Letter: Educating agency staff better than limiting award fees

Regarding "EPA IG wants fewer cost-plus contract," a reader writes: If the [inspector general] believes that the award fees being earned are too high, the solution is not to limit the number of award fee contracts. The solution is to educate the agency staff on how to write an award fee determination plan, how to develop meaningful metrics, how to set performance standards and how to do the required monitoring.

Having been the [contracting officer's technical representative] on an award fee contract, the hardest part of the job was getting the performance monitors to record the observations on a monthly basis so that when the award fee board comes around, you have meaningful input that can be given to board members so they can come to an accurate evaluation. I've seen other award fee plans that are 100 percent objective but where the measures don't tell the agency what they need to know and certainly don't leave room for the "happy factor." The vendor can meet all of the objective measures but still leave the client dissatisfied.

Agencies also need to recognize the culture change when moving from a level of effort contract to an award fee contract and train their staff for it before the contract starts. A well written/run award fee contract gives the vendor some award fee for meeting the standards but only gives the the majority of the fee when they go above and beyond.

Trish

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