Technical Assistance Guidelines Contracting Guidance

If an agency determines that it needs a third-party TA provider, it will need to go through the contracting process to establish this partnership. This section provides a primer on the contracting options available to State agencies. It offers high-level information about what program staff should know from the beginning about the contracting methods that may be utilized to execute a TA contract. This section is neither comprehensive nor intended to duplicate the State Contracting Manual. Instead, it provides recommendations to help agency staff understand some best practices and key considerations in TA contracting from a programmatic perspective. It is always best to consult with your internal administrative team prior to developing any new program or amending an existing program to best understand how funds can be used and the policies and practices that apply to your agency.

Contracting Best Practices at a Glance


Key Considerations
  • Project Management Team and Resources
  • Contracts vs. Grants
  • Expertise and Experience
Procurement Methods
  • Interagency Agreements
  • Request for Proposals
  • California Multiple Award Schedules (CMAS)
  • Small Business or Disabled Veteran Enterprise Option
  • Non-Competitive Options
General Contracting Recommendations
  • Scope of Work
  • Budget Considerations
  • Timeframe
  • Deliverables
  • Appropriate Reporting Schedule
Competitive Bidding Guidance
  • Outreach
  • Selection Process
Contract Language Guidance
  • Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
  • Allow for Adaptability

Key Considerations

Before diving into the contracting process, identify the approach that works best for your TA program. Understanding the available options from the start will help make decision-making easier later in the process.

Project Management Team and Resources

The first step in developing a TA program and determining the contracting process for the program is to meet with procurement and legal staff at your agency to better understand the contracting policies and processes at your agency and any limitations to using the available funding. Throughout the contracting process, work closely with these colleagues and consider including them as an official part of your project management team. Their expertise on the State’s contracting rules can help you navigate an otherwise complicated process, identify potential roadblocks, and set a realistic timeline.

Additionally, the State maintains many helpful resources to consult as you determine the contracting method most suitable for your TA program. State contracting policies will likely inform some elements of TA design, so it is helpful to use Volume 1 of the State Contracting Manual (SCM) developed by the Department of General Services (DGS). The SCM, Volume 1 provides the policies, procedures, and guidelines for securing services for the State. It might be useful to also consult SCM, Volume FI$Cal as it provides details on various procurement methods and promotes ways to increase business opportunities on state procurement and contracting activities for small and disabled veteran businesses and those businesses operating in economically distressed areas of the state.

Contracts versus Grants

TA can be deployed through both contracts and grants. Contracts are used to obtain services provided to the State through a legally binding agreement. Contracts are specific in topic, scope of work, budget, and outcomes. Grants are used as a mechanism to provide services to a community. They generally allow for more flexibility in topic, scope of work, and outcome. The first step in determining which approach is best for your TA program is knowing the funding source. If your TA program uses funding designated for “State operations” or “State support,” then you must use a contract to partner with an external entity. There are multiple contracting methods available to State agencies, which are described in the sections below. Selecting the right method for your purposes will depend on the type of organization and expertise your agency seeks, as well as the budget and timeline for the contract.

If your TA program is funded through “local assistance dollars” and/or you have statutory or budgetary authority, then you may also be able to provide TA through grants. Without statutory authority, a grant is considered an illegal gift of public funds. There are two ways to administer grants to support TA. The first is to administer the grant directly to the local government or other entity that will be receiving assistance and allow them to carry out their own procurement process to select a TA provider. This allows TA recipients to have more control over the scope of work and selection of their own TA provider. However, it may necessitate a longer timeframe since the TA recipient will have to administer the funds through its own procurement process. Another way to provide TA through this method is to grant directly to TA providers to cover the cost of their TA services. Both the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Climate Smart Agriculture TA programs and the California State Waterboard’s Proposition 1 TA are administered as grants to TA providers.

Desired Expertise and Experience

Once your team has decided to hire an external TA provider, be specific about what types of skills and expertise are needed to effectively carry out the TA. This will help determine the most appropriate contracting method, and also inform RFP content, scoring criteria, and outreach to potential bidders in the case of a competitive contract. If you are looking for a variety of types of expertise, or if your TA contract plans to cover a large and diverse geographic area, it may make sense to promote a team approach. By encouraging a variety of organizations with different areas of expertise and geographic focus areas to collaborate under one contract, the TA team will be able to provide more specialized expertise to meet TA recipients’ needs.

A team approach may be especially beneficial when contracting with smaller organizations that may not have the staff capacity to carry out TA activities if a staff member leaves or an essential funding source dries up. In these cases, working with a team of TA providers can ensure that another organization can step in if unforeseen circumstances arise. Not only does this approach help ensure a more resilient TA project, it enables smaller community organizations to participate in TA delivery, which helps ensure more context-sensitive and culturally sensitive TA.

Procurement Methods

If you decide a contract is your best option, it is important to understand the types of contracts available to State agencies. If your agency has determined that it does not have the in-house capacity or expertise to carry out the TA activities, the SCM specifies that the agency should first consider an Interagency Agreement (I/A). If you can identify other State agencies, departments, the University of California (UC), or California State University (CSU) that have the desired expertise, an I/A may make the most sense. If your TA program requires highly specialized skills or needs a diverse team to support TA across subject areas, exploring other contracting options may be the best way to respond to the needs of TA recipients. The sections below provide some basic information about the contracting options for TA contracts.

Interagency Agreements

Your agency or department may wish to consider funding another State entity with the necessary expertise to provide TA services. These types of non-competitive contracts are known as Interagency Agreements or “I/As.” Agencies may enter I/As with any California State agency, including UCs or CSUs, but cannot use them for contracts with federal government agencies, local agencies, joint power authorities, campus foundations, or other states (SCM v1 3.03). Agencies often prefer I/As because they tend to be more cost effective and involve fewer steps than other methods, which can streamline the contracting timeline. Note that I/As cannot be used to circumvent purchasing authority by having another agency buy goods or services for you. If an I/A is not well suited to your TA program, your department or agency may choose to go through a competitive bidding process to select a contractor or contractor team to carry out TA.

Requests for Proposals

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a solicitation for competitive proposals for a particular contract. An RFP describes the process for how the agency will select the TA provider and describes a scope of work for the TA project or program. It must be as precise as possible to ensure that all proposals address the same goals. State contracting processes offer several RFP types, but RFP Secondary is generally the most relevant for TA contracts. RFP Secondary is well-suited to obtaining very complex and/or unique services for projects that demand professional expertise and methods that vary greatly as well as for creative or innovative approaches (SCM v1 5.06).

California Multiple Award Schedules

DGS maintains a list of California Multiple Award Schedules (CMAS) contractors on their Find CMAS Contractor search platform. These contractors provide products and services that have been competitively assessed, negotiated, or bid at or lower than the Federal General Service Administration rates with the State of California terms and conditions. CMAS agreements streamline the procurement process for select products and services by removing repetitive and resource intensive steps of the bid process. Before deciding on using CMAS, consult the search platform and DGS resources (like the CMAS Guide and SCM, Volume FI$Cal) to ensure that contractors with the TA expertise needed for your specific program are on the CMAS list. Even though CMAS has fewer steps than the RFP process, it is important to take the time to verify that the expertise needed is available through the CMAS contractor list before opting for this option and to ensure that your agency has purchasing authority from DGS to pursue this method. [ 1 ]

Small Business or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Option

The State’s contracting laws allow departments to solicit California-certified SB and DVBE suppliers and award purchase documents valued from $5,000.01 to $249,999.99. Agencies must only release the solicitation package to certified SB or DVBE businesses and obtain responsive bids from at least two bidders before awarding the contract. The certification status of a SB or DVBE can be verified on the OSDS database. [ 2 ]

Non-Competitive Contracts

The State also allows for non-competitive contracts when the contract budget is under $10,000 or when contracting with specific types of entities. Eligible entities are listed within Chapter 3 of SCM, Volume 1. TA program costs cannot be split into multiple contracts to stay under $10,000 and avoid the competitive bidding process. Table 5 provides a summary of the various contracting pathways available to agencies for TA programs. [ 3 ]

Table 5: State Contracting Methods

Method Description Bidding Required

Request for Proposals

Formal advertised competition with award to the highest scorer. Useful for complex unique multi-faceted services where cost is a significant but not the primary factor. Ex. Public relations, advertising, research, etc.

Yes. Advertising and protest rights apply.

CMAS (California Multiple Award Schedules)

Agencies may award contracts using an existing Leveraged Procurement Agreement (LPA), which allows departments to buy directly from suppliers through existing contracts and agreements.

Yes. Advertising and protest rights apply.

Contract under $10,000

Services contracts under $10,000 may be awarded by contract or service order without competitive bidding.

No.

Interagency agreements

Contracts between two California State agencies.

No.

Contracts between $10K and $250K awarded to a California certified SB or DVBE

Services contracts may be awarded based on obtaining quotes from two California certified Small Businesses or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise businesses (DVBE)

No. This is an informal quote process, no advertising, sealed bids, or protest

General Contracting Recommendations

Scope of Work

The scope of work (SOW) describes all work the selected TA providers will perform. SOWs explain the tasks and deliverables the provider will carry out through the contract. Depending on the template your agency uses, you may include legislative background and project goals in the SOW or in a separate section.

An effective SOW will not only elicit the types of responses desired but will also create an easier selection process. Consider what types of information will allow bidders to submit strong proposals that respond to the needs of your TA program. Also consider that once a contractor has been selected, it is relatively difficult to amend the scope of work beyond what is contained within the contract SOW.

The following recommendations can help you craft your solicitation SOW:

  • Clearly state program goals and background to clarify intended audiences, activities, and outcomes.
  • Clearly describe all tasks and deliverables.
  • Specify if you would like an opportunity to review a draft of any deliverables or be involved in decision-making on certain tasks. Doing so allows for quality control and will ensure that draft reviews are properly incorporated into the timeline.
  • Include reporting requirements and expected communication methods, such as regular check-ins.

Ideally, a SOW should be clear and concise but not overly prescriptive. It can be challenging to strike a balance between being clear, but not so specific that amendments will have to be made every time a minor change is needed. Avoid being overly specific on components that your team may not have enough expertise to specify, or that will depend on factors outside of your control. Providing bidders with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and experience through the bidding process, or through collaboration with the contractor on a non-competitive contract, ensures that the TA can benefit from the expertise and approach of the TA provider you selected.

In the case of an RFP process, an overly rigid and narrow SOW may keep some strong candidates from bidding because the SOW does not allow them to apply their expertise in creative ways that could enhance the overall project. Openness to the expertise of TA providers and community-based organizations is particularly important for TA programs that involve engagement and partnership with under-resourced communities. It may be helpful to distinguish between deliverables the contractor has discretion over and deliverables that your agency may wish to keep more prescriptive. Bidder defined deliverables may include components such as TA assessments, approach, work plan, or training activities, details for which the provider may define based on their areas of expertise and knowledge of their team.

Budget Considerations

While some State contracting requirements apply to all agencies, it is important to consult your internal contracting and legal teams to understand any policies specific to your agency or funding source. In many cases, the source of funding for the TA contract will also have some restrictions to consider when scoping out the overall budget for the project and developing an RFP or non-competitive contract process. The following section includes policies you should consider when budgeting for a TA effort.

Indirect Cost Rate

Indirect costs are expenses of doing business that are of a general nature incurred to benefit at least two or more functions within an organization. These costs are not usually associated specifically with project activities but are necessary for the organization’s general operation. Agencies may have slightly different definitions of indirect costs; work with your contracting staff to understand any important policies related to indirect cost rate (ICR). Many agencies cap indirect costs at a certain rate, or in some cases there may be an ICR associated with the funding source.

Keeping indirect costs low ensures that more of the project funding goes directly to activities associated with the project. However, a low ICR cap may create a barrier that prevents some organizations from contracting with your agency. Small non-profits and businesses, for example, may not be able to cover day-to-day operations without including some overhead costs in the budget. Note that some organizations have pre-negotiated ICRs that they may not be willing or able to amend. For example, UCs and CSUs often have an established ICR, and some Tribes and nonprofit organizations may have a pre-negotiated rate with the federal government. While State agencies are not beholden to federal negotiated rates, entities accustomed to those rates may hesitate to agree to a lower ICR. Connect with your internal contracting team to understand your agency and funding source rules around ICR and eligible contractor costs.

Personnel Costs

While no Statewide policy defines reasonable personnel costs for contractors, it is a best practice to suggest that contractors refer to the State Civil Service Pay Scales located on the California Department of Human Resources’ (CalHR) website to stay within the range of the comparable salary of a State worker. Your agency may have a policy around whether it accepts loaded personnel rates, which include fringe benefits and indirect costs in the hourly personnel rates. Keep in mind that if a contractor submits loaded rates, their hourly rate will be significantly higher than they submit actual rates. [ 4 ]

Travel Costs

Project travel conducted by the TA providers must follow the CalHR’s travel and per diem rates. Regardless of which contracting method your agency chooses, it is important to ensure that anyone entering a contract with the State understands this requirement to ensure that their travel expenses qualify for reimbursement. Reiterate the travel reimbursement policy at the contract kickoff meeting to ensure the contractor will not have to cover the difference for any ineligible travel costs.

Equipment Costs

Depending on the scope of work for the contract, it may be helpful to set a policy around equipment costs. Include clear information about whether and what type of equipment is an eligible cost, along with any restrictions on how much the contract can spend on equipment. According to the SCM, when contractors purchase or build equipment as part of a State contract, the contract must clearly indicate that the title for the equipment will belong to the State. After the contract term closes, the contactor must return the equipment to the State, or the agency may allow the contractor to continue using the equipment under another contract or agreement (See SCM v1 7.29 for more information).

Meeting Spaces

Room rental is an eligible cost for many funding sources but be sure to verify before allowing it as an expense in an RFP or contract budget. Reasonable costs for meeting space depend on the occupancy of the room, any audiovisual equipment included, and the amount of time the room is occupied. In many cases, especially for smaller workshops, it is possible to find meeting spaces that are available free-of-charge. Public agency buildings, libraries, universities, community centers, and churches may be ideal options for workshops, but it is important to check if they have audiovisual equipment (if needed) and are American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant before planning to hold a workshop. It is also important to keep in mind that some community members, particularly undocumented individuals, may not feel comfortable attending workshops in public agency buildings. If the goal of the TA is to build partnerships and trust between local agencies and the community, it may be wise to plan to hold workshops in more neutral spaces and leverage existing community meetings when possible.

Translation and Interpretation

Depending on the audience for your TA, you might need to budget for the translation of materials as well as interpreters and interpretation equipment for meetings and workshops. If you are providing TA to local or regional agencies, businesses, non-profits, or other organizations, it may not be necessary to translate materials. However, it is best to engage with these entities before finalizing the SOW for your TA to ensure that this is the case. If your TA project will provide direct services to community members in disadvantaged or low-income communities, or will include community engagement of any kind, take language access into consideration.

Keep in mind that translation and interpretation are specialized skills. A TA provider is fluent in relevant languages is not necessarily qualified to carry out these tasks. If translation and/or interpretation services are needed for the TA project, encourage potential contractors to partner with a translation agency if they do not have this expertise internally. For one-on-one TA activities, however, it will likely be more effective to ensure that member(s) of the TA team have the relevant language skills for the communities served through the project.

Food and Childcare for Workshops

Providing food and childcare at workshops and events is a well-documented best practice for improving the effectiveness of community engagement by creating a more welcoming environment, ensuring better turnout, and allowing participants to stay longer and engage more fully. However, many State funding sources do not cover the cost of food or childcare. In some cases, food may be an eligible expense for working lunches at the State’s per diem rate but work with your administrative team to clarify if this is the case for your agency. If funding for these activities does not seem feasible using internal funding sources, it may be helpful to explore other funding sources to cover these costs. Consider working with your administrative team to identify opportunities for potential partnerships or sponsorships with local foundations, businesses, or other potential funders. Try to avoid requesting financial support from local community-based organizations as they generally have limited resources and should instead be viewed as partners to be compensated for their efforts to inform and assist with the TA effort. Finding a source of funding to cover the costs of food and childcare will be especially valuable when aiming to engage disadvantaged and low-income communities, or for workshops that span a mealtime.

Stipends and Scholarships for Workshop Participants

Depending on the audience and the level of involvement required from attendees, compensating workshop participants for their time or covering travel costs through stipends or scholarships may be another option to maximize engagement and acknowledge the services, input, and time provided to the State or local agencies by individuals. Compensation for participation can enhance the reach of the TA program by lowering or eliminating participation barriers such as travel costs. In addition to reducing financial barriers for engagement, compensating community partners who help with outreach or other tasks related to planning a workshop can change the dynamic between community partners and State agencies by showing that the State values their time, expertise, and input. Note that agencies should only provide stipends to compensate a specific service provided to the State. The agency and the partner should execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other contractual agreement to specify the scope of services provided in exchange for funding. Work with your administrative team to understand to what extent those costs are allowable based on your funding source or applicable contracting regulations. If stipends and scholarships are not allowable, it may be possible develop creative ways to compensate partners through other strategies.

Timeframe

Work with administrative staff to set a clear and realistic timeline for the contracting process and the overall program as early as possible. It is critical to understand the deadlines associated with your funding source. In most cases, State funds will have both an encumbrance and an expenditure deadline. The encumbrance deadline is the date by which the funds must be under contract. The expenditure deadline is the date by which the funds must be spent.

The time needed to encumber funds varies depending on the type of contracting method used. I/As and other non-competitive contracts, which require fewer steps, are generally quicker than other options. However, in many cases the process of negotiating a scope of work with an intended I/A partner can be equally time consuming for program staff, so make sure to allocate an appropriate length of time to develop these agreements before the encumbrance deadline. CMAS is also a relatively streamlined procurement process. Competitive RFPs tend to be the most time-consuming contracting process as they involve competitive bidding and scoring. According to the SCM, the competitive bidding process often takes an agency three to eight months from the time it posts the advertisement until it makes the award. However, this will vary by agency, so work with your administrative team to understand your agency’s timelines. Keep in mind the key steps in the competitive RFP process highlighted below.

Bidding Window

The bidding window is the length of time the solicitation will be posted on CaleProcure. While the SCM states that RFPs must be posted for 10 business days, best practice recommends at least 30 days. A longer bidding window gives bidders more time to respond, which can increase number and diversity of bids, helping ensure a fair competitive process. Short bidding windows tend to benefit organizations with more staff capacity and more familiarity with the State contracting process.

Proposal Evaluation and Bid Selection

A technical review committee must review and score all proposals through a deliberative process. The committee should include a minimum of three evaluators and one facilitator (typically from your administrative team). Reviewers should be familiar with the program and its objectives but remain impartial to applicant teams. It is generally helpful for reviewers to read through all the proposals and score them individually prior to deliberation by the committee. Allow ample time for reviewers to thoroughly review the proposals. If there are many bids to review it may be helpful to hold more than one deliberation meeting to ensure that reviewers have the time and energy to make thoughtful scoring decisions.

Protest Period

Once the review committee selects the winning bid, your agency will notify bidders of the decision and an intent to award is physically posted in the agency’s entry. For the sake of transparency, it is best to post the intent to award on your agency’s website as well. This is especially important when it is impossible or inconvenient for bidders to physically come to your office. Once the intent to award has been posted, the protest period begins and continues for 5 business days. During the protest period, proposers may challenge the State’s decision to award another bidder if they believe that the agency failed to properly follow procedures. Chapter 6 of SCM Volume 1 provides more detailed information about the protest process.

Department of General Services Approval

Depending on the contracting amount and method, some types of contracts – including all competitively bid contracts – require approval by the Department of General Services (DGS). Under typical conditions, DGS approval takes approximately 10 business days. However, unforeseen circumstances can slow this approval, so it is best to account for more time. Your administrative team may be able to provide more specific guidance on DGS review times at the time your contract is submitted. Guidelines for timely submittal of contracts and late justification exceptions are outlined in DGS Administrative Order 06-05.1 (available by contacting DGS). Once DGS provides the final approval of the contract with signatures from all necessary parties, the contract has been executed and services can begin. The State cannot compensate or reimburse contractors for work conducted prior to contract approval.

Deliverables 

Deliverables are work products developed as a result of the project and are not to be confused with tasks in the SOW. Deliverables should be specific, measurable, and accessible in the case of an audit. Program staff should avoid requiring deliverables that do not add a clear and specific value to the project. Including onerous reporting requirements or placing too much emphasis on refining documents not critical to successful TA delivery can quickly use up precious work hours that could have been devoted to TA service delivery.

Deliverables should provide useful information that supports TA recipients, allows agencies to understand and communicate the impact of TA programs, track and evaluate progress over time, and better understand how to enhance the TA for future iterations. Take your TA evaluation plan into account when determining the reporting structure for the contract to ensure that reporting provides useful data to track progress and to evaluate the success of the TA effort (see Evaluation page for more information)

When describing deliverables in a SOW, consider making final reports and TA resources public-facing. This may require budgeting extra time to make the documents easily digestible to a general public audience, as well as ensuring that they are ADA compliant. It is also important to specify that deliverables should be non-proprietary and to specify any branding or style guide requirements in the contract and the RFP (if applicable).

Transparency & Open Access

Specifying in the contract that the State has the right to share any deliverables created through the contract publicly eliminates misunderstandings around the audience and ownership of materials created during the contract. Some TA providers may also provide fee-for-service offerings outside of the TA contract and wish to keep certain materials proprietary, so it is important to clarify expectations. If the agency intends to have the rights to all materials created through the contract, share any style guides, logos, or other guidance on creating documents for the agency during the kickoff meeting to ensure clear expectations about branding and ownership.

Competitive Bidding Guidance

Outreach

Outreach is essential to spreading the word about your RFP and eliciting responses from a diverse set of organizations. In order to broaden the pool of TA providers and advance equity in contracting, ensure that contracting opportunities are widely distributed and accessible to organizations new to working with the State. In addition to posting it on the State’s contracting portal and your agency’s website, publicizing the RFP opportunity through additional channels can help increase your pool of bidders. Consider reaching out directly to contacts with connections to a broad network of organizations, including non-profits, small business enterprises (SBE), disabled veteran business enterprises (DVBE), minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), and women-owned business enterprises (WBE). Contracting with organizations that have existing relationships with the communities served by the TA program supports your ability to deliver context- sensitive assistance. Doing so can also facilitate inclusivity and trust between community and public agencies at both the local and State level.

Outreach activities – informational webinars, for example – can also help solicit more relevant and higher-quality bids. This approach allows organizations to engage directly with program staff and other potential respondents. Informational webinars can also create a networking opportunity for bidders interested in assembling a team.

If a team approach would best serve your TA program, it also can be helpful to create opportunities for potential bidders to network. With their consent, you can share webinar participants’ contact information via an open access spreadsheet. Other ways to support networking opportunities include hosting an online forum through your agency’s website (like the California Energy Commission’s Empower Innovation platform) or creating LinkedIn Groups open to anyone who wishes to join. It is important to note that agency staff should not facilitate this networking beyond creating opportunities for it to occur. For example, you should not contact multiple organizations to encourage the formation of a project team as this can affect impartiality and fairness to other bidders.

Selection Process

As you develop the project scope, think about scoring criteria. For RFP Secondary processes, agencies can score bids using criteria beyond the cost of the bid. While cost is a factor in RFP Secondary, other criteria such as team experience, approach to scope of work, and project timeline can also influence scoring. Pertinent scoring criteria helps facilitate an informed decision-making process and ensures selection of TA providers with the desired skills and experience. Consider all the roles, activities, and deliverables that the TA provider must fulfill during the contract term and prioritize the most important skills and background in scoring. To ensure that new TA providers have an opportunity to compete, place more emphasis on specific skill sets when setting selection criteria rather than being overly prescriptive about required experience. For example, criteria related to experience with grant application assistance is more inclusive than criteria requiring experience assisting applicants for a specific program.

Strong review committees should comprise a diverse group of reviewers, which will enable examination of each proposal from various perspectives. Before commencing your review session, ensure that reviewers understand the program priorities and do not have a conflict of interest (COI) [ 5 ] with any of the organizations that submitted a proposal. Reviewers must also sign a form attesting to their lack of COI before the review session.

After you announce the winning bidder, consider hosting debrief calls with unsuccessful bidders to provide constructive feedback – especially for organizations with less experience working with the State. The SCM recommends informing inquiring bidders why their proposals did not meet minimum requirements if they were not considered. Debrief calls help build bidders’ capacity to pursue other TA contracts for the State by explaining the reasons behind the final scores. Program staff should provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of bids but avoid advising bidders of specific ways to be more competitive in future solicitations to ensure impartiality and fairness in future bidding.

Contract Language Guidance

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

Creating clearly defined roles and responsibilities for both the project managers and the selected TA providers is key to a successful TA program. Doing so ensures consistent organization, promotes collaborative decision-making, and enhances operational performance by promoting accountability to assigned work. The RFP should clearly outline all roles and responsibilities.

Allow for Adaptability

Building flexibility into your contract allows program staff and the TA provider to adapt to changes in real time. One way to support adaptability is to clearly specify intended outcomes without stipulating activities or processes that are overly constrained or rigid. This can help prevent the need for budget changes or contract amendments, which are time-consuming for everyone involved. It can help to build increased flexibility into pilots or the first round of a TA program, since both provide key learning opportunities to strengthen processes for the future. One concrete way to build flexibility into a contract is to include evaluation and assessment deliverables and activities in the SOW with the explicit intention of identifying opportunities for improvement.


  1. California Department of General Services, State Contracting Manual, vol. FI$Cal, pp. 23–28.  
  2. ibid, p. 4.  
  3. California Department of General Services, State Contracting Manual, vol. 1, Ch. 5.  
  4. The California State Water Board publishes and updates Cost Guidelines that can be a helpful resource to understand how other agencies determine which costs are reasonable.  
  5. California Department of General Services. State Contracting Manual, vol. 1, 7.10