Isn’t a contract a conract?

Upfront: Government works through contracts very differently from businesses.

In the commercial world, a contract is more of an enforceable framework for two businesses to have a relationship, and a means of resolving disputes between them.

For governments, a contract is an all-inclusive specification.  There will be nothing vague or open to interpretation.  Every detail of the contract must happen, or else there will have to be a “modification” of the contract.

This is especially true of federal contracts, because of a long-standing law called the Anti-Deficiency Act (“ADA”).  One example of how this law affects business is that the (federal) government cannot accept “freebies” or even volunteer time that is not authorized by Congress.  This would be classified as “indebting” the government, and therefore an “unauthorized commitment” and therefore an “ADA Violation.”  Believe me, nobody ever wants to be the cause of such a violation.

So What? When entering into a contract with the government, read every detail with an eye towards absolute certainty that you can comply.  Be very aware that if any change is needed, it is a big deal.

Bottom Line: Government contracts are lengthy and detailed, because they are more of a “script” for a stage play rather than a general “idea” for how business will be done.  Yet again, this is because of laws whose intents are to prevent government waste and fraud.

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