WEBINAR: Turbocharging Legal Contract Transformation in the Age of Generative AI

How AI Is Rewriting Contract Compliance for Government Agencies and Their Contractors

Insights from NCMA CEO Kraig Conrad

In the latest episode of "The Fast 'Tract'," Bernadette Bulacan, Chief Evangelist at Icertis, sits down with Kraig Conrad, CEO of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) to discuss key trends in the federal contracting space.

You can watch the full discussion above. Here are some highlights.

Disclaimer: NCMA's participation in this webinar does not constitute an endorsement of any products or services discussed.

The Impact of New Regulations on Government Contracting

New regulations and policies continually shape the landscape of government contracting, posing both challenges and opportunities for contract managers.

“The challenges that we talk about—more laws, more executive orders, more policies—some things that keep coming back and getting reframed like the Better Contracting Initiative executive order. All of these things build up. We often in the federal government do really good at adding. We're horrible at taking things away.”

The introduction of new regulations often complicates the relationship between contractors and government agencies. These regulations, while necessary for ensuring accountability and proper use of taxpayer dollars, can add layers of complexity to the contracting process. 

The Role of AI in Federal Contracting

To address these challenges, Conrad points to the potential of AI and other digital tools to manage compliance more effectively. By automating the monitoring and enforcement of regulatory requirements, contract managers can ensure adherence to new rules without being bogged down by administrative tasks. This allows them to focus on strategic activities that add value to the contracting process.

“Right now, a lot of that energy and a lot of that excitement is around: ‘What can we automate?’ What can we do with AI to help leverage the capabilities and the mindshare of people who are there to serve the missions so that some of these things that are just incredibly compliance-focused can happen without them having to jump into it?”

“Right now, a lot of that energy and a lot of that excitement is around: ‘What can we automate?’ What can we do with AI to help leverage the capabilities and the mindshare of people who are there to serve the missions so that some of these things that are just incredibly compliance-focused can happen without them having to jump into it?”

The implementation of AI aims to alleviate the compliance burden, enabling contract managers to focus on strategic decision-making and enhancing the overall efficiency of federal contracting processes. By automating routine tasks, AI frees up valuable resources, allowing professionals to concentrate on more complex aspects of contract management.

Workforce Modernization and Training

Addressing workforce challenges, Conrad highlights the importance of modernizing training programs to equip new and existing contract managers with the necessary skills. The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) and the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) programs play a crucial role in this effort. However, Conrad points out a significant gap:

 “The gap that's still there is that if someone wants to come in from industry, they can't. These exams are only available to someone who is already in the government.”

To bridge this gap, Conrad advocates for more inclusive training programs that allow industry professionals to transition into government roles. By doing so, the federal contracting workforce can benefit from diverse experiences and expertise, enhancing overall competency and effectiveness.

The Common Language Initiative

The NCMA's Common Language Initiative is another pivotal project aimed at standardizing terminology across the contracting profession. This initiative seeks to eliminate confusion and ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of key terms and concepts. Conrad explains the vision behind this initiative:

“We recognized that quite a few years ago that there should be some form of standard. There should be a way for us to work toward a common language that we can all agree and recognize that we will always be in pursuit of the better.”

By adopting a common language, the contracting community can improve communication and collaboration, both within the federal government and with external partners. This initiative has already seen significant adoption, including by major organizations like Leidos and Lockheed, and aims to extend its reach globally through a partnership with World Commerce and Contracting.

Conclusion

As the federal contracting landscape continues to evolve, the integration of AI and the emphasis on standardized communication will play crucial roles in driving efficiency and effectiveness. The commitment to workforce development and the adoption of common standards will further enhance the profession, ensuring that it meets the demands of a rapidly changing environment.