In contracting, the details may be the devil

Tuesday - 1/24/2012, 7:39pm EST

Steve Kelman, professor public management, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government

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Most people think the more specific you make a contract, the better performance you'll get from the vendor. Steve Kelman, a professor of public management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, joined In Depth with Francis Rose to explain why that may not always work.

Kelman, a former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, discussed some recent experiments that indicate fewer details in contracting are better.

More broadly, Kelman discussed what a more trusting relationship between agency and contractors looks like.

Writing on the same topic in Federal Computer Week, Kelman noted that often in contract terms, the devil's in the details — or more accurately, in his view, the details can be the devil.