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How to Optimize Your Company’s Technical Team on Labor Contracts

As the Government Fiscal Year comes to a close, many new contract awards will be issued and option periods exercised. One way to optimize your Technical (aka Direct Labor) Team for each Government Services Contract: Hold an Internal Contracts Kick-Off meeting upon award or Option Period Kick-Off (if applicable).

Prior to the meeting, establish a company-wide calendar if there isn’t one already. On the company-wide calendar, include company meetings, events, Executive vacations; and depending on company-size, work anniversaries, birthdays, and all employee vacations. Encourage employees to access the calendar at home, especially if they are unable to access it on-site. This communicates to the Technical Team that they are vital and respected by ensuring that they are kept abreast of company schedules and activities. It also reinforces to each employee that he/she works for the company, not for the Government, a concern I hear frequently. In addition, develop a contract-specific calendar. This should include deliverable due dates (e.g. monthly reports, milestones, etc.), meetings, and vacation schedules. Use both calendars as reference tools.

The Kick-Off meeting will need to be customized depending on the type of work, experience of the personnel, and security requirements. Below are some suggestions.

  • Include the Direct Labor (Technical) Team, Executives, HR, Accounting/Finance Operations, Contracts, Administrative Assistant, Security Officer (if applicable) and if a new award, the Proposal Team.

Topics to discuss

  • Is it a Time and Materials (T&M), Cost-Plus (CP), Firm Fixed Price (FFP) or hybrid contract? Is there an Award Fee? Does each employee understand the significance of the type of contract? How does it affect each person’s role (e.g. HR, Technical Team, Finance/Accounting)?
  • What is the Scope of the Contract? What should an employee do if he/she is asked to perform outside the scope? Could this lead to other potential opportunities?
  • What are the deliverables? Who is responsible? What is the back-up plan if someone is out unexpectedly?
  • Who reviews the invoice, if anyone, other than accounting (e.g. Program Manager, Contracts Administrator)? What are the contract and/or company deadlines for submitting the invoice?
  • How will the success of the contract be assessed in terms of a Technical and Business (i.e. profit) perspective? Will this information be shared with the Technical Team?
  • If the contract is FFP, will an Estimate-To-Complete be prepared? If so, how often?

These questions are meant as a starting point and should be tailored to your company, contract, employees, and processes. In order to best utilize each person’s experiences and ideas, an open dialogue is encouraged.

A Kick-Off meeting should be held for every new service contract award including re-compete awards, (There will generally be at least some differences between contracts even if the work is almost identical.) Kick-Off meetings can be beneficial for Option Years as well to reinforce the positive trends, focus on improvements, and minimize any negative issues.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous (Government Fiscal) New Year!