Best practices for government acquisition of professional services contracts

There’s an interesting new report out from the IBM Center for The Business of Government, “Effectively Managing Professional Services Contracts: 12 Best Practices.” The authors of this new report break down the professional contract acquisition process into five phases, with a series of best practices identified for each of the phases:

  1. Phase 1: Obtaining contract support:

    • Clearly define expectations of success for the contract
    • Use a contracting approach that supports a partnership with the contractor
    • Define and follow a fair bidding and awarding process

  2. Phase 2: Orienting team members:

    • Provide orientation for contractors

  3. Phase 3: Executing the contract:

    • Develop an integrated project team to enhance productivity and the ability to
      adapt to changes
    • Clearly define roles and expectations for government and contractor staff
    • Actively manage staff and contractor turnover
    • Motivate and reward contractors to increase commitment and decrease
    • Regularly monitor performance and provide feedback
    • Establish clear communication processes among project team members

  4. Phase 4: Documenting new knowledge:

    • Use knowledge management practices to enhance project performance in
      spite of short-term costs

  5. Phase 5: Capturing lessons learned:

    • Use After Action Reports to help managers apply lessons learned to other
      projects and contexts

This report should be of interest to all those who are involved with government professional service contracts, including election officials.