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How Negotiation and Project Management Skills Can Advance a Government Contracting Career

How Negotiation and Project Management Skills Can Advance a Government Contracting Career

What do you get when you marry technical expertise with the drive to conceive, finance, and manage multi-million dollar projects from start to finish? A government contracting specialist, of course.

Most employees inside and outside of government fill pre-designed, somewhat unchanging roles in their organization’s day-to-day operations. Government contracting specialists, on the other hand, work in a dynamic environment where they are expected to design and deliver the outputs that define their employer’s mission – whether it’s a federal agency looking for technologists to build a new satellite communications network or a private company providing office space for a demanding government customer. Government contracting is the creative, technical, mission-critical work on which an agency’s public policy success and a corporation’s financial fortunes depend.

Success in government contracting requires subject-matter expertise, business judgment, project management skills, organizational leadership ability, and the ability to negotiate legally compliant contracts that advance the agency’s mission or the supplier's business objectives. Government agencies and leading corporations worldwide are seeking driven, talented people with these skills.

Government contracting specialists typically demonstrate skills and relevant experience in the following areas:

Acquiring such a broad range of skills requires a significant effort over time, both on the job and in the classroom. But there is a payoff. Individuals who can tick all these boxes are well-compensated, valued members of their organizations.

A final piece of the government contracting specialist’s skillset is an insider’s appreciation for budgeting processes and how government officials actually make decisions when directing taxpayer money to private suppliers of goods and services. This knowledge is a distinct business advantage and sought-after personal attribute that cannot be over-estimated in the government contracting field.

“We want to make sure that everyone understands how a company generates money to be spent versus how the government generates money to be spent,” says William Kugel, Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law and one of the highly experienced instructors for the school’s government contracting programs. “We give the students enough understanding of how budgets are generated, how budgets are approved, how budgets are executed, how we monitor the contractor’s financial performance so that they can understand when they sit down with their government financial manager exactly what he or she can do for them.”

Kugel believes that one of the strengths of UDSL’s government contracting program is that it provides students with an understanding of what the government is looking for when it contracts with businesses for goods and services, as well as the ways that government contractors can keep government officials happy, not fall behind schedule, and not lose funding.

“It’s important for contracting people to understand that there’s a purpose for that money being provided to them,” Kugel says. “People above you, whether it’s in the Pentagon or Capitol Hill, are going to be monitoring how well you’re spending that money. If you’re not spending the money very quickly, the message you send is that you really don’t need it.”

Many people looking to begin a career in government contracting lack the broad range of necessary technical expertise and business skills described in this article. If you’re already working in this area and want to fast-track your career, or a veteran looking to transition from active duty to a mission-driven civilian role, you can kickstart a government contracting career through advanced education.

The Government Contracting & Procurement Program at the University of Dayton School of Law is designed to meet the specific needs of people who aspire to a career in government contracting. Unlike the broad survey courses on administrative law and contract law offered in most university programs, the UD Law government contracting curriculum provides students with the specialized legal knowledge they will be expected to know as government contracting specialists. All subjects are taught with the needs of government contracting specialists in mind.

At UD Law, project management principles are taught from the perspective of administering a federal or state contract. UD Law students learn not only the fundamentals of contract law and contract drafting but also gain insight into the specific needs of government contractors: the regulatory framework applicable to government contracts, the types of contracts used by federal and state agencies, differences between contracts for goods and contracts for services, legal mechanisms for resolving contract-related disputes, and how contracting specialists can provide value to their organizations by drafting contracts that advance business objectives.

Students receive a thorough grounding in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), along with the myriad other laws and regulations applicable to government acquisitions.

UD Law’s faculty is comprised of top subject matter experts from the Department of Defense (DOD) and other leading federal government agencies – all of whom draw on their firsthand knowledge and applicable experience to help students hit the ground running in the next phase of their careers. For many people, learning the ins and outs of government contracting and project management on the job is not possible; the next best thing is learning from government contracting experts who have had that experience.

There’s one more benefit at UD Law: mid-career government contracting students need not miss a single day of work. Classes are offered only during evening hours and are designed to allow students to choose their own pace of study.

Are you interested in a government career or within the private sector leading your company’s business dealings with the government? The University of Dayton School of Law's Government Contracting program offers a unique opportunity to transition to these exciting careers. With convenient evening classes that are 100% online, the Government Contracting program provides students with sought-after expertise in legal subjects necessary to thrive in all contracting and acquisition roles. Earn your degree in as little as one year.Government Contracting Program Banner

Government Contracting and Procurement Program


Phone: (937) 229-1501


Government Contracting and Procurement

Keller Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2772