot in 2008 versus a No. 10 ranking in 2007. "If anything, the focus has become more protective and risk-averse," the researchers explain in their report, The Top Negotiated Terms: Negotiators Admit They Are on the Wrong Agenda. "[This is] oddly symbolic in an era when public pressure is for increased openness and transparency." 

Confidentiality's leap up the list speaks to the most startling finding of the 2008 results, they say: The terms that negotiators most laboriously deliberate are out of step with the current business need to create a framework for successful business outcomes — to drive transactions that deliver economic value. In contrast, they add, the top negotiated terms of 2008 focus on protection……. 

Leadership Workshop 2010

The 2010 Affiliate leadership workshop will be held in conjunction with the ISM International Conference in San Diego. Starting at about noon on Friday April 23 and ending at about 5 on Saturday April 24.  Leadership workshop participation is free and will be handled about the same way as last year.

The leadership Workshop Planning Committee will be considering program ideas for the 2010 affiliate Leadership workshop.

Please send me your Leadership Workshop program suggestions before August 25 and I’ll pass them along to the committee.

Last year’s program topics in Charlotte were well received. You can find copies of the presentations in the ISM members only pages of the ISM web site at .  The programs were good and we had some useful discussions.

Leadership workshops are a great place to train, encourage and energize key members of your affiliate. Officers, Committee Chairs, Board members, and other active volunteers all benefit from the information about ISM and networking with other affiliate members. Encourage affiliate members to plan on participating.

I highly recommend new officers and active members of the affiliate attend the leadership workshop. Given the location, I expect it to be a well-attended and fun event. Even if you don’t yet know who a new officer will be, budget the cost to attend, make a TBD reservation and initiate travel plans

Contemporary Issues in Subcontracting

The ISM Federal Acquisition and Subcontract Management Group (ISM FASMG) is proud to present a Web seminar.

This event will take place on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 1:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time (12:00 Noon, Central Standard Time; 11:00 AM, Mountain Standard Time; 10:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time).

Among the topics covered will be:

  •             Criteria for the classification of a "subcontract"

  •             Distinguishing prime contracts from subcontracts

  •             Significant issues with Federal subcontracts

  •             Comparing/Contrasting F.A.R. and UCC, as they apply to Federal subcontracts

  •             Protection from unnecessary liability for both prime contractors and subcontractors

  •             Applying F.A.R. Part 12 "Commercial Item Acquisitions" in the subcontract environment

Your presenter will be Ernest G. Gabbard, JD, CPSM, C.P.M., CPCM.  Mr. Gabbard currently directs all strategic sourcing for Allegheny Technologies, Inc., with a $4 billion spend.  His previous experience includes positions with Hughes Aircraft and Litton Industries; he also has served as a Contracting Officer within the US government.  Mr. Gabbard has given presentations on Federal subcontracting issues for both ISM and the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).  He is currently on the Board of Advisors for the Supply Chain Management Program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and on the Board of the ISM FASMG.

You may register now for this event by using this link.  Information about accessing the Webinar will be sent to you early in the week of February 14th.

If you have any questions, please contact the FASMG Chair, Elaine Whittington, at, or Lynn Marstiller at ISM Affiliate Support (

Software Tips

I've received several common software questions lately. Here is my response.  Take this advice with a grain of salt - I'm not a techie - just an interested user

  • Am I better off to have Windows 7 or Vista?
    • If you buy a new machine, that is set up for Windows 7 - get it.  If you have a very new machine that included an upgrade coupon to Windows 7 - I'd wait another month or two before making the switch.
    • If you have an older machine running  Windows XP or Vista -  don't even think about switching to Windows 7......  unless all of your friends call you are a geek and you are prepared to loose everything, suffer incurable disease,  and willing to endure a plague of locusts.
  • Should I convert to Internet Explorer 8?
    • Recent articles I've read say that for most if us with relatively new machines, it's time to make the switch. I plan to do so in the next few weeks..
  • Should I try doing the (any) software upgrade myself?
    • Not unless you can read and follow instructions. Take the time to do some searching on the internet to gather some information and advice before proceeding - and getting in to trouble.


Looking for Something?

Are you trying to find an article or program on a particular subject? You can search all of the items on my web site using Google with this link:
(hint, substitute your own search term in place of "negotiation". 
This trick works for most web sites. Read more here: Searching Google

Glossary of Insurance Terms

Cost Principles

Even if you are not facing an audit, knowing how contractor costs are prepared and audited, is a powerful tool when you are negotiating. 

Provide Feedback and suggestions for future newsletters at any time. I'll try and use what I can.

I really do appreciate those of you who take the time to write and comment on this newsletter! As always, you are welcome to use my articles or presentations for educational purposes. Just as long as you are not charging for the materials and credit the source.  



Read more articles in the Purchasing Toolbox at and in the BuyTrain news article archive at Return to MLTweb

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Last Updated: 05/23/2006