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What’s your contracting legacy?

Federal managers, especially those involved in procurements, say that they want to have a lasting impact and leave their organizations better off than before they came. Most start out with grand plans, an open mind, and a real desire to make positive changes.

But then something happens… The change is much harder than they realized, or they come to understand that their organization is more interested in avoiding trouble than making things better. They may start to implement a new system, but when it doesn’t really achieve the goal, and it becomes more trouble than it was worth, they give it a rest. Or the whole process is just too burdensome to begin in the first place. So risk aversion becomes the goal, not transformation. Managers become discouraged, hold the line, and fire up the retirement clock to count the days.

But what if you really could have an impact?

We know that every agency is struggling with the knowledge and skills of the contracting workforce, even the best of them. Oversight is sporadic rather than 100%, struggling staff make more work and worry for the rest of the team, contracts are late coming out, close-outs are stacking up, experienced staff are leaving, and the new folks coming in need guidance and a lot of on-the-job training that no one really has time for.

What is the typical response? We keep throwing more training and consulting at it, or we bring on contractors to do the work of COs and CORs when it just becomes too much.

I’m not going to say that there is a silver bullet, but there might be a better way.

Modern technology has the ability to help agencies improve their contracting on every level including oversight, training, compliance, tracking, transferring contracts, and responding to protests and audits. It can bring up the level of knowledge and skills, give managers oversight tools, and allow agencies to deal with increasing workload without self-destructing.

Imagine, if you will, a new reality—the one of real transformation through technology. Here is what it could look like:

  1. You have oversight into the day-to-day management and performance of every contract at the COR/program office level.
  2. Your staff easily communicate and share documents, and all contract materials are in one central location, easily accessible by your whole contract team.
  3. Your staff improve their knowledge and skills, and new staff is guided through the work of contract management by the system, thus requiring less time for on-the-job training.
  4. You are able to quickly address any emerging compliance problems before they become catastrophic.
  5. You immediately know the burn rate for all contracts within your organization.
  6. You know which CORs are your superstars, which are struggling, and where to dedicate your efforts for staff improvement.
  7. You have objective measures of performance.
  8. You have a handle on things and can sleep better at night.

I’m not saying that transformation is easy. It does require commitment, vision, and leadership. But it is possible, and modern technology can help get you there. What’s your legacy?

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