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FCW : February 2016
In the area of public management, pro- curement is something of a neglected stepchild — especially considering the amount of money spent and the significance of contracting for accom- plishing the government’s work. And post-award contract management is a stepchild of a stepchild, getting scant attention even from people engaged in contracting. Yet the ultimate success or failure of a contracting effort is dependent on how well the government manages the contract after it is awarded. Most con- tracting failures are failures of manage- ment. In its 2015 annual report on the performance of the Defense Acquisi- tion System, the Defense Department cited a 2014 report by the Institute for Defense Analyses when it noted that the weapons systems “started dur- ing the reforms of the mid-1990s — which encouraged a more ‘hands off’ and ‘let industry do its job’ approach and included a significant downsizing of the DOD acquisition workforce — produced significantly higher funding cost growth than other regimes.” De-emphasizing contract manage- ment, in other words, seems to have hurt performance. (Mea culpa: This downsizing took place while I was in government, and though I was not per- sonally involved in it, it was driven by DOD colleagues with whom I closely worked. In hindsight, it appears that the hands-off approach, which was well intentioned, went too far.) A few months ago on my blog on FCW.com, I began asking whether something could be done to draw more attention to the issue of improv- ing post-award contract management. In my first post on the topic, my only concrete suggestion was one I knew would be controversial — that the gov- ernment might need to hire more in- house IT “doers” to enhance its exper- BY STEVE KELMAN It’s time for a serious discussion of this essential activity, which is not always given the attention it deserves Improving post-award contract management TheLectern We as a community must figure out how best to improve post-award contract management. We cannot afford to do nothing. 26 February 2016 FCW.COM SHUTTERSTOCK 0216fcw_026-027.indd 26 1/22/16 8:58 AM
March 15, 2016