When Thomas Hobbes wrote The Leviathan, his philosophical political treatise, he put forth that a government should be heavily centralized and have near absolute power in order to essentially save people from themselves. Thankfully, western society affords us much more freedom than this theory would allow, and somehow we survive without bludgeoning each other over the heads with dull stones. That being said, much like the government in Hobbes’ philosophy, the United States government does have some “sovereign” powers that ordinary consumers do not have. When working on a government contract, it is important to realize this, as well as how those privileges can affect you.
One of the most important of these additional rights is the ability to unilaterally alter a contract, so long as it remains within the parameters of the contract. In practical terms, that means that the government contractor might be required to ship or package the product in a certain way, or even to supply more product. Of course, this does not mean that the contractor is without rights. Equitable cost adjustments may be instituted to scale compensation. In any case, the contractor must comply with these new contract components.
Perhaps the most concerning possibility for a government contractor is the fact that, should the government decide that the need for the contracted product or service no longer exists, the government might cancel the contract. The contractor will be compensated for the project in this case, but it can be unexpected. When dealing with the government, it pays to be prepared.
So what does this mean, and what should the aspiring contractor do? First, it is absolutely essential to keep your house in working order, and to be sure that you have the necessary resources to take on a project. Second, it always pays to have a pivot strategy in place. The possibility for alteration or cancellation of a project is remote, yet if you can prepare for multiple possibilities it can save you from financial distress and in some cases can improve your relationship. Raising a big stink over shipping specifications, for example, will only make you seem uncooperative. It’s far better to maintain some level of flexibility in your operations so that no situation is ever too far outside of your control. The best way to do this is to consistently track resources and time to projects, that way you know exactly how much additional funding, time, or materials can be diverted while still remaining profitable.