Cathy Kirkaldy on
Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 09:45 am:
I am a contracting professional with a transportation agency
in the Midwest. Our agency has awarded a FFP contract for
project management consulting services. In the contract it
appears that our scope of work is very vague and sometimes not
able to be interpreted. My question is: How would you determine
what changes are in scope or out of scope? Are there any clear
questions that you can ask yourself or others to make this
determination? Such as would you ask :
Was the PMC aware of the risk when developing their proposal?
Does the origin of the change stem from contract language?
Is there a significant change in the nature or scope of work?
Are the consultant's services significantly expanded or
I ask this question because we need to develop a clear
understanding when we determine if a change is in scope or out
of scope. Thanking you in advance for all comments
bob antonio on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 12:22 pm:
In 1989, I did a major review of the federal government's
civilian agency contracts. For every contract, we looked to see
if the work had been done. To do that, we had to determine what
work was actually expected when the statement of work was
written. There were several cases where the statement of work
was so vague that the requiring office could not explain what
they were trying to acquire. In those cases, we could not decide
what was beyond the original intent of the contract because we
could not determine what the original intent was.
That sounds like your predicament. However, in the federal
contracts I am talking about the contracts were cost plus
fixed-fee contracts. This eased the business problems that a
firm-fixed price contract with a vague statement of work would
Since the courts will hold that the writer of a statement of
work bears the responsibility for its clarity, you are on the
I would try to identify, accumulate, and deciper the surrounding
facts at the time of the meeting of the minds for the
procurement. That would be around the date of agreement and not
subsequently--unless things were changed informally since then.
Here are some things I would do:
1) go back to the original statement of work that your requiring
activity wrote and try to identify any clarifying documents that
would add to their intent.
2) if your solicitation and award process provided an
opportunity for a public question and answer session between the
requiring activity and offerors about the statement of work, I
would look for any written documentation or tapes of that
3) I would look at the contractor's proposal to see what it
believed it was selling. If your lucky, maybe there was some
pricing information that would support the actual work they
thought they were to do.
I have provided access to a number of tools for writing
statements of work on a section of the "Guidance" page to this
site. I think it is called "Planning and Performance Statements
of Work." The federal government has spent a lot of effort
trying to improve the way it tells offerors what it wants. These
things are fairly generic and should help your organization in
on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 12:25 pm:
I've always used the premise that if something was reasonably
anticipated by both parties at the time of award, it probably
(but not always) is within scope. For example, if I have a
contract for a consultant to provide facilitiation and support
services during an A-76 cost study I could reasonably determine
that a delivery order for an activity based cost model for the
current operation under study was within the contract scope. On
the other hand, I do not think it would be reasonable to write a
delivery order to provide all computer hardware and software for
use by the competitive sourcing office.
formerfed on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 01:32 pm:
Nothing precludes rewriting the SOW with the contractor. Use the
tools Bob suggests for help. Just a suggestion.
on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 06:07 pm:
A FFP for a consulting contract doesn't compute for me. Is this
perchance a fixed price per labor hour contract?
bob antonio on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 07:13 pm:
I thought that might be the case too. Welcome back.