In procurement, it's what brings up the back that matters. Contract administration is the caboose that carries the real weight.
From Steve Kelman's Lectern, we get some excellent insight on this from ASI Government's resources, Postaward Contract Administration and Management Toolkit. I just want to highlight two of the several papers available at that link. You should read each of these two papers in full at the link provided, and access the others at the link above.
Managed Relationships, Managed Contracts
We repeat: Contracting is not the most important aspect of acquisition. The deployment of the acquired resources in support of agency operations and mission accomplish1nent is far more critical.Postaward Contract Administration
Postaward is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It is during the contract administration phase that the government must ensure it gets what it pays for. Indeed, Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 42.302 lists 82 separate contract administration functions. Not all contracts require performance of all 82 functions, of course, but the list does show the scope and depth of contract administration-and its importance.
Very basically, contract administration is any action taken by either the government or the contractor during the period from contract award through contract closeout. Its basic goal is to ensure the contract is performed, as written, by both the contractor and the government. It is during the contract administration phase that the government must ensure effective contract performance.
While each contract is unique, some tasks are performed on most contracts, although to varying degrees. These common tasks are monitoring contractor performance, including inspection and acceptance; modifying contracts, including exercising options; reviewing invoices and processing payments; administering government property (if any); monitoring compliance with terms and conditions (e.g., subcontracting reports and contractor code of business ethics and conduct); and closing out the contract.