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FCW : August 30, 2014
The fth and nal key element to deliv- ering successful IT programs is devel- oping the proper relationships with the contractor or contractors sup- porting the program. Most govern- ment agencies cannot execute large IT programs without outside support, and those relationships have both formal and informal aspects. The formal aspect of a contractor relationship includes the procurement and the resulting contract in which the scope of work, terms and incentives are codi ed. That is where the procure- ment organization, with the contract- ing of cer or of cers being part of the team, must work closely with or even be embedded as part of the program management of ce (PMO) to make sure contracts are structured to best support what the program is seeking to achieve. Yet there are aspects of the pro- curement process that I have found particularly disturbing in reviewing many government IT programs. Take, for example, the lowest price, techni- cally acceptable (LPTA) procurement approach. If the government is buying commodity items or services, and the implementation and execution risks are low, LPTA is a good choice. Too often, however, LPTA is being used on key development and implementation contracts for large IT programs. I have been steadfast in my belief that paying a reasonable premium to a better quali ed contractor that will lower overall program execution risk is always the right decision. The price of failure on such programs is so much greater than any premium the government would pay to a contrac- tor that, on balance, the government should be using "best value" criteria for contractor selections on its large, complex IT programs. I also wish to reiterate a point I made in my column on the people factor in programs: "The federal government would improve its ability to buy IT substan- tially if the contracting of cers report- ed to the program managers and were measured not just on following the procurement regulations but on deliv- erables provided by the contractor and the success of the program. Pro- gram managers are often stuck with contract vehicles that are ill suited to the work that needs to be done, and they have no recourse." The informal aspect of a contractor relationship, meanwhile, is the man- agement of the contractor via the PMO. When reviewing a program, I look to see whether the contractor employees are well integrated into the program and clearly understand their role and the roles of others, and whether there is open and candid communication among the parties. That type of environment will enable team members to identify issues early, share and discuss innovative ideas, and make informed decisions. In a well-integrated and functional program, there should be a sense of one team on which the government and contractor employees are working together effectively to meet program objectives. I refer to such an environ- ment as "badgeless" because program members feel they are part of a team and it matters little whether they are a government or contractor employee. They are there to get the job done. An effective way to achieve a well-integrated team is to ensure that, although the government must BY RICHARD A. SPIRES Here is what it takes, both of cially and informally, to make the partnership between an agency and a contractor succeed Program management: The contractor's role CIOPerspective Richard A. Spires has been in the IT eld for more than 30 years, with eight years in federal govern- ment service. Most recently, he served as CIO at the Department of Homeland Security. He is now CEO of Resilient Network Systems. 28 August 30, 2014 FCW.COM
September 15, 2014
August 15, 2014