The Contract Coach

Practical Advice - Quality Training

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"Notwithstanding the foregoing, the party of the first part agrees that contracts dated after Jan. 1, 1987, for which the contract premium in the first policy year exceeds that of the second year with no comparable additional benefit being provided in that first year, which policy provides an endowment benefit or a cash surrender value or a combination thereof in an amount greater than such excess premium, the reserve according to the Commissioners reserve valuation method as of any policy anniversary occurring on or before the assumed ending date, defined herein as the first policy anniversary on which the sum of any endowment benefit and any cash surrender value then available is greater than. . . ." WHAT????

Where does it say that in my contract?

Reading and interpreting the language of a government contract can be an exercise in futility. Contracts professionals (like all professions actually) have a lexicon of terms and often assign special meanings or to them. Wading through a contract the size of a telephone book to find an obscure reference telling you that you have to do something can be challenging. Even searching the electronic version of a contract (or solicitation) can be daunting.
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Government contracts consist of fill-in-the-blanks forms, free-form text, and often a lengthy list of boilerplate terms and conditions. Often the problem comes when reading the contract starts pulling you down Alice's rabbit hole. One key secret that I will share about reading these documents is to know when to stop reading and move to the next paragraph.

For example the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause may say something like "The contractor must do this unless: 1.) they are a small business, 2. The contract is below the simplified acquisition threshold ….: what then follows is a page and a half of detailed requirements telling the contractor what they must do. But you are a small business so you should read this as: "The contractor must do this unless: 1.) they are a small business STOP READING and go to next paragraph because all that follows is not applicable to you.
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Often what is necessary is someone with experience in reading through these documents that can explain the nuances such as "day" means calendar day - including weekends and holidays etc.

The Contract Coach speaks fluent "Contractese" and has well over 20 years experience working with engineers, scientists, and business professionals to explain - in simple terms - what the contract says and, more importantly, what those words mean with context to your situation.

The Contract Coach is Certified as a Professional by the National Contract Management Association and has been a member of NCMA for 15 years.

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