part of a continuing discussion on contract management, former Administrator of
the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Steve Kelman, blogged about the need
to focus on this issue on Federal Computer Week.
to this call, ASI Government is allowing access to some of their tools,
which are normally only provided as part of a subscription to their Virtual
Acquisition Office. These
tools are a good primer on contract management, and should provide some useful
reference for those seeking to learn more about how to effectively manage
effective contract management can only be successful if a real, outcomes-based
focus is done upfront, and before the contract is even awarded. The acquisition
reform initiatives currently underway across government continue to be focused
primarily on pre-award contracting functions, without a clear path on how to
effectively manage these contracts once they are awarded.
has this been problematic? First and foremost, failed leadership continues to
plague effective contract management. Either through a lack of attention to
agencies' contracting activities, or the inability to properly analyze data
through antiquated or ineffective contract management solutions, it seems like
senior officials remain blissfully ignorant of waste and abuse. As reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in
testimony from 1992:
…In other cases, senior officials have not
made managers accountable for effective contract administration, nor have they
made a sufficient commitment to correct contracting problems that have
seems little has changed in the almost 25 years since this testimony was given.
Even recent testimony by GAO describes ongoing issues with contract
management, as they relate to services contracts:
…As we testified before you in May, Mr.
Chairman, agency procurements of services often are not being conducted as
efficiently as they could be. We have found that too frequently agencies are
not clearly defining their requirements, fully considering alternative
solutions, performing vigorous price analyses, or adequately overseeing
contractor performance. Such problems clearly point to a need for more focused
report describes several areas of needed improvement. Namely, strong Chief
Acquisition Officers across government with clearly defined roles and
responsibilities, improved training of the acquisition workforce, and better
adoption of performance-based contracts.
if we want to start fixing contract management issues across government, we
need to start at the beginning, and have leaders across government who
recognize the problem. These leaders need to be engaged, and have the ability
to address the problems from the ground up if we expect any real change.