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Complex Contracting

Complex Contracting
Government Purchasing in the Wake of the US Coast Guard's Deepwater Program


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  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107038622

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About the Authors
  • Complex Contracting draws on core social science concepts to provide wide-ranging practical advice on how best to manage complex acquisitions. Using a strong analytical framework, the authors assess contract management practices, suggesting strategies for improvement and ways to avoid the pitfalls of managing contracts for large and sophisticated projects. An in-depth analysis of the US Coast Guard's Deepwater program is included to illustrate ways to respond to real-world contracting challenges. This high-profile and controversial case consisted of a projected 25-year, $24 billion contract through which the US Coast Guard would buy a system of new boats, aircraft, communications, and control architecture to replace its aging fleet. The authors explore the reasons why this program, launched with such promise, turned out so poorly, and apply the lessons learned to similarly complex contracting scenarios. This engaging and accessible book has broad applicability and will appeal to policymakers, practitioners, scholars and students.

    • Deploys core social science concepts – collective action, governance, transaction costs – to offer practical advice on how best to manage contracts for complex projects
    • Discusses the US Coast Guard's Deepwater program, a vivid and engaging case which ended in a maelstrom of controversy, and applies the lessons learned to similarly complex contracting scenarios
    • Written in an accessible style, making it suitable for a range of readers including policymakers, practitioners, scholars and students
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    • Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, American Society for Public Administration, Section on Public Administration Research

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this book, the authors bring a fresh, yet sophisticated analytical approach to the challenges that the government faces when entering into high-value, complex contracts. They explore the difficult issues without bias, neither bashing nor coddling either the government or the contracting community. Senior procurement executives and program managers, from defense and civilian agencies, from the public and the private sector, and from the US and other countries, will all benefit by studying and reflecting on the analysis and advice set out in this thoughtful book.' Daniel I. Gordon, Associate Dean for Government Procurement Law, George Washington University Law School and President Obama's Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy (2009–2011)

    'Our experience with public sector contracting for complex products and services suggests that we are still in the steep portion of the learning curve on how to do this well. Complex Contracting makes major contributions in this regard, both through providing an accessible conceptual framework for approaching challenging contract situations, as well as in illustrating how key principles in contracting operate in practice and over time as the respective parties work to achieve desired outcomes. The book is written brilliantly to engage both academics and practitioners in the thorny issues of risk, commitment, unforeseen contingencies and renegotiation, monitoring and management, incentives and more, while drawing out invaluable insights that can be applied broadly across a range of public sector contracting activities.' Carolyn J. Heinrich, Sid Richardson Professor of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin

    'With this work, Professors Brown, Potoski and Van Slyke have formulated an insightful view into the challenges and opportunities of complex contracting. The focus is on a large scale, complex acquisition program managed by a federal agency, but provides guidelines applicable to any program in the public or private sectors - particularly for those who seek to do business with or for the federal government and the necessity to get it right.' Sean O'Keefe, Chief Executive, EADS North America, Secretary of the Navy, and Chief Financial Officer, Department of Defense

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107038622
    • length: 268 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword Stan Soloway
    1. Introduction: the promise and perils of government contracting
    2. Managing complex contracting in theory and practice
    3. The Coast Guard's Deepwater program
    4. Rules in complex contracts
    5. Performance incentives in complex contracts
    6. Complex contracting's promise and pitfalls: win-win and lose-lose
    7. Management strategies for complex contracts

  • Resources for

    Complex Contracting

    Trevor L. Brown, Matthew Potoski, David M. Van Slyke

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  • Authors

    Trevor L. Brown, Ohio State University
    Trevor L. Brown is Associate Professor at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University.

    Matthew Potoski, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Matthew Potoski is Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    David M. Van Slyke, Syracuse University, New York
    David M. Van Slyke is Professor in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


    • Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, American Society for Public Administration, Section on Public Administration Research

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