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Contract Management for Government: 6 Pitfalls Leaders Need to Avoid

Sarah Fixel, Solutions Director, State and Local Government
October 18, 2023

In the complex world of government procurement, effective contract management is crucial. State and local governments rely on contracts to acquire goods and services. The proper management of these agreements is essential to ensure taxpayer funds are used efficiently and effectively. 

[ Watch the on-demand webinar, Simplifying Government Procurement, for actionable advice on procurement modernization in state and local government. ]

However, navigating the intricacies of contract management for government can be challenging, and contract specialists should be aware of common pitfalls that can lead to costly mistakes. We'll explore some of the most significant pitfalls that contract management professionals should avoid.

1. Insufficient planning.

One of the most common mistakes in government contract management is insufficient planning. Rushing into a contract without a well-thought-out plan can lead to numerous issues down the road.

How to improve planning.

Before entering into any contract, it's crucial to conduct thorough market research, define your objectives, and establish clear performance metrics. Proper planning will help you identify potential risks, set realistic expectations for the contract's outcome, and improve contract performance. 

The Appian Requirements Management application for state and local government agencies uses wizards and automated checklists to guide you through the process, helping you quickly build complete requirements packages. Integrated, intelligent document editing creates documents that comply with agency policies and regulations.

2. Inadequate due diligence.

Government agencies often face pressure to expedite procurement processes. In the interest of time, they may be tempted to forego thorough vendor evaluations. The risk, though, is awarding contracts to unreliable or financially unstable vendors. 

How to improve due diligence.

Conduct comprehensive due diligence of potential vendors, including background checks, financial assessments, and reference checks, to ensure the selected vendor is a trustworthy and capable partner. This will save time in the long run by avoiding missing deadlines or receiving inferior goods and services. 

Appian Vendor Management gives you a single place to communicate with vendors and our Evaluation Management application consolidates all vendor-related data and documents, simplifying vendor evaluation.

[ Learn how next-generation government procurement technology helps you minimize risk. Get the whitepaper. ]

3. Ambiguous contract terms.

Ambiguity in contract terms is a recipe for disputes and misunderstandings. Vague language or poorly defined expectations can lead to disagreements over deliverables, timelines, and responsibilities.

How to write clearer contracts.

To mitigate this risk, contract documents should be meticulously drafted, with precise language and definitions. Legal counsel should review contracts to ensure that they are clear, concise, and legally sound. An eProcurement solution that automates terms and conditions selection helps reduce errors and risk.

4. Inadequate performance monitoring

Contractual risks are inherent in government procurement, and failing to manage them effectively can lead to financial losses and project delays. Once a contract is in place, many government agencies make the mistake of neglecting proper performance monitoring. Regularly evaluating vendor performance is essential to ensure that they are meeting their obligations.

How to keep vendors on track.

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism to track progress. Timely intervention can help address issues before they become major problems. And contingency plans should be in place to address potential issues, such as vendor non-performance or unexpected changes in project scope.  

The Appian Contract Management application provides automated notifications and role-based dashboards that include the ability to view tasks by due date to make sure your procurement dates don’t slip.

5. Lack of transparency.

Transparency is critical in contract management for government. The public has a right to know how taxpayer funds are being spent, and a lack of transparency can erode constituent trust. What’s more, transparency among all internal stakeholders eliminates duplicate work and keeps everyone on track.

How to increase transparency.

Having a single, integrated eProcurement solution will enable all stakeholders to view the progress of the procurement in real time. Share with the public relevant information about contract awards, modifications, and performance. 

The Appian Evaluation Management solution for state and local government provides an auditable record of evaluation activity, showing your constituents and competing vendors that your evaluation process is fair. A transparent scoring and consensus process helps avoid protests that can slow down your project. And the secure, role-based evaluation setup ensures confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

6. Neglecting compliance.

Government contracts are subject to numerous laws and regulations, and non-compliance can result in legal and financial consequences.

How to ensure compliance.

Staying informed about all relevant rules and regulations to ensure contract compliance is no easy feat. Regular compliance audits and reviews can help identify and rectify potential violations. Using eProcurement software that automatically selects the most appropriate regulations, like Appian’s Terms & Conditions application, will help ensure compliance.

The crucial role of effective contract management for government.

Effective contract management in government procurement ensures that taxpayer funds are used efficiently, contracts are executed as intended, and vendors meet their obligations. Contract management software that spans the entire contract management process, from requisition through contract closeout, helps prevent contract disputes, promote transparency, uphold accountability in the public sector, and safeguard the public interest by ensuring the acquisition of the right goods and services at the right cost. 

Learn more about the Appian eProcurement suite of solutions that help achieve contract lifecycle management success at state and local government organizations.