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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Where are the best contract management practices?

Last week, I wrote a post about a blog written by Steve Kelman over at FCW.com. For those who don’t know, Kelman is the former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Weatherhead professor of public management at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Few people know as much about procurement and government management than Kelman, and his blog – he called it a plea – was right in his sweet spot. He wants to start a conversation on how to improve post-award contract management.

He called post-award contract management the stepchild of a stepchild in the area of public management, which is a shame when you consider that the ultimate success of a program isn’t about how the contract is awarded, but how it is managed afterward.

You can’t really argue against his position and his plea for ways to improve post-award management. Kelman had three ideas in his blog – more use of 18F and the U.S. Digital Services, IV&V contracting, and personal services contracting. In my post, I added one -- more transparency about performance.

But these are just starting points, and from the comments that Kelman’s blog has received, there are plenty that agree with him that this is a problem that needs of addressing.

I won’t rehash the comments, but I learned one thing – there is a lot of information already out there about better management. But there does seem to be a disconnect between plans and practice. Some of it might be a lack of expertise at the program management level. Or it could be a matter of too little resources with the qualified people stretched too thin.

It’s probably a combination of many things, and I doubt there is a universal answer.

One of Kelman’s commenters asked for examples of where post-award contract management is working well. And I agree.

That’s my plea today – send me some examples of agencies or offices that are doing it right. You can email me directly – nwakeman@washingtontechnology.com – if you don’t want to use the comment section below.

This topic is well outside any area of expertise I have, but it seems to me there is a need for a collection of best practices. And perhaps those best practices are specific to agencies. For example, what works at the Army doesn’t necessarily work at the Energy Department.

Or is good management good management? I just don’t know, but I want to hear from you because I think the contractor community is in a great position to identify these best practices.

So, what’s working out there and what can we learn from it?

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 21, 2016 at 11:19 AM


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