25 September 2012 But I'm an engineer—not a contracts lawyer!
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Industrial partners, commercial vendors, and subsystem contractors play a large role in the design and construction of modern telescopes. Because many telescope projects carry relatively small staffs, engineers are often required to perform the additional functions of technical writing, cost estimating, and contract bidding and negotiating. The skills required to carry out these tasks are not normally taught in traditional engineering programs. As a result, engineers often learn to write Request for Proposals (RFPs), select vendors, and negotiate contracts by trial-and-error and/or by adapting previous project documents to match their own requirements. Typically, this means that at the end of a contract the engineer has a large list of do's, don'ts, and lessons learned for the next RFP he or she must generate. This paper will present one such engineer's experience writing and bidding proposal packages for large telescope components and subsystems. Included are: thoughts on structuring SOWs, Specs, ICDs, and other RFP documents; modern methods for bidding the work; and systematic means for selecting and negotiating with a contractor to arrive at the best value for the project.
© (2012) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Mark Warner, Mark Warner, Harvey Bass, Harvey Bass, } "But I'm an engineer—not a contracts lawyer!", Proc. SPIE 8449, Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy V, 84490O (25 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.923832; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.923832


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