Oregon Moves to Standardize State Contracts

Last month I noticed with interest this article by Carol McAlice Currie in the Statesman Journal. It’s entitled “House Passes Bill to Standardize Oregon Contracts.”

I recommend that you read the entire article, but here’s the gist of it:

Building on a promise to bring more transparency and accountability to government, Rep. Nancy Nathanson delivered on it this week when the House passed her bill to bring greater standardization to state contracts.

The Eugene Democrat is the chief sponsor of House Bill 2375, which would require state agencies to use standardized forms, templates and other documents approved by the Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Justice instead of the jumble of forms currently used by various state agencies.

Oregon is to be commended for this initiative; I don’t monitor these things, but I haven’t heard of another like it. Most organizations would benefit from overhauling their contract process. Based on what I’ve seen, that applies to state agencies. At a time when it seems as if people relish dismantling government just so they can say, See, we told you it doesn’t work!, it’s refreshing that Oregon has identified a systemic problem and taken an assertive initial step to address it.

Of course, it’s inefficient to force each state to develop its own templates. The states have similar procurement needs, so they should be able to use similar templates. In this 2014 post I suggested that it would make sense to have a trade group develop a library of automated contract templates for use by state procurement offices. So far, I’ve seen no sign that anyone’s interested in that idea. But hey, there’s only so much initiative a guy’s constitution can tolerate at a given time …

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.