Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators
eBook - ePub

Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators

Legette McIntyre

Share book
  1. 394 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators

Legette McIntyre

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Learn to negotiate by applying business-savvy negotiation strategies and tactics, anticipating and countering the other side's strategies and tactics, and concluding and documenting the negotiation successfully. Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators focuses on the distinctive aspects of government negotiations, helping you hold your own in an actual, sit-down negotiation session with a skilled counterpart. With this book you will learn to:
• Select and apply negotiation skills in a government-unique environment to achieve a true-best value result
• Develop a negotiation plan, including your BATNA
• Recognize less-than-ethical tactics and be prepared to counter them
• Properly conclude and document the negotiation
• Use acquisition histories to gather appropriate data
• Manage challenges
Facilitate better negotiation outcomes

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Essentials for Government Contract Negotiators by Legette McIntyre in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Negocios y empresa & Inversiones y valores. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.



Part One

Getting Started

Chapter 1. Overview of Federal Government Negotiations
Chapter 2. Negotiation Opportunities—More Than You Think!

Chapter 1

Overview of Federal Government Negotiations

It’s long been the policy of the federal government to satisfy its requirements for supplies and services as much as possible from the commercial marketplace. Accordingly, the government spends more than $200 billion each and every year buying the stuff it needs from contractors. Whole industries have sprung up to service the federal government as a customer. It’s also federal government policy to buy these supplies and services at fair and reasonable prices, so the government relies on smart folks to negotiate business-savvy deals with private industry. Although almost everyone who comes in contact with a government contractor may find themselves in a negotiation situation, highly trained contracting officers (COs) and contract negotiators bear the brunt of this effort. That’s what this book will focus on—you as the professional government negotiator.
In your position as a government negotiator, you not only represent your particular agency and office, but you represent the entire federal government and every American taxpayer. That’s an awesome responsibility. So what exactly gives you this authority?
Although the government’s authority to enter into contracts is loosely derived from the Constitution, your authority to negotiate on behalf of the American people ultimately comes from the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States. Congress, of course, controls the purse strings of our government and is responsible for passing laws directing how the federal government spends its money. These laws, along with precedents derived from court decisions, executive orders, and so forth, have been summed up and put into one regulation: the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). You are bound by law to follow this regulation when you negotiate. The President is responsible for appointing the heads of each federal agency, and the FAR gives agency heads the responsibility and unlimited authority to enter into contractual relationships to support their agencies.
But think about this. The agency head for the Department of Defense is the Secretary of Defense, for example. Now, do you really think the Secretary of Defense has the time to negotiate personally every supply and service the Department of Defense needs on a daily basis? Of course not! This person, as soon as they are appointed by the President, immediately delegates this authority in writing down to the agency senior procurement executive. This person, in turn, further delegates down the chain in writing to the heads of the major departments in the agency. Those folks do the same, and on and on, until this authority to contract is pushed down all the way to the CO.
Now, the COs may be, in turn, supported by other team members like contract specialists and price analysts (who may have authority to negotiate), but only a CO, acting in the scope of his or her authority, can obligate—or bind—the government. The limits of authority are spelled out in writing right on the CO’s warrant. The warrant is a piece of paper that must be permanently displayed.
So, that’s how you, the CO, obtain the authority to negotiate and bind the government as a result of those negotiations. It’s an unbroken, written chain that starts with the President. But, remember those laws? Remember the FAR? The FAR spells out how you are to go about your business: what you must do, what you can do, and what you can’t do. The FAR also lays out in general terms what you must strive for in every negotiation. First and foremost, you must uphold the goals of the federal acquisition system and your responsibilities as a CO, so let’s take a look at them.


Your first goal, quite simply, is to get your customers what they need. Negotiation isn’t an end in itself. Always remember you are negotiating to satisfy your customer’s needs in terms of cost, timeliness, and quality. Remember also that your ultimate customer is the American taxpayer. Unlike your industry counterparts, which we’ll discuss later, you must also comply with and make sure that all requirements of law, executive orders, regulations, and all other applicable procedures (like clearances and approvals) are upheld. Folks, that’s a tall order! For instance, there are laws supporting federal socioeconomic programs that you must abide by, even at the sacrifice (sometimes) of cost and timeliness.
Do you think the government expects its negotiators—its representatives—to uphold the highest ethical standards? You bet. And there are laws about that too. This is one of the disadvantages you have as a federal negotiator. Unlike your industry counterparts, you are sometimes bound to sacrifice the best deal you could negotiate, from a pure price standpoint, to support the “law of the land.” The FAR also precludes you from taking advantage of a contractor who has made a mistake or grossly underpriced his offer. You can’t be silent, let the mistake become binding, and then do “high fives” about how you “killed the contractor in negotiations.” You are bound to be fair and reasonable to both sides.
The government expects its negotiators to treat contractors—your counterparts in negotiation—fairly, impartially, and equitably. Do you really think this is a prime goal when private companies negotiate with each other? But, you are held to this. And, if you think about the big picture, it makes sense. To survive as a government, we need a robust private sector on which to draw for things we need. We decrease this by being unfair, partial, and inequitable when we deal with industry. We are not in the business of putting businesses out of business!
In addition, if you treat a contractor unfairly, what are the chances of that contractor ever wanting to do business with the federal government again? Word of your unfair treatment could also spread, and soon whole sectors of contractors may pull out of doing federal business. What would that do to competition? How would that satisfy your customer? So treat your contractors fairly. It’s the right thing to do—and it’s the law.
Hand in hand with the concept of fairness is your requirement to negotiate in good faith. Negotiating in good faith means that you must have an honest desire to reach agreement on differences through compromise and that you are not trying to take unfair advantage of the other party. Leading a contractor on in negotiations by implying you have funds available to consummate the deal, when in fact you know you don’t, is an example of negotiating in bad faith. In this case, at the very least, you have caused the contractor to expend time, energy, effort, and money to no good purpose, which is not fair to the contractor. Your ultimate goal, the result of your negotiation, should be an agreement that is fair and reasonable to both parties.
Now, let’s contrast your goals with the goals of your counterparts in industry.


So what do your counterparts, industry negotiators, want to get out of negotiations? Are they bound to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable to both parties? Do you think they are under the same requirements to comply with all the laws and regulations to which you are bound? Absolutely not! Their primary goal, if they are a corporation, is to maximize shareholder wealth. (If they are a sole proprietorship, their goal is to maximize the owner’s wealth.) They usually have certain profit objectives (or goals) given to them by management to attain for each negotiation. These goals usually, in turn, link back to the company’s overall profit objectives. Sometimes these objectives are a certain dollar amount for profit; sometimes they are a percentage. As a representative of the government, you will probably not know these objectives.
Sometimes these negotiators may have other company goals they have been told to strive for that, on the surface, don’t seem directly tied to profit objectives. An example is strategic placement. In other words, by winning this particular contract, the company will strategically place itself ahead of its competition for capturing future business along certain lines. They may also want the prestige and exposure that being a prime contractor on an important government contract can bring. This usually positively affects their commercial sales, and ultimately their profit. Winning a large government contract can also increase their standing among companies that are in the business of rating other companies, like Moody’s or Standard and Poor’s. Higher ratings, in turn, give them access to more ways to capitalize. More creditors are willing to lend them money, allow them to float bonds, underwrite stock issues, and give them breaks on interest rates.
Companies may also have a goal to capture a contract to keep up the general volume of their business. Contractors have overhead, right? They must continue to pay this overhead regardless of whether they have any business in-house at any given time. They need a certain level of business income to pay these overhead costs, to ride out the lean times, and possibly to prevent costly “idle” situations. I’ve known contractors to go into barely break-even contracts just to have enough business volume to keep paying everyone.
But don’t be fooled! All these “other company goals” have an effect on the bottom line: They all will relate in some way back to the first two prime goals of every business: to maximize wealth and to meet profit goals. Don’t let yourself be misled by a company negotiator that says, for example, “At the prices we’re proposing, we’re really losing our shirts on this deal, but we don’t mind because __________.” They can provide any number of other company goals to fill in the blank, and they’ll make it sound convincing. But rest assured, every company is in business to make a profit. You may have to be a fair and reasonable negotiator to both sides, but they don’t. I’m sure company negotiators would be more than happy with what they considered a win–win result, but they are usually just as satisfied with a win–lose result, as long as they are on the win side of the equation. Only by understanding this can you properly prepare for negotiations.

Chapter 2

Negotiation Opportunities—More Than You Think!

Commonly, the average person on the street (and many government folks, too) sees government negotiations as relating to the source selection process—the way we award a contract in competitive situations. This is a well-defined and well-trained process with specific steps: development of evaluation factors, exchanges with offerors, request for proposal (RFP) preparation, proposal analysis, price analysis, cost analysis, competitive range determination, and so forth. There are already many good books, training courses, seminars, and other forms of guidance that cover this material well. Rather, this book concentrates on how to be successful in negotiations. We’ll concentrate on learning negotiation skills that can be valuable to you not just in source selection, not just in discussions, but in any negotiation situation.


The need for professional negotiation skills has increased in recent years. When Congress passed the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) in 1994, it represented a sea change in the way the government conducts its contracting business. Before then, concepts such as best value and performance based were rarely heard of, much less used. Everything was, basically, a price shootout.
The government would dictate the requirements, step by step, to the contractor and they would simply price the solution we dictated to them, with the best price winning. Negotiations were relatively simple then. Because we dictated the technical approach to the competing contractors, in true read-a-step, do-a-step, geta-banana fashion, all the proposed technical solutions looked the same—no innovative approaches were allowed. Price was pretty much the only thing left to negotiate. COs back then were more or less simply procurement clerks or technicians who followed a rigid, predictable process that churned out a contract award.
FASA changed all that. Things are a lot less formal and a lot less process driven now. What’s important today is not how well you can follow some rigid procedure, but how well you can make a commonsense good business deal. And, as you’ll see, moving from “lowest price wins” to “best value” and from “dictated specifications” to “performance based” has made negotiation skills more important than ever.

Best Value

Instead of awarding contracts based on the contractor who could give the best price while meeting the minimum requirements, the FAR now dictates that every contract award must be based on best value. Best value is simply picking the contractor based on the overall benefit—the best value—to the government, price and other factors considered.
Although it’s true that sometimes price alone is still the best determinant of best value, now we can look at other things, such as past performance, and factor them into the award decision. We can look at the contractor’s technical approach to solving the problem and many other nonprice factors, such as résumés of key personnel, to help pick the “right” contractor. We simply have to state what the evaluation factors are going to be when we go out with our solicitation. When the proposals come in, we can now trade off technical superiority against price. In other words, we can now award to other than the low-priced contractor, if the technical superiority of their solution merits it, as long as we can justify spending the extra bucks to get the extra bang.
This is great news for your customers, but it complicates your job as a CO and a negotiator. No longer is price the only thing to be negotiated. Rarely will the contractor’s idea of best value—the mix of price and technical factors they submit with their proposal—be your idea of best value. The mix often has to be negotiated, and this can get complicated. You now are not only negotiating price, but other things such as warranty terms, level of effort, delivery dates, level of government involvement, validity and chance of success of various technical approaches, and so forth. And you have to balance all these factors ultimately against price. How can you ensure best value if you’re not trained in how to negotiate to it?


Instead of dictating the specifications (the process to solve the problem) to contractors, we now simply state what we need in terms of outputs and invite them to come up with the process to solve the problem. This is performance-based contracting. As the government moved away from writing its own specifications and moved toward having the contractors propose the solutions, it unleashed the incredible innovative power of the private sector. Industry has come up with creative solutions to our problems that we never could have dreamed of on our own. After all, they’re usually the experts, not us!
Again, that’s great for your customers and the taxpayers, but it greatly increases the difficulty you’ll face in proposal analysis and, ultimately, in negotiations. When the proposals come in, you can no longer do an apples-to-apples comparison, because all the proposed technical solutions can be vastly different, and they come with different price tags.
One company, for instance, may propose to satisfy our needs by relying heavily on manual labor, whereas another contractor’s proposal may rely on automation and technology. Both proposals can meet our needs; they just have different ways of getting to the end result. Because each proposal can be substantially different, you now have to have separate negotiation pl...

Table of contents