The Responsible Contract Manager

Protecting the Public Interest in an Outsourced World

Steven Cohen and William Eimicke

"The book is remarkably devoid of ideological and normative wrangling that often polarizes audiences on the topic of government contracting . . . a must read for public management scholars and contract managers."
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Contract management is a critical skill for all contemporary public managers. As more government duties are contracted out, managers must learn to coordinate and measure the performance of private contractors, and to write contract requirements and elicit bids that obtain important services and products at the best possible price and quality. They must also learn to work in teams that include both public and private sector partners.

The Responsible Contract Manager delves into the issues of how to ensure that the work done by private sector contractors serves the public interest and argues for the necessity of making these organizations act as extensions of the public sector while maintaining their private character. Government contract managers have a unique burden because they must develop practices that ensure the production advantages of networked organizations and the transparency and accountability required of the public sector.

The Responsible Contract Manager fills a major gap in public management literature by providing a clear and practical introduction to the best practices of contract management and also includes a discussion of public ethics, governance and representation theory. It is an essential guide for all public management scholars and is especially useful for students in MPA graduate programs and related fields.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Basics

1. Defining Contracting and Contract Management

2. What Are the Public Ethics of Contracting?

3. What is Network Management?

4. Ensuring Accountability and Democratic Representation in Government Contracting

Part II: When Do You Contract, When Don't You Contract, and How Do You Find the Right Contractor?

5. When Should You and When Shouldn't You Contract Out?

6. How Do You Find the Right Contractor?

Part III: How Do You Manage Contractors?

7. Managing Contracts: The Skills You Need and What Can Go Wrong—Twenty Common Problems in Contracting

8. Performance Measurement and Performance Management

Part IV: Case Studies in Contracting

9. When Not to Contract: The U.S. Military and Iraq

10. When Contracting Really Works: Welfare-to-Work in Philadelphia

11. When Contracting Really Doesn't Work: Atlanta's Water Contract

Part V: Conclusions

12. Contracting, Representative Democracy, and Public Ethics




"The book is remarkably devoid of ideological and normative wrangling that often polarizes audiences on the topic of government contracting . . . a must read for public management scholars and contract managers."—Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

"Excellent addition to the literature on contract management, as it covers the practical issues as well as the broader questions of professional ethics, accountability, and responsible governance. It will be useful for MPA students and faculty as they explore best practices in this growing area of study. . . . The strengths of this volume are many, but I was particularly impressed at how the authors present the realities of the political environment and the conflicting pressures on contracting professionals. This material is well developed throughout the discussions of both the practical and ethical issues."—Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

"Cohen and Eimicke provide a practical, comprehensive process overview of public agency contract management through networks of organizations and address important concerns of transparency and accountability. It is an important look at this process."—Robert Agranoff, Indiana University-Bloomington, Instituto Universitario Ortega y Gasset-Madrid

"Steve Cohen and Bill Eimicke further their reputations as astute observers of government reform and innovation with this volume that tackles one of the most important—and least appreciated—areas of public management. Headlined outsourced failures clearly illustrate the importance of this book."—Stephen Goldsmith, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

"In today's age of permanent fiscal crisis, public agencies are under constant pressure to reduce costs and improve quality. Competitive contracting is often the fastest way to do that—if it is managed well. This book provides a useful roadmap to success and an intelligent discussion of the pitfalls to be avoided."—David Osborne, senior partner, Public Strategies Group and coauthor of Reinventing Government


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Steven Cohen is director of the Master in Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy and executive director and chief operating officer of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

William Eimicke is deputy commissioner of the Fire Department of New York City and director of the Picker Center for Executive Education at Columbia University.

256 pp., 6 x 9

Oct 2008

256 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-214-1
Oct 2008

256 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-649-1
Oct 2008

Public Management and Change series
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor

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