Every time a Contracting Authority enters into a contract with one or more Economic Operators, it creates a subordinate relationship the extent of which varies depending on the type and duration of the contract. By applying the best practices in public procurement, the successful Contractor must be the most suitable one to implement the Project to be executed. Based on this assumption and given that the procedures and cost of changing the Contractor or terminating the contract and re-announcing a tender is high, the Contracting Authority must care for the development of a good working relationship with the Contractor and furthermore, continuously invest in that relationship.
It is estimated that the good working relationship between Contractor and Contracting Authority:
|●||Gives the Contractor the possibility to better understand the goals of the Project and expectations of the Contracting Authority, as well as its business and administrative environment, thus allowing him to act preventively and submit proposals for the improvement of the actions to be executed,|
|●||Motivates the Contractor to improve his performance|
|●||Allows the Contracting Authority to realise the weak and strong points of the Contractor and hence to concentrate its efforts on the improvement of the performance of the latter where there is room for better performance.|
The relationship between Contracting Authority and Contractor is described and delineated by the conditions of the contract. This does not mean that this relationship in itself is defined strictly in the contract, but rather that the nature of the contract defines the framework within which this relationship is developed and cultivated.
Depending on the duration of the contract, the relationship may be short term or long term. In the first case it involves individual collaborations that are based on short term contracts, where the interactions of the two parties are limited, while the second case involves contracts lasting two or more years, where each party has the opportunity to get to know the other in-depth and to develop communication and cooperation channels. A key element, however, that defines to a greater extent (than the duration of the contract) the type of relationship that will be developed is the contract scope. Supply contracts (e.g., purchase of equipment, paper, automobiles, computers), contracts for the provision of training in a specific subject (e.g., specific project management programs, human resources management, negotiations etc), contracts for the construction or maintenance of small scale public works (e.g., maintenance of pavements, configuration of a square, paving works, maintenance of public buildings etc) neither favour nor do they require the development of close cooperation relationships with the Contractor. On the contrary, the contracts which refer to Projects:
|●||for the formulation of a development strategy for an entire sector (e.g., tourism, trade, telecommunications, transportation, education, etc)|
|●||which are critical to the viability of an organisation/ entity,|
|●||which possibly change the business operation environment of an organisation/ entity, its role and competencies, its technology infrastructure and services that it provides,|
|●||for the development, operation and maintenance of information systems that are combined with or require a total or partial operational and organisational restructuring,|
|●||which are innovative and are also aimed at, among other things, the transfer of know how,|
|●||which refer to constantly growing sectors of the market (e.g., the sector of information and communication technologies),|
|●||for the development of critical infrastructures which may possibly change the linking and communication of the country as well as its economic development (e.g., construction of roads, airports, ports etc),|
|●||for the provision of services or the development of infrastructures in the utilities sector (e.g., water supply networks)|
are the ones that require and must be characterised by the development and maintenance of a robust and strong cooperation relationship between Contracting Authority and Contractor. Building such a relationship demands investment of time and human effort, while it further requires that at least the Project Manager (or Engineer in the case of public works), who is responsible for the contract management, has the necessary skills and characteristics that are required for the development and maintenance of a good working relationship with the Contractor.
The development of a good cooperative relationship between Contracting Authority and Contractor can be achieved only when it is based on an open exchange of views, mutual trust and is guided by the goal of achieving a mutual benefit. The attitude and behaviour towards the Contractor and the respect of the contractual rights are essential for the development of a smooth and productive relationship.
In this framework, the Contracting Authority must adopt attitudes and behaviours as those mentioned below:
Table 6-2: Attitudes and proposed behaviours towards the Contractor
|•||Recognition of the contribution of the Contractor.|
|•||Seeking benefits for both contracting parties.|
|•||Development and demonstration of a cooperative (and not competitive) approach (harmonious cooperation to achieve the goal),|
|•||Demonstration of interest for the success of the relationship.|
|•||Conducting an open discussion on issues of strategy, exchange of concerns and seeking solutions jointly.|
|•||Development of suitable organisational structure and creation of communication channels between different organisational levels so that apart from the management of the two parties, the end users of the final product/ service/ work can communicate with the members of the Contractor's Project Team.|
|•||Giving space to the Contractor in order to take initiatives in the context of execution of his works, which are estimated that will contribute to the production of the desired result.|
|•||Demonstrating trust a) to the capability of the Contractor to fulfil his contractual obligations and b) the integrity he demonstrates during the execution of the contract.|
Trust cannot be imposed by one party to the other. Instead, it is developed and earned through the observance of the previously mentioned attitudes and behaviours and tested in the presence of problems and disagreements. The trust of the Contracting Authority towards the Contractor must be expressed in public and demonstrated in every awareness action to the staff of the Contracting Authority regarding the Project being executed and its expected results. Exactly the same must also be done in the case of communication of the Contracting Authority with all interested parties.
In contrast to the aforementioned, the following attitudes and behaviours must be avoided:
Table 6-3: Attitudes and behaviours towards the Contractor that should be avoided
|•||Continuously pointing out the hierarchical power|
|•||A competitive attitude towards the Contractor|
|•||An effort to achieve unilateral goals|
|•||Close, typical monitoring of the Contractor which is not accompanied by constructive comments and remarks.|
|•||Limited communication with only one communication channel towards the Contractor|
It should be noted that the development of a relationship and the way in which the other party perceives it, is directly affected by those managing the relationship. Consequently, a great emphasis and attention must be paid in the competencies and skills of the people occupying critical posts, while furthermore, the adoption of appropriate behaviours must also be encouraged. In cases that mistakes are made, these must be dealt with as lessons for the improvement of the capabilities and thus the performance of the officials next time.
It is pointed out that the development of good cooperation relationship with the Contractor must always be made in a professional fashion and with the appropriate attention so as not to violate the framework of the Code of Ethics. The Contractor is an associate of the Contracting Authority, who will help to cover its needs and achieve its goals and the relationship must be, above everything else, a professional one.
Attention must also be paid, so that the development of a good cooperation relationship with a supplier/ service provider or constructor will not lead the Contracting Authority to engage itself with him for period longer than the duration of the contract, thus infringing on the principles governing the public procurement (equal treatment, promotion of competition, etc.)
In accordance with what was mentioned previously, in order to ensure a good relationship of cooperation between Contractor and Contracting Authority it is important to ensure:
|●||The observance of the rules of conduct and professional behaviour (see subchapter 6.4.4)|
|●||Proper management in the communication between the two parties (see subchapter 6.4.5)|
|●||Conducting negotiations in an acceptable manner (see subchapter 6.4.6)|
|●||Proper problem management with a view to their prompt solution (see subchapter 6.4.7)|