Architectural & Engineering (A&E) Contract Management : Contracting Concepts

Contracting Concepts

Procurement Procurement covers the acquisition of goods and services from third parties, from the initial concept and definition of business needs to the end of the useful life of a product or service.

A contract is a voluntary agreement between two parties who promise to exchange money, goods, or services according to a specific schedule. A contract requires an exchange of consideration: a vendor (seller, consultant) provides a product or service, and a buyer (e.g., Caltrans) pays for that product or service.

Simple purchases, such as those made at a retail store, do not usually require a formal contract. In these cases, the "contractual agreement" takes effect as soon as the buyer and vendor have what they want, usually money on one side and goods or services on the other.

To protect the interests of both buyer and vendor, more complicated and/or long-term transactions call for a written agreement consisting of reciprocal promises that remain in force until all parties are satisfied. If one party fails to honor the terms and conditions of the agreement, the other party may bring action in a court of law.

Contract Manager

The contract manager (CM) represents the contracting agency in all dealings with the consultant, including monitoring work performance and authorizing payment. The CM’s specific responsibilities are defined by the contracting agency.

On Caltrans projects, the CM represents both Caltrans and the State. The CM is responsible for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Requesting services or goods, (including preparing a complete scope of work or description of goods)
  • Coordinating requests for services and product approval by functional units
  • Ensuring compliance with contract provisions
  • Monitoring expenditures and authorizing payments (only if assigned that responsibly)
  • Approving the products and/or services provided only if assigned that responsibility
  • Reviewing invoices
  • Requesting contract renewals or amendments when necessary
When the contract ends, either through expiration, completion, or termination, the CM completes the consultant evaluations and frees up (disencumbers) any unused funds.

The CM's responsibilities are basically the same for commercial service contracts, consultant contracts, and architectural and engineering (A&E) contracts. In all cases, the CM evaluates the consultant's work performance.

For more information on CM responsibilities, see these resources:

Task Order A task order allows a consultant to conduct work authorized under an on-call agreement. Task orders are mini-contracts that explain exactly how contract money will be spent. As a component of a contract, a task order’s scope, cost, and schedule must conform to terms of the master contract.
Task Order Manager An on-call A&E contract, or agreement, covers recurring work performed by one consultant on one or more projects. When work is required, the CM issues a task order against the on-call contract. The non-contractual or technical issues can be delegated to a project or functional manager. This individual is known as the task order manager. Consultants often use a Project or Contract Manager to handle the generation of task orders, and to assign different personnel to be the task order manager for each individual task order.
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