Launching the ship without a captain
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Launching the Ship Without a Captain. Presented by Betsy Bratton, CPPB, VCO Lead Contract Specialist Department of Motor Vehicles. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES. Learn to navigate the process between contract award and contract execution to achieve a successful contract.

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Launching the Ship Without a Captain

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Launching the Ship Without a Captain

Presented by

Betsy Bratton, CPPB, VCO

Lead Contract Specialist

Department of Motor Vehicles


  • Learn to navigate the process between contract award and contract execution to achieve a successful contract.

    • Identify the features of a successful contract.

    • Discuss common problems and obstacles that cause a contract to be unsuccessful.

    • Discuss key post-contract award activities that, when completed, result in more successful contracts.

What comes to mind when you hear “A Ship Without a Captain?”

  • A lack of leadership

  • A lack of direction

  • Veering off course

A ship - and a contract - need:

  • A good captain

    • contract administrator

  • A dedicated crew

    • contract administration team

  • A charted course

    • comprehensive contract document and

    • a qualified vendor to perform it

  • What does a successful contract look like? What is our goal?

    A successful contract is a contract that gets completed:

    • On time (schedule)

    • According to specifications and

    • Within budget

    Examples of Success:

    On Schedule:

    • On-time delivery (critical equipment)

    • On-time implementation (new program or system)

    • On-time repair (minimal downtime of equipment)

    Examples of Success:

    According to Specifications:

    • Right quantity and quality of goods and services

    • Functions / performs as planned and promised

    • No errors during testing

    • No “scope creep”

    Examples of Success:

    Within Budget:

    • Completed without any major changes or mods

    • Completed at or under budget

    • Cost containment (for cost-type contracts)

    • No Contractor claims

    How can we complete more of our contracts successfully?

    Keys to success:

    • Activities that need to occur immediately following award of the contract.

    • Effective Contract Management

      • The Contract Officer’s part

      • The Contract Administrator’s part

      • The Contractor’s part

    Key Post-Contract Award Activities:

    • Assignment of Contract Administrator (CA)

    • Transfer Leadership Responsibility to CA

    • Internal Discussions with Contract Admin Team

    • Start-Up / Kickoff Meeting with Contractor

    Find a Captain:

    Assignment of Contract Administrator

    • Qualified; can lead others; cares about the outcome

    • End user or person with vested interest

    • Should be involved from the beginning of the procurement process

    • Written delegation:

      • Specific tasks and timelines

      • Can do’s and Can’t do’s

    What is a Captain?

    The captain of a merchant vessel is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies. All persons on board, including officers and crew, are under the captain's authority and ultimate responsibility.

    Commission the Captain:

    Transfer Leadership Responsibility to the Contract Administrator (CA)

    • Contract Officer’s leadership role is reduced

    • CA assumes primary responsibility for the team leadership role

    Train The Crew:

    Internal Discussions with Contract Admin Team

    • Kickoff meeting (more than one meeting may be required)

    • Contract Administrator leads these discussions

      • Review RFP/IFB and all addenda and winning bid / proposal

      • Develop Contract Admin Plan (CAP)

      • Review/develop Risk Monitoring Plan

      • Discuss Contract Monitoring / Surveillance Plan

    Train the Crew (cont’d)

    Internal Discussions with Contract Admin Team (cont’d)

    • Spend time talking about communications

      • What is the internal communication structure for your team?

      • How will you communicate with the vendor?

      • What will be your problem resolution model?

    • Plan agenda for start-up meeting with Contractor

    Chart Your Course:

    Start-up Meeting with the Contractor

    • Purpose: Build Relationships, Establish Partnership

    • Attendees: Contractor, subcontractor, contract admin team

      • Exchange contact information.

      • Discuss critical dates, watch-list items, admin processes

      • Discuss procedures and plans (risk management, quality assurance plan)

      • Discuss reporting requirements

      • Conduct walk-through of site

    Launch Your Ship:

    Administer and Manage the Contract

    • Once the contract has started, several key activities will begin.

      • Risk Monitoring and Control

      • Contract Monitoring and Surveillance

      • Reporting Methods and Frequency

    Launch Your Ship (cont’d)

    Administer and Manage the Contract (cont’d)

    • It is the Contract Administrator’s responsibility to ensure:

      • Reports are being submitted timely

      • Verification of performance is occurring

      • Milestones are being met

    • A lack of proper monitoring will have a negative effect on the enforcement of the contract.


    After you:

    • Find a Captain

    • Commission Your Captain

    • Train Your Crew, and

    • Chart Your Course

      Then you:

    • Can effectively sail your ship, and

    • Arrive safety at your destination.

    Here’s to Smooth Sailing and Safe Voyages!

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