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Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

From Contingent Workforce Strategies...
Here's a brief outline you may find helpful in crafting your RFI/RFP's as it pertains to your contingent workforce.

A Contingent Workforce RFP

There are many different styles and variations of RFP's for contingent workforce services. Listed below are some of the most important topics your RFP should address.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the half-page of text that puts buyers and sellers on the same page. It is your opportunity to position clearly what's most important to you in the RFP and how you expect it to be presented.


The introduction is your opportunity to provide the information bidders need in order to know where your program stands today, where you're trying to take it, and what known obstacles stand in the way.

Supplier Profile

This section requests background of the supplier, including geographic scope, experience, awards, references and some indication of the financial stability of the firm.


This section requests a description of the main components of the service that a provider will offer and its experience delivering that service. It also should uncover such things as how your account will be managed and how communication will flow between organizations.

Additional Services

This section collects information on any special services that suppliers can provide such as data analysis or less typical service offerings such as payrolling services, 1099 qualification services, or consulting.


Depending on the sort of solution you are seeking you will need to inquire at various depths about the type of technology that suppliers will bring to bear to your account. If your organization is seeking an MSP/VMS relationship then the questions in this section need to be quite detailed.


This section requests the approach to implementation that your suppliers will take, the resources that they will bring to bear for the project and their expected timeline.


How will your suppliers help your organization get up to speed with the tools, technologies and processes that must be mastered with your new supplier relationship? And what support will they provide for ongoing education?


This section is perhaps the first thing most RFP readers jump to, but should really serve as the start of a discussion rather than the endpoint.

Service Level Agreements

Companies often require that their providers meet certain levels of service delivery and have some of their profits at risk if those levels are not met.


The user of any RFP will benefit from having a glossary of terms to ensure that there are common understandings of important terms.

From Contingent Workforce Strategies... 
Make sure your vendor metrics are realistic and fair.  Including your vendors in defining vendor scorecards and performance measurement criteria, not only "buys them in" to the process but produces more effective ratings and service level agreements.

Peek Under the Hood:  Trust, But Verify


All too often, corporations enter a staffing vendor relationship with the mindset that the vendor is untrustworthy. Whether it is on the contract staffing side or the direct hire side, most human resources departments approach the relationship cautiously and often try to keep the vendor at arms-length. But such a negative approach practically guarantees failure. When there is trust in the relationship, though, it's perfectly reasonable for the buyer to expect that trust to be justified - and that results from mutually agreed-upon measurements.

It is a common practice for buyers and managers of contingent workers to dictate outcomes and measures to staffing vendors. Such an approach is certainly more streamlined and easier to implement. However, including staffing vendors in the task of setting outcomes and metrics will prove to be a superior method.

Successful implementation of a program where staffing vendors are part of the process of setting outcomes and measures starts with an important shift in how buyers think. The first step in shifting that thought process is viewing staffing vendors as an extension of the human resources department.

Change in Perspective
This shift by HR or even procurement departments does not happen overnight. It requires senior leadership to establish a policy of viewing vendors as an extension of the company itself. Ultimately, a plan will need to be built out that includes conducting a gap analysis, establishing an envisioned future, educating employees, setting relational guidelines and conducting regular follow-up meetings.

Developing a mindset and mode of operation that staffing vendors are part of a team will engender loyalty and flexibility. One positive effect is that your company will become a priority account. Additionally, it can yield a whole host of information, from a staffing vendor's perspective, regarding best practices in the talent acquisition game.

I am not proposing that a corporation become completely transparent to its staffing vendors. These relationships function best in a checks-and-balances system. And they work better when all parties are involved in creating the measuring stick. "Better" in this case is the implementation of an organization's overall staffing strategy.

Assume that a company has a healthy, open relationship with its staffing vendors. How do the two entities set outcomes and measurements that deliver value and are fair?

Strategic Alignment
In a perfect world, the outcomes that one would be setting with staffing vendors are pulled directly from the organization's staffing strategies, which, in turn, are aligned with its corporate strategies. Such results could be global, such as accomplishing key initiatives (staffing a new plant or staffing a project). Others could be smaller in scope, such as increasing utilization rates or conversion rates.

With the outcomes in hand, it is best to ask staffing vendors such questions as:

  • Are the metrics we are currently using helping us to reach these outcomes?
  • Are they realistic?
  • Are they generating the best and most useful information?
  • Are they helping us all to succeed?


The better staffing vendors will have numerous metrics that they will share gladly in exchange for deepening their relationship with an organization. Those metrics that were created by both parties will actually improve results.  

Avoid Errors
A common and critical error is to make dollars and cents the dominant measurement of a vendor relationship. That is because it will affect all decisions governing staffing vendors - including those that don't hinge on economics. If the need to spend less money is not balanced with other outcomes, it will have a deleterious effect in many ways. The best approach is to put the dollars spent against priorities. If something costs more, but is also more important to achieving a company's goals, then it is money well spent.

It is a critical error to push unrealistic metrics on staffing vendors. Vendors then find it difficult to buy into the program. If they are part of the process, and if their input is heard, good things will result.

Some metrics simply do not make sense. Take performance metrics, for example. On any given day, see if your company's best internal recruiter can match the performance required of a staffing vendor. If not, then those higher expectations of the vendor should be reviewed.

Meanwhile, some metrics make sense on the surface, but not when you dig deeper. For example, establishing a four-hour turnaround time on requisitions or requiring a certain number of submissions on requisitions seem logical. Yes, companies want a quick turnaround time and want to ensure that staffing firms on their list are working diligently on their job orders. In reality, though, such requirements encourage vendors simply to submit resumes in quantity. Over time, quality goes out the window.

By viewing staffing suppliers as an extension of an HR department, by setting outcomes and measurements in conjunction with staffing vendors, an organization enhances the value of what is delivered and at little or no cost. Otherwise, the supplier might chafe under arbitrary control to the point where it will seek other opportunities. Or, the company might be faced with a constant churn of vendors that can't meet its arbitrary standards.

The ultimate goal for any organization that relies on contingent work is flexibility, cost-efficiency and quality work. All of those can be met with a different way of thinking and some cooperation.

From NACCB Vendor Management Best Practices...
This list of 10 questions is the result of a survey conducted by the NACCB (National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses) based on input from 4 stakeholders - clients, vendors, managed service providers and consultants.

1. Have you included hiring managers/users and vendors in the design and periodic evaluation of the VMS program?

The needs of all the constituencies must be taken into account when designing a VMS program. A balance must be created between the needs of the end user (the department that employs the contingent worker), the needs of procurement and HR, the needs of the VMS program managers, and the needs of the staffing companies (who also represent the needs of the consultants). Everyone is on the same team working towards the same objectives: program success, payback and ensuring an efficient and proactive hiring process that results in hiring the best people at the most reasonable rates.

2. Do you have the proper number of preferred vendors to work with?

Too many vendors and you will lose the interest of vendors who perceive the probability of making a placement as too low. Not only would even their "fair share" be small, but at the same time their recruiting costs go up in parallel with worse fill ratios. For example, if there were 10 vendors, a fair share would logically average out to 1 placement for every 10 times a vendor recruits. Increasing that to 50 vendors means a vendor must recruit 50 times to make that same 1 placement.

Too few vendors can also be problematic, so you have to closely examine your anticipated needs, factor in reasonable fill ratios to keep vendors interested, and determine the optimum number. Also, many VMS programs have "secondary" or "tier 2" vendors. Do you have a sound procedure for using secondary vendors? Secondary vendors understand their position, but in order to maintain a quality secondary list it's important to offer them realistic opportunities - you may need them someday.

3. Do you provide the means for responsive communications?

If you don't allow this, you will lose the interest of vendors that place great importance in directly understanding the needs of your managers and in playing a consultative and advisory role to your organization. These high-service vendors are the vendors that you want.

Contrary to what many think, allowing controlled communication with hiring managers actually increases the VMS program efficiency because the candidate/client match is focused and the total time spent sorting and interviewing is shortened. Also consider the need for proactive management of consultants currently on assignment.

4. Do you encourage candidate quality over resume submittal speed?

If you're receiving too many resumes very quickly with disappointing results, it may be that vendors are skipping important recruiting, screening and evaluation tasks in order to submit a resume before the requirement is closed. Tell your vendors you will collect resumes for 3-5 days before you make any hiring decisions. This will result in their presenting you with "best fit" candidates versus "first fit" ones.

5. Do you have limits on the number of resumes vendors may submit per job order?

Limits are a good idea for both clients and vendors. They prevent clients from being deluged with resumes and encourage vendors to be selective in whom they submit. A reasonable number of resumes per vendor depends upon the size of your vendor list, but 2-3 per vendor seems to work well. This allows the vendor to be selective and still realize an acceptable fill ratio - assuming your vendor list is not overly large.

6. Do you provide vendors sufficient detail on the job requirements?

Skimpy requirements produce skimpy candidates. Your requirements should be thorough and complete regarding technical skills, application skills, interpersonal skills, position responsibilities, duration, option-to-hire, etc.

When questions arise on requirements, make sure you respond quickly and effectively to the vendors. Respect the fact that the better vendors typically ask more probing questions, which allow them to better pinpoint the most appropriate candidates.

7. Do you have adequately skilled VMS staff reviewing the resumes?

If not, they will likely base their decisions on resume acronyms and buzzwords - which unfortunately may encourage some vendors to embellish resumes to secure an interview.

8. Do you provide vendors with prompt and sufficient resume and interview feedback?

Responsiveness to vendors is a key attribute for VMS success. Without feedback, vendors will not learn or improve from the experience so they can better serve you. Feedback must be prioritized. However, even if you as a VMS manager do not have feedback from the hiring managers, at least be responsive.

9. Do you negotiate "too hard" on pricing and contractual terms with vendors?

If so, you may discourage vendors from submitting their best candidates - which they will present to more favorable clients. You may also find your vendor list consisting of companies that compete on price versus quality - which is probably not what you desire.

10. Do you track vendor and program performance and share it with the vendors?

The good vendors want to know how they are performing so that they can improve.  Likewise, they want your program to succeed so that they succeed...a classic win/win. The exchange of information and ideas provides invaluable insight.

From 2/16/09 ComputerWorld... 
You're a strong advocate of negotiating for a higher starting salary. How is that possible when there's so much competition for every job?

Many job seekers erroneously believe that they can't negotiate wages, benefits or perks in a tight labor market for fear of losing a job offer. Because of this, many people enter new jobs feeling like they've been taken advantage of. As a result, they ultimately lose motivation to excel, which in turn means raises and/or promotions don't come as rapidly -- or not at all.

Job seekers need to understand a few realities about the hiring and negotiation process. First, if you don't ask for more, you will never get more. Even if you don't get everything you want, getting a little bit of something is better than getting a whole lot of nothing. If you end up with nothing, you've lost nothing. Second, compensation negotiation isn't a zero-sum game. Both parties can end up winners instead of one having to lose so the other can win. Third, the employer wouldn't be looking if it weren't in need. This puts some immediate negotiation power into the hands of the job seeker who fits the needs of the employer.

There's a belief that every employer is looking for the cheapest worker it can find. In some instances this is true, but in reality most employers realize that paying a fair and equitable wage is one of the best ways to keep good workers, maintain quality and increase productivity.

What if it's clear that there's just no wiggle room on salary?

If they can't give you any more money, negotiate for things that you'd spend money for, things that make you a more valuable employee, things that enhance your quality of life or things that can be turned into money later.

Examples of things you would spend money for are job-related tools, including computers and software; allowances for clothing, parking, gas and day care; or company products or promotional items the company might receive or distribute, such as event tickets. You can also ask if the company gets corporate product discounts on vehicles, credit card interest rates, food supplies, home furnishings, etc. If it does, negotiate for inclusion of these types of things.

Things that make you more valuable might include an educational allowance, or ongoing and on-the-job training (preferably in Hawaii).

Quality-of-life items include reduced travel, a day of telecommuting or a work schedule that fits around family needs.

And things that can be turned into money later include stock options, profit sharing, deferred compensation, cost-of-living increases and bonuses for exceptional work.

What sort of information should a person have at hand in order to negotiate more effectively?

  • A thorough knowledge of what makes you unique and a list of 30 to 60 of your most marketable skills.
  • A list of previous accomplishments and how those accomplishments benefited the prior company's bottom line.
  • Letters of recommendation from previous employers and co-workers highlighting your immediate value to the company.
  • A solid understanding of the needs and problems you can solve at the company to which you're applying.
  • A salary survey for people with your skills and experience in your general work locale.
  • Considerable practice giving verbal examples of how hiring you will benefit the company's bottom line.

From 2/16/09 ComputerWorld...
A twist of fate has IT vets and fresh talent scrambling for the same jobs.

When Bill Horne sauntered into an evening meet-and-greet being held by a local packaging company in search of fresh IT talent, the retired computer engineer knew his chances of leaving the event with a job offer were slim.

Now 56, Horne had spent 25 years working in the telecommunications industry before retiring from Verizon in 2002. Six years later, Horne says he knew that the IT field had changed dramatically, rendering him "out of step" with cutting-edge IT.

But after watching his retirement savings dwindle and the demand for small side projects disappear, Horne says he was "economically motivated" to re-enter the workforce. A casual meet-and-greet seemed like a perfect opportunity for the baby boomer to get his feet wet.

Horne was in for a shock, however. Expecting an informal recruiting event, he found himself in the thick of what "felt like a discotheque," surrounded by throngs of aggressive twentysomethings jostling for the attention of senior-level managers and barking into their cell phones.

"They were talking a lot, the noise was deafening, and the atmosphere was loud, confused and not very businesslike," Horne recalls.

His experience is far from unique. Throughout busy job fairs, crowded boardrooms and hectic IT departments across the U.S., a battle royal is brewing between aging baby boomers and fresh-faced millennials -- two distinct generations with differing work styles, conflicting cultures and disparate skill sets.

On the one side stand the boomers: IT veterans valued for their unwavering work ethic, vast experience and institutional memory. On the opposing side, the millenials: Web 2.0 natives with technology in their DNA who would rather text and Twitter than talk and who have little patience with the way things have always been done.

IT managers are facing a tough predicament: a head-on collision between two vastly talented yet differing generations, both vying for full-time employment in a fast-shrinking economy. And it's happening everywhere. "Baby boomers coming back into the market is very common," says Brooke Kline, chief technology officer at iBank, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based money management firm. "At the same time, we have just as many millennials coming out of college looking to explore new opportunities."

Deciding whom to hire -- or lay off -- requires sorting through a minefield of competing technical expertise, business acumen, cultural preferences and career expectations.

New Rules

Baby boomers and millennials might have eased by each other in the workplace with no clash at all, as boomers gradually retired and millennials moved in and up the ranks. But a faltering economy changed all that.

Over the past 15 months, the stock market has wiped out $2 trillion in Americans' retirement savings, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And even before the financial crisis hit full force, a February 2008 survey by job site CareerBuilder.com revealed that nearly three out of five U.S. workers age 50 or older were planning to look for work elsewhere after retiring from their current jobs.

And that can put them into competition with candidates their children's ages, says Horne, because once an employee retires, he loses his seniority. "I have realistic expectations that I'm not going to be appointed vice president," he says.

As boomers struggle to resuscitate their careers and millennials flood the workforce, IT managers are having to rethink what it means to be an IT professional and to weigh the relative value of traditional and new-age skills.

That's not always easy. For example, millennials have a tendency to eat, sleep and breathe Web 2.0 technologies, and the value of that may not be immediately clear to a hiring manager.

"When my boomer colleagues see me texting, blogging and using wikis, they see it as social" as opposed to work-related, says Brett Gardner Bonner, a 26-year-old engineering specialist at FedEx Corp. "But they're just tools I use to achieve higher results by gaining consensus and connecting with others."

Yet it's precisely these tools -- and users' proficiency levels -- that are dividing the generations into warring factions. "A millennial is more likely to communicate electronically or be more involved in social networking," says Sherry Aaholm, FedEx's vice president of IT.

Take, for example, Bonner, who practically showers with his BlackBerry Storm and claims his familiarity with Web 2.0 tools is "almost innate." He says he regularly relies on wikis, Twitter and microblogging services like Yammer to communicate with colleagues and swap information. "Boomers prefer conference calls and e-mails, whereas I prefer texting and wikis," says Bonner.

But it's not just the Web. "There's a lot of new technology -- like agile software development and open source -- that young kids have picked up, whereas some of the older folks are still working on migrating," says Jeff Schuster, a recruiter at IT consulting company Halo Group LLC in Novi, Mich.

Boomers are better known for their expertise in more traditional technologies such as IT infrastructure and operating systems. That's good news for FedEx, which is always on the lookout for IT professionals with the skills needed to support its largely mainframe-based package-tracking system. But that type of expertise can limit boomers' prospects elsewhere, Schuster says.

And it's not just about skills; attitude also plays a major role in who gets hired. For example, millennials' eagerness to adopt new technologies -- and some boomers' tendency to resist doing so -- may make recruiters think twice before bringing on an older candidate in need of extensive training.

Making peace in a culture clash

Information technology managers are discovering ways to avert bloodshed without sacrificing the wisdom of IT veterans or the prowess of fresh talent.

FedEx treats the boomer-millennial conundrum as part of its overall commitment to corporate diversity. To help aging IT pros and twentysomethings work together, FedEx has introduced informal programs in which experienced employees mentor junior counterparts. Veterans gain first-hand exposure to millennials' social-network-driven work habits, while junior workers receive a crash course in valuable technologies such client/server systems.

At Serena Software, IT manager Tom Clement says harmony entails "acknowledging employees as individuals" and addressing their unique needs, limitations and skills. For example, Serena's IT staffers may work from home when the need arises. And Web 2.0-challenged employees must spend an hour a week on Facebook to familiarize themselves with social networking tools.

Clement credits CEO Jeremy Burton for "trying to change the culture of our company to be much more relevant to the younger generation."

IBank encourages its employees to host Web conferences and dabble in instant messaging and Skype as part of CTO Brooke Kline's strategy to accommodate the opposing "life structures" of boomers and millennials. "We're trying to convey to [boomers] that you don't need a sit-down meeting to have a discussion," Kline says. The company also holds an informal open forum every Tuesday at noon for IT workers young and old.

Although mentor programs, flextime arrangements and weekly get-togethers can foster greater collaboration between boomers and millennials, everyone recognizes that intergenerational disparities take time to resolve.

"The boomer folks are a little more fixed in their ways and not as open to learning a new set of technology skills," says Aaholm. "That's the difference with the millennial generation -- they're willing to expand their skill base."

This eagerness to learn is giving many millennials a leg up on the competition. But there's a managerial flip side to consider. Young IT workers who are bold enough to take on new technologies are also more likely to be impatient with the constraints of traditional workplaces.

"There's an expectation on the part of millennials that the people who are managing them won't just see them as cogs in the machine but will be flexible with them and take their preferences into account," says Tom Clement, 54, an IT manager at application development firm Serena Software Inc. in Redwood City, Calif.

That kind of rugged individualism delivers enormous value to pioneering companies such as Serena, which is adopting innovative development trends, such as "business mashups" or composite applications, to stay ahead of the curve.

"It takes guts to build mashups, and that's what is great about the millennials," says Clement. "They've got the guts to go in and create a new application, whereas [boomers] aren't as emboldened."

Businesses that expect all employees to march to the beat of the same drummer, however, may have a tough time reining in millennials' more spirited work ethic and thirst for experimentation. And millennials' tendency to mix work with pleasure is another factor that could influence the hiring decisions of IT managers.

"Millennials really want a work-life balance that's seamless; they want to be able to communicate with their friends while they're working," says Kline. The older generation, in contrast, wants "to be productive from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and focus only on work." Those tendencies recently convinced Kline to hire a boomer -- not a millennial -- for a help desk maintenance job with the steady hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"When we looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates, we felt that a baby boomer was more equipped to handle that type of position," says Kline.

Cherry-picking aside, companies must still make some cultural adjustments to successfully mix millennials and boomers in the workplace. Your company's willingness to make those adjustments will affect its ability to recruit and retain talent.

"From a baby boomer's standpoint, it's a big change to see a really bright guy come in at 10:30 a.m. wearing shorts and sneakers and start work," says Kline. "Breaking down that barrier is a big challenge."

Just ask Horne, who dedicated his entire career to a single employer. "Kids coming out of school have no work ethic," he says. "They think life is a video game and that you get paid because you show up."

John Martin, a 62-year-old iBank quality assurance specialist, is more tactful. "My approach to working is much different than that of today's millennials," he says. "A great number of them think there are unlimited jobs out there, and so they approach work a little more casually than people of my generation."

Defining 'Professional'

It's this perception among boomers that deeply offends Nathan Williams, a 30-year-old Serena software engineer who identifies with the millennial generation. "There's the misconception that we're just not professional. But the truth is, we have different ideas of what it means to be professional, and a casual attitude is part of that."

In fact, Williams says millennials' easygoing disposition encourages creativity and "a willingness to break boundaries" that contributes to tasks such as product development.

Millennials' casual approach to work can backfire in risky ways that managers also need to consider, however. According to a February 2008 study by security systems provider Symantec Corp., when asked whether they feel entitled to use whatever application, device or technology they like, regardless of source or corporate IT policies, 69% of millennials said yes while only 31% of other workers did.

Millennials and boomers may have to agree to disagree about what it means to be an IT professional today. But for IT managers, the trick is to weigh what each generation brings to the table and match the individual to the job. And that's a skill that they need to develop quickly.

"The pressure on front-line managers nowadays with the millennials coming into the workforce is greater than it's ever been," says Lisa Orrell, a generational relations expert and author of Millenials Incorporated (Wyatt-MacKenzie, 2008). And, she warns, "the competition is only going to get more fierce as time goes on."

From 2/13/09 WSJ...
High technology and diversified tech conglomerates that made efforts to shape the stimulus plan emerged as big winners in the draft bill expected to come up for a vote Friday.

General Electric Co., whose chief executive, Jeff Immelt, serves as a White House adviser, will likely benefit from a dozen provisions in the bill, from appliance rebates to water-treatment spending and wind-energy tax breaks. Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. stand to benefit from billions of dollars slated for technology infrastructure, environmental and educational projects aimed at improving U.S. competitiveness.

"We always work to have a seat at the table where important projects are being considered," said GE spokesman Peter O'Toole.

The bill sets aside $4.4 billion to upgrade the nation's electrical grid, an issue championed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, GE and other tech companies.

Congress also set aside $19 billion for health information technology that would digitize health records and set privacy and data standards. As the bill was drafted, tech companies worked to beat back concerns among some lawmakers that digitizing patient records could compromise privacy, arguing that the effort would cut medical costs.

"We believe information technology can help create a connected health system that delivers predictive, preventive and personalized care," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote to Congress Wednesday.

Wind and solar power companies lobbied to win a tax break to encourage investment in renewable fuel. But the nuclear-energy industry lost a $50 billion loan-guarantee program that had been included in the legislation until late in the negotiations.

Tech companies gained strong allies in environmentalists, who pushed for provisions including $8 billion for high-speed rail, $8.4 billion for public transit, $6 billion for clean drinking water programs and $5 billion for weatherization programs.

"Congress really got it right," said Erin Allweiss, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental-advocacy group that lobbied for the provisions.

The National Science Foundation will receive $3 billion for research funding, a move cheered by many in the high tech and science communities, which have bemoaned a lack of research funding in recent years.

Intel Corp., the chip giant, said it benefits in several ways from the package. The Silicon Valley company, for example, has been one of the biggest computer-industry players pushing into the health-care arena, promoting new ways to use technology to help homebound patients and automate hospitals and doctors' offices. Security precautions and other issues need to be worked out to reach standards for electronic medical records, said Peter Cleveland, Intel's vice president of global policy, but the $19 billion in funding should definitely lead to efficiency improvements. "It's a win-win all the way around," he said.

Overall, many tech companies are indirect beneficiaries of the stimulus package as the government begins spending on a variety of new programs. PC makers, for example, could see modest revenue increases as government grants to update computer facilities in community colleges and other schools begin filtering out.

Cisco Systems Inc., which makes gear for computer networks, hailed provisions in the bill that target "areas that we play in like broadband and health care and smart grids for electrical uses," Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers said recently in an interview.

The bill allocates $7 billion to expand broadband access in areas with little or no Internet access, a potential boon for equipment manufacturers along with cable and phone companies. Broadband tax credits designed to encourage companies to build out their networks faster died this week, however, after arguments about how to structure the credits prompted lawmakers to simply toss the provision.

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