Government contracting is divided into three stages: procurement or acquisition planning, sourcing, and post-award contract management. The first two stages have had the most focused time and financial investment for improvement. This approach leaves post-award management as a secondary duty for contract officer representatives (CORs) who are then left unsupported and positioned for ineffective compliance, risk management, and opportunity realization. Arguably, the contract management process after acquisition and sourcing is the most crucial stage for government agencies but has notoriously been given low visibility and insufficient resources. This article will address the challenges and present an actionable post-award contract management solution.
What is Post-Award Contract Management?
Post-award contract management is a critical stage of government contracting consisting of operational and strategic tasks. Comprehensive government contract administration is necessary to successfully manage:
- compliance of terms and conditions
- contract amendments
- contract milestones including payments
- expirations and renewals
- production, packaging, and delivery requirements
- quality assurance, disputes, and claims
- vendor performance analysis and risk assessments
- stakeholder communication
- and contract closeouts
CORs and Post-Award Acquisition Procedures
CORs face the challenge of managing the most critical step in government contracting, however it's not the primary role they were trained to do and yet they are expected to handle the technical and administrative aspects of post-award contracts.
Relying on memory, spreadsheets, emails, and unavailable stakeholders can lead to bottlenecks and a lack of power to ensure compliance around negotiations and issue resolution. CORs must determine if the government is receiving value through its contracts and vendors, and identify and analyze the causes of failed value realization. The recurring problem is that it’s nearly impossible to successfully manage post-award contracts when faced with the following challenges:
Lack of visibility: Contracts stored in disparate systems don't allow for accurate contract tracking, version control, and change management.
Lack of standardization: Contracts without a standard process for expiration and renewal management lead to unwanted automatic renewals, weaker negotiation positioning, lost revenue, and missed opportunities.
Lack of communication: When the contract is finally awarded, communication issues will negatively impact post-award performance. From slow feedback cycles to clause changes to amendments to renegotiations, poor communication will lead to significant issues. Too often, the COR is the last to know of any changes or problems.
How Government Can Get the Most Out of Contracted Dollars
To get the most out of contracted dollars, government agencies should support their CORs with leadership and government contract administration training that will position them to take the unofficial, but very much needed role of a contract performance manager.
CORs are the key to getting the most out of contracted dollars. With a combination of the right training and tools they will be able to effectively manage all post-award duties including:
- validation and verification of contract deliverables
- savings and liability management
- reduction of low-value tasks
- contract ROI assessment
- vendor performance management
- revenue reporting
- invoicing and payment management
- compliance tracking
- obligation management
- expiration and renewal management
- and opportunity identification
Post-award contract management can result in big returns. Take a $300 billion contracting budget, for example, then consider that any incremental contracting improvements have the potential to yield significant returns that can continually lead to increasing contract performance before closeout.
The Most Important Post-Award Contract Management Best Practice
The tool that will support CORs is post-award automation with government contract management software.
The best practice for contract management is to move away from a manual approach to government contract management to automated post-award government contract management. Leading government contract management software will help government agencies seamlessly manage pre-award contracts (acquisition and sourcing) and post-award contracts. Automated post-award contract management software improves operational efficiency and:
- helps CORs correct non-performance with post-award analytics.
- leverages contract data to build more robust contracts in the future.
- optimizes vendor performance for lowered risk, supplier consolidation opportunities, and volume-level discounts.
- ensures compliance with a secure repository, version tracking, and audit trails.
- leverages AI to predict supply or security risk.
- provides contract visibility throughout the agency.
- streamlines contract authoring to minimize the use of internal resources.
- makes contract drafting fast, easy, and error-free.
- integrates with ERP, CRM, and more.
CobbleStone Government Contract Management Software
Since 1995, CobbleStone has been helping government agencies establish and maintain formal business relationships with vendors, suppliers, and providers of goods and services. CobbleStone’s industry-leading government contract management software is trusted by government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.
CobbleStone’s Contract Insight® is a web-based, flexible platform with a fully integrated procurement solution and fully customizable public-facing portal that benefits thousands of users throughout both the public and private sector with cost-effective contracting, transparency, better contract management, and improved legal compliance.
Contract Insight is considered a staple of effective pre-award and post-award government contract management and is conveniently located on the United States GSA Schedule 70.