MAIL BAG: HOW WELL DO YOUR TASK ORDERS MATCH YOUR CONTRACT?
Alert reader K. Cousins, now of Minneapolis, writes, “Our company won a government contract for professional services several months ago. A recent task order, though, bears little resemblance to the original deal. Our customer and sales team says ‘Let’s go’. Should I be concerned.?” It’s not uncommon for the government to ask for a solution one way and then actually buy it sliced some other way, K. It’s a little like asking for your sandwich to be cut down the middle and then revising your order for a horizontal cut. A sandwich is still a sandwich, but if that sandwich suddenly looks like a burrito, it could become an issue, regardless of what the customer says. Your company needs to make sure that the work performed is within the scope of the original award and that you can provide a clear, easy to follow crosswalk for any requested work that isn’t laid out according to the original award documents. Too many companies just go with the flow, only to find themselves in serious trouble later. Non-conforming invoices may not be paid. Over-charging may be alleged, as may out of scope work. Remember: the contracting officer is the only person who can change the terms of your contract. If the crosswalk between task order and contract isn’t clear to you, don’t proceed until it is. As with dirty dishes, trying to clean up a mess well after it’s happened can be a tough task – and, like your teenage children – your customer won’t be around to help you clean up. Make sure your work stays within scope and reasonably matches with the work you were originally awarded.