Government Contracting: Promises and Perils, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Government Contracting

Promises and Perils, 1st Edition

By William Sims Curry


312 pages

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Hardback: 9781420085655
pub: 2010-04-27
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A guidebook through the minefield of government contracting and procurement, Government Contracting: Promises and Perils describes the dangerous practices commonly applied in the development and management of government contracts and provides advice for avoiding the sort of errors that might compromise their ability to protect the public interest. It includes strategies for increasing profits for government contractors, rather than incurring burdensome costs, through compliance with government mandated subcontracting and financial management systems.

Drawing from his indepth investigation of government agencies across the country, the author examines present-day scenarios that regularly lead public servants and government committees to manage contracts with tools that are less than optimal and to select contractors that may not be the best qualified. He then delineates practical processes, contracting documents, and contract management tools to mitigate detrimental outcomes and alternative approaches to supplant the imperfect methodologies.

The author includes a CD-ROM with the book that provides a number of practical tools that you can apply as well as examples of contracts and templates that are the best he discovered during his research. The book also outlines an approach for performing advance contract planning, conducting contract negotiations, and administering contracts useful when planning for the management of the contracting process throughout the contracting cycle, negotiating a contract that protects the interest of all contracting parties, and ensuring successful contractor performance.

The book includes a "Government Procurement Corruption Wall of Shame" that illustrates the myriad perils and stumbling blocks such as conflicts of interest, duplicity, favoritism, incompetence, kickbacks, and protests that government workers fall prey to.. Filled with best practices that protect you from nefarious, amateurish, and criminal mistakes that frequently lead to difficulties with harsh consequences, the book does not end its coverage with discussions of corruption, mismanagement, and ineptitude, but provides practical processes and strategies to diminish the negative impacts from these government contracting perils.


Mr. Curry takes on the ethical and social issues involved in Government contracting in a persuasive and reader friendly manner. No wasted discussions on philosophical issues but direct and meaningful methods of improving a broken system. Suggested reading not only for contracting personnel but anyone involved in government policy making.

—Lee Schuh, Contracting consultant and instructor

Government Contracting: Promises and Perils by William Sims Curry is a good read for government and industry contracting, acquisition and program management professionals. Mr. Curry’s book integrates an emphasis on strong acquisition planning up-front in the acquisition life cycle. Those of us with significant experience and leadership in major acquisition programs know that effective acquisition planning normally results in a clean and effective contract award. Effective acquisition planning leads toward more successful achievement of mission objectives within cost, schedule and scope parameters in a post –award contract management environment.

—John Dobriansky, CPCM, NCMA Fellow, National Contract Management Assoc.

Seldom does a book come along that has true value to the active practitioner in any field. Contracting is fundamental to business of any type and doing so well is extremely important to business success. This book and supplemental material gives any contracting professional a plethora of sound advice and real tools with which to design, develop and implement contracts in a professional and ethical manner. A must for any contract professional’s desk.

—Greg Sanger, PhD, SpectraSensors

Provides cautionary insights into the government procurement processes. A solid treatment of government contracting techniques. Contemporary and in tune with contracting events of the day.

—Dr. Mike Criss, CPCM. 29-year member of the National Contract Management Association; member of the Executive Advisory Council and Ethics and Standards Committee.

This book fills an important gap in teaching contracting in public administration graduate programs. Managers, contractors, and students of this dynamic field will find in this volume a wealth of practical techniques and policy ideas for sound and ethical contracting.

—M. Ernita Joaquin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Table of Contents

Big Picture — Big Issues

The Big Picture: International Implications of Procurement Corruption

The Scourge of Procurement Corruption

Corruption Avoidance



Processes and Issues in Contracting

The Contracting Cycle: Overview of the Contracting Process

Consequences of Failed Contract Planning

Program Success through Effective Contract Planning

Robust Contract Planning’s Contribution to Efficiency and Ethics



Ethics in Contracting

Global Need for Ethical Government Contracting

Pummeled by Corruption: Consequences for Government and Contractors

Optimal Government Service and Increased Contractor Profit

Essential Features for Ethical Contracting Programs



Sole Source or Competition?

Appeal of Competitive Contracting

Establishing a Favorable Environment for Competitive Procurement

Failed Competition Fosters Corruption and Diminishes Budgets

Multiple Benefits of Full and Open Competition



Social Objectives through Government Contracting

Social Contracting Fundamentals

Failed Social Contracting Creates Exposure to Corruption

Establishing an Effective Social Contracting Program

Government Goal Achievement and Improved Contractor Profitability through Successful Social Contracting



Solicitations and Pre-Proposal Communications

Solicitation Fundamentals

Failed Management of Pre-Proposal Communications and Protest Vulnerability

Content of the Best Practices RFP

Superior Contractor Selection and Protest Avoidance with Best Practices RFP

Errant Contractor Selection and Corruption Exposure with Deficient RFP

Promises of Well-Managed Pre-Proposal Communications

Protest and Fraud Avoidance through Well-Managed Pre-Proposal Communications



Proposal Evaluation

Process for Selecting the Best Contractor

Optimizing Contractor Selection with Weighted Proposal Evaluation Criteria

Effective Reaction to Protests from Aggrieved Contractors

Overcoming the Perils of a Deficient Proposal Evaluation Process

Perils of Selecting a Marginal Contractor

Rewards of Selecting the Superior Contractor



Contract Administration

Contract Administration Fundamentals

Invoice Analysis for Avoiding Overpayments

A Process for Forecasting Contract Cost Overruns

Maintaining Program Integrity by Effectively Managing Contract Modifications

Ensuring Timely Milestone Completions and Deliverables

Energizing Underperforming Contractors

Threat to Program Success from Flawed Contract Administration

Administering Contracts to Promote Program Success

Improved Profit, Quality, and Timeliness for Government Contractors



Contracting During Emergencies

Fundamentals of Emergency Contracting

Private-Sector Contributions to Emergency Response

Improved Delivery and Quality while Controlling Emergency Contract Costs

Need to Establish Response Mechanism in Advance of International Emergencies

Obtaining Private-Sector Buy-In to International Emergency Response Mechanism

Failed Emergency Response and Corruption Exposure from Deficient Planning

Protecting Lives and Property during Emergency Response



Contract Completion and Audit

Fundamentals of Contract Completion

Contractor Performance Evaluations

Fundamentals of Contract Auditing

Deficient Performance Evaluations and Audits Perpetuate Failure

Utility of Effective Contractor Performance Evaluation

Contributions of Effective Contract Auditing

Benefits of Effective Records Retention, Performance Evaluation, and Contract Auditing

Promises and Perils Following Completion of Contractor’s Responsibilities



Appendix: Glossary of Terms

About the Originator


About the Series

ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy

Founded in 1939, the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) is the premier professional organization for public administration, dedicated to advancing its art, science, teaching and practice. The ASPA book series provides expert information on a range of public administration issues, each authored by a leader in the field. Series Editor David Rosenbloom is Distinguished Professor of Public Administration in the School of Public Affairs at American University, USA.

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