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Contracting Competence Highlighted As Key Success Factor

November 19, 2008

An audit report on Iraqi reconstruction projects has unearthed almost 600 cases of contract mismanagement. It highlights a range of key actions that should be taken to ensure improved performance. Analysis of the report by IACCM researchers has produced the following summary. While some of the actions are specific to government sector, many of them apply equally to all contracting environments – and the principles of better selection, improved relationship segmentation and improved tools and systems are among the top actions recommended by IACCM in its current ‘call to action’ for our community.

IT: Developing information systems for managing contracting and procurement

Training: Getting contracting personnel trained to execute specific types of contracting. Early involvement of contracting staff (in the planning stage itself). Institutionalize special contracting programs

Develop and implement information systems for managing contracting and procurement in contingency operations.

The interagency working group that explores the CFAR should also review current contracting and procurement information systems and develop guidelines and processes for enhancing these existing systems or, if necessary, creating new ones to meet unique contingency operational needs.

Create a deployable reserve corps of contracting personnel who are trained to execute rapid relief and reconstruction contracting during contingency operations. This contracting reserve corps could be coordinated by the DoS Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization as part of its civilian ready reserve corps.

An existing contingent of contracting professionals, trained in the use of the CFAR and other aspects of contingency contracting, could maximize contracting efficiency in a contingency environment. Include contracting staff at all phases of planning for contingency operations. Contracting plays a central role in the execution of contingency operations, and thus it must be part of the pre-deployment planning process. Whether for stabilization or reconstruction operations, contracting officials help provide an accurate picture of the resources necessary to carry out the mission.

Pursue the institutionalization of special contracting programs. In Iraq, smaller scale contracting programs, like the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) and the Commanders Humanitarian Relief and Reconstruction Program (CHRRP), achieved great success. Commanders used these programs to accomplish projects that immediately met the needs of a post-war population in distress.

Given the positive performance of CERP and CHRRP in Iraq, the Congress should legislatively institutionalize such programs for easy implementation in future contingency operations. Pre-compete and pre-qualify a diverse pool of contractors with expertise in specialized reconstruction areas. These contractors should receive initial reconstruction contracts during the start-up phase of a post-conflict reconstruction event.)

One Comment
  1. Interestingly, one could argue that these goals need to be more rigorously pursued throughout federal government contracting procurement, particularly for defense contracts. To understand how important this is, one could note that the cost of defense contract overruns alone exceeded the federal budget deficit in 2007. One key improvement would be to have the decision makers who have spending authority trained on how to use key contract pricing clauses to protect against overruns, particularly for manufacturing development projects which can often be an extremely expensive moving target. Additionally, use of these protections should be required and audited against on a regular basis to ensure cost containment.

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