Letter: Contract compliance should be given more credence
Steven P. Carter
St Augustine, FL
Special to Historic City News
I am wiring after watching the video of Mr. Regan’s Mobility presentation last Monday at the Commissioner’s meeting. I had been at the meeting earlier in the evening but had to leave before the Mobility update was presented. I am the individual on the Mobility Task Force who is providing some help to John and his staff during the execution and future thinking of the Mobility project.
My background managing projects such as this that involves executives sponsors, external consultants and stakeholder groups, is quite extensive. As an Executive with several management consulting companies over my 35+ year career I have had the opportunity to work with many Fortune 1000 companies and several state agencies on projects that have far reaching impact on the future direction of the organization.
The reason I feel I should credentialize myself is to add voice to the issue of contract compliance. This was discussed heavily at the latter part of the presentation and I was surprised that more credence was not placed on the necessity of this action. Typically in any consulting project it is the responsibility of the consultants, not the client, to provide weekly, or at minimum bi-weekly, status updates in written format as to their progress of tasks and sub-tasks. The Mayor mentioned a red-yellow-green dashboard as an approach, this is one that I have seen used before quite effectively.
It is the responsibility of the client to then take that dashboard, validate it, and pass it along to the executive committee (in this case you) for review, or to summarize it and present it in a way that might be more meaningful for your discussion. In either case it is normally appropriate for the executive sponsors to see the report at least once a month, at the same time this provides transparency and insight for citizens and provides confidence that expenditures are being managed well.
Several of you talked about meeting with the consultants and having conversations about the project. While appropriate this does not remove the necessity of requiring the consultant to document their progress. Besides providing you with accurate insight as to their progress, they can also report and document any issues and/or concerns they have. At the same time if there should ever be a conflict between the City and the consultant these documents will play a major role in dispute resolution, arbitration or litigation.
It surprises me that the consultants are not doing this already, its standard practice in the consulting industry.
Word of mouth and verbal recounting of meetings makes any dispute hard to resolve as I am sure you are aware.
I have offered my services to help Mr. Regan put such a reporting mechanism in place, not only for this first phase of the project, but also for future phases when the complexity of the consultant’s work will increase, as most likely will fees. He may feel that he can achieve this without other help, which is fine, but the offer of help is there if needed.