Michael P. Fischetti, Executive Director of the National Contract Management Association, wrote an interesting article that asked the question — Contracting Officers: The Weakest Link?
He essentially argued that since COs have top-level authority and wide latitude in acquisition success, they should be to blame for bad projects. But only to the extent that they are really just a link in a larger process with other team members all with additional senior level oversight.
I couldn’t agree more. But, my perspective is from that of the Program or Project Manager, who I believe can help reel in the acquisition process, especially with regard to schedule. PMs need to approach COs and get them to document their inputs and outputs that define the procurement activities in the master schedule of any program.
Too often, PMs do not really start managing until award or they blame “contracting” for delays to their project starts. Many times, PMs fail to achieve buy-in from the contracting staff activities on the master schedule, and then track and report any procurement delays in real time.
When a project schedule starts at project inception, and includes the procurement phase activities before award, a project is most successful. And if contracting is to blame for a delayed award, all stakeholders can look back to see where in the schedule the problems occurred and then make necessary corrective actions in conjunction with contracting team for the next program.