Letter to the editor
Several points are expressed about the government's negative opinion of
outsourcing and lack of skill at contract management in a conversation between
Steve Kelman and an "IT industry insider" in Kelman's March 4 column, "The Enron effect."
My impression is that the remedies offered by Kelman are based on a
perspective that obviously ended with his federal position in 1997, and
that he is certainly out of the loop.
As a quality manager for one of the biggest contractors to government,
I see an increase in requests for proposals that require compliance to specific
performance levels and standards. I would say that the government is educating
its information technology contract managers about effective ways to secure
quality performance from contractors. Our contracts frequently entail service
level agreements with clear, measurable objectives that reward acceptable
performance. Why didn't he mention this trend?
Similarly, I wonder about the "IT industry insider" who says that IT
companies need defensive strategies to shore up integrity to compete successfully
in this new threatening climate to end outsourcing. It's time to end the
kind of attitude that further enhances the sense of "them" and "us."
Contract management of contract performance is not rocket science! It
starts with clear customer requirements, a solid approach to the delivery
of those requirements and meaningful measures of performance that are aligned
with the quality service objectives. It takes planning, firm execution and
a continual measurement of results and corrective action to further refine
service outcomes. It just makes good business sense!
Why has this eluded government and contractors? I suggest that we look
to standards, such as ISO 9001, that require an organization to demonstrate
that it can meet customer requirements. Look at the list of ISO-registered
organizations. Government entities, including NASA, and IT contractors have
both elected to implement the ISO standard as a way to manage effectively,
and this trend is growing, Mr. Kelman.
Name withheld upon request