Originally posted on Nov 1, 2014, 2:49 PM by Jorge Tierno

Interesting days at the Barn as we finish our first contract negotiation. Government contracts are complex documents. Clauses and more clauses and not of the Horn type can be confusing to an engineer. Specially when many of them deal with non-trivial issues like terrorism, money laundering, and international boycotts. Since signing the contract means we guarantee we’ll follow those clauses, there’s a lot of reading to do.


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At least, they do try to make it easy for you. Much of the important information is summarized up front, in the coverpage (Standard Form 26, if you are a Government groupie.) Your company name is there (yay!), and also the “Total amount”, the funds that will keep the company going. At the bottom of the coverpage there are two boxes. The box on the left is for you. Where it says “Name of contractor” you proudly, and a bit wearily, stamp your John Hancock.

The box on the right is for your customer, who is awarding the contract. The label on that box is not Government, nor is it or the name of the agency you are working with, or the name of program manager that liked your proposal just enough to fund it. The box on the right is simply labeled: “United States of America”.

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As I carefully read the contract, that label caught my eye. A 
subtle message from a civic minded public servant, letting you know that the contract is more than just new business for your scrappy company. It is your opportunity to serve our country.

Read the Contract!