Sneak Preview: Attorney Emphasizes Post-procurement Oversight
(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) As nonfederal entities develop or review their procurement policies, they should remember that these policies should not only include requirements for proposal requests to ensure adequate competition, but should also address post-procurement oversight and documentation responsibilities as well, a Maryland-based attorney told attendees at the recent Maryland Governor’s Grants Conference.
Speaking to various state and local officials at the conference, Donald Walsh, Esq., partner with Wright, Constable and Skeen LLP, said that procurement administration often is overlooked by grant recipients and “is the most difficult part” when developing their purchasing policies. “Getting that [procurement] contract and getting [the contractor] in the door is only half the battle,” he said. Grant recipients may assume that they can simply trust the contractor to perform the service or provide the product. “That’s where it becomes a problem. You need to have some sort of system in place to monitor and make sure your contracts are being followed, whether it’s through monthly reports, quarterly reports or your outreach to that contractor on a surprise basis to see if they are doing what they said they would. You don’t just want to write checks; you want to make sure your contract is being fulfilled appropriately.”
Appropriate monitoring of procurement contracts can help a nonfederal entity determine if the product or service was being provided as expected, and if not, provide information to enable the entity to adjust its purchasing policies for future procurements. Walsh said that one of the biggest problems he’s seen is when a grantee finds out that a contractor has not been performing appropriately after the contractor has received all of its payment from the grantee. “If you proactively ensure that the contractor does the work it said it was going to do, and have policies and procedures in place to document it, and check the boxes as you’re going along, you’ll have a much better shot at ensuring you have the right procurement along the way,” Walsh noted.
To this point, Walsh urged recipients not to wait until the end of the contract before assessing the work. “Don’t wait until the 11th month and then wonder why you’re not getting the reports [your contractors] were supposed to send you,” he urged. “You need to make sure you are on top of them during the entire process to get what you want and what you paid for.”
Walsh also explained that an entity’s procurement policy should have sufficient detail as to how it should make procurements.
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