Through marketing our GovProcure application, we have had the unique opportunity to meet with 10s of federal agencies and learn about their specific processes for contract management. An interesting thing has come to light. Many agencies do not have certified CORs involved in the full procurement lifecycle—all the way from Presolicitation through Closeout. Depending on the agency, CORs can come in at any step along the way. A common trend is to have program folks (who may or may not be certified CORs) write the statement of work, develop the IGCE and evaluation criteria and pass that off to the Contracting Officer/Specialist. Then an evaluation team steps in for source selection, which may or may not be the same folks involved in developing the solicitation. Finally, once a vendor has been selected, the contract is officially assigned to a COR, who may or may not have had any involvement in the procurement up to this point.
Given that various people, with different interests and skills sets, may be responsible for a procurement at various points in the lifecycle, several important questions arise:
1) If the person/people developing the solicitation is not a COR, have they had any training on how to develop an SOW, IGCE, or evaluation criteria?
2) If the same person developing the solicitation will not be the on-going COR, might there be a disconnect in the way they envision contract performance and the way the COR actually has to manage as specified under the SOW?
3) What level of accountability does the early ‘solicitation development team’ have for the successful performance of the contract?
4) What if the COR finds that the SOW is unworkable as written?
5) How are the activities of all of these workers coordinated?
This type of business process seems to be the norm, rather than the exception. Regardless of whether you think it is good to have so many cooks in the kitchen, it is clear that increasing the number of people involved in a procurement, and assigning certain steps to different people, requires careful thought to communication, collaboration and quality control. What is more, to ensure that the government is getting best value, the SOW must illicit the optimum performance, quality and accountability of the contractor as well as government staff. A decentralized and specialized process can work, but it requires careful thought and the tools to ensure that it does. It can’t be left to chance.