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FCW : March 15, 2016
SHUTTERSTOCK An industry contract manager shared a simi- lar observation with me a few months ago. When I reported on it in a blog post, I noted that it was different from a com- mon view among outside observers that the govern- ment typically accepts con- tract modifications without any real pushback. I would be curious to hear from government and industry readers about where they think government reactions to modification requests fit on a Goldilocks scale. Are officials more likely to insist on an unchanged contract, do they readily accept contractor propos- als, or is their reaction just right? “There is also the reality that often months (if not a year-plus) pass between proposal submittal and actual contract award,” Lee added. “Those government and industry people who then expect to ‘perform’ to a contract [that] starts out with an outdated baseline are in for a tough ride. A thorough post-award meet- ing and proper actions by both parties [are] essential to a successful start.” I asked what she saw as best practices for the dif- ferent roles and respon- sibilities of the program manager, the contract- ing officer’s representative and the contracting officer. Her answer was straightforward: The program man- ager should set the expectations the government has for the contractor and should monitor performance, the COR should execute on the program manager’s strategy, and the contract- ing officer should take charge of any necessary post-award negotiations with the contractor. “A great program manager is there all the time, getting all three groups inside the government aligned and working together,” Lee said. “If the contracting officer or COR is out of sync with the program manager, then you have the program manager telling the contractor to do one thing and the COR or contracting officer giving different signals.” It should not be the responsibility of the contractor to mediate among the government players, Lee said. “It’s an awkward position and can lead to further performance challenges — such as the program manager giving direc- tion, the contracting officer disagreeing and the contractor stuck in the middle, but most of all, the mission not get- ting completed.” What do you think of her assessment of those roles and respon- sibilities? Share your thoughts with me at steve_kelman@hks. harvard.edu. n Steve Kelman is a professor of pub- lic management at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. His blog can be found at fcw.com/ thelectern. “The top 25 percent look at things that really matter and evaluate [them]. They recognize that it’s more important that you deliver the service on time than that you submit reports on time.” — DEIDRE LEE March 15, 2016 FCW.COM 29 031516fcw_028-029.indd 29 2/18/16 2:45 PM
March 30, 2016