The Responsible Contract Manager: Protecting the Public Interest in an Outsourced World

The Responsible Contract Manager: Protecting the Public Interest in an Outsourced World

The Responsible Contract Manager: Protecting the Public Interest in an Outsourced World

The Responsible Contract Manager: Protecting the Public Interest in an Outsourced World

Synopsis

Contract management is a critical skill for all contemporary public managers. As more government duties are contracted out, managers must learn to coordinate and measure the performance of private contractors, and to write contract requirements and elicit bids that obtain important services and products at the best possible price and quality. They must also learn to work in teams that include both public and private sector partners.

The Responsible Contract Manager delves into the issues of how to ensure that the work done by private sector contractors serves the public interest and argues for the necessity of making these organizations act as extensions of the public sector while maintaining their private character. Government contract managers have a unique burden because they must develop practices that ensure the production advantages of networked organizations and the transparency and accountability required of the public sector.

The Responsible Contract Manager fills a major gap in public management literature by providing a clear and practical introduction to the best practices of contract management and also includes a discussion of public ethics, governance and representation theory. It is an essential guide for all public management scholars and is especially useful for students in MPA graduate programs and related fields.

Excerpt

Contract management is a critical skill for all contemporary public managers. Managers must learn how to write contract requirements and elicit bids that obtain important services and products at the best possible price and quality. They must learn to work with, manage, and measure the performance of these outside private and nonprofit organizations. This two-way sharing of information is essential to decision making in a networked organizational environment. Managers must also learn how to participate in teams that include both public and private sector partners. In addition, students and practitioners of public administration must place these new management practices in the broader context of representation theory and public ethics. What is the effect of this new public sector on representative democracy? How do we guard against corruption and other potential violations of public trust?

In earlier works we have discussed a variety of mechanisms or tools a manager uses to influence internal organizational behavior and to position the organization in its environment. In this respect, the boundary of the organization is sharply defined. One can tell what is inside the organization and what is outside. The internal dynamics of the organization have the most proximate influence over the organization's work processes and outputs. The organization's environment (along with organizational factors) influence organizational inputs (such as resources) and outcomes. Even when examining change-oriented tools we term “tools for innovators,” this boundary between the organization and its environment continues to hold. However, when production is a function of a number of organizations linked together in a network, much of the organization's work is produced outside the organization. Some of this work is produced through informal agreements and a shared mission, and some of this work is the result of a formal, contractual relationship. This book focuses on the formal aspect of the relationship between organizations in a network, the contractual relationship.

The need for information about the organization's environment and internal production capacity remains, but the complexity of the information . . .

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