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Helping Communities Thrive: The Benefits of Master Services Agreements

Local governments epitomize self-reliance. However, when it comes to capital projects, independent operations can come at a price. Administrations are already busy with daily responsibilities and are often expected to add the delivery of highly technical projects or delegate responsibility to consulting design firms.

What happens when an administration has the capacity and desire to deliver a project, but the scope is outside its area of internal expertise? Or what if a community doesn’t have the internal capacity to manage a project? How can an administration confidently apply for funding and kick off technical projects when funds are secured through strict compliance with contribution and trade agreement conditions?

Such questions can be answered quickly by a project management firm acting on behalf of an administration. Often, these questions are most efficiently answered when an administration has already engaged a project management firm through a Master Services Agreement (MSA).

Want to learn more about how a Master Services Agreement can support your community projects?

What's an MSA?

In the municipal world, an MSA is an agreement between a municipal government and a service provider where both groups agree to the manner, terms and conditions in which services will be provided without knowing the specific quantity, timing or scope of those services. Terms and conditions are negotiated and confirmed at the beginning of the partnership, which provides both parties with the ability to engage in ensuing work quickly, with less risk and cost for all. MSAs can range in duration but are generally established for three to five years – sometimes with options to extend.

Contractual Gains

From robust confidentiality clauses to more specific payment clauses, an MSA not only sets the legal, technical and financial stage for future services, but also provides the opportunity to negotiate customized supplementary conditions. When compared to negotiating the terms and conditions of multiple contracts with the same supplier, an MSA enables focused negotiations and reviews – significantly reducing overall administrative and legal costs associated with the partnership. Once contract negotiations are complete and the terms set, the service provider can be easily engaged for one or more pieces of specific work.

Empowering Project Management

Relative to project management services, MSAs bridge the gap between an administration’s internal capacity and its ability to deliver projects. Through the MSA, project management services can be right-sized to the administration’s needs and take the form of simple guidance, ongoing support or project-specific leadership.

  • Guidance: In some cases, administrators may have the capacity to complete project work but might wish to get guidance and advice. Through an MSA, an external project manager can provide quick, unstructured and advisory-style services in an economical manner, allowing an administration to tap into the project manager’s knowledge and expertise as needed without adjusting an existing contract or developing new contracts.
  • Ongoing Support: MSAs are also well suited to scenarios where multiple, similar projects are approved. Under the MSA, administrations can engage one or more project managers to efficiently deliver a large quantity of similar work. In this case, statements of work are drawn up for each similar project clearly outlining the specific work required.
  • Project-Specific Leadership: Securing funding from a granting agency, while a welcome reward, can also quickly lead to a focus on how to achieve the project scope on time and under budget. With an MSA, an administration can immediately engage its contracted project manager to finalize the project delivery plan, complete the initial procurement in a manner compliant with both contribution and trade agreements, and implement project management best practices to ensure the community’s interests are represented.

MSA Benefits for Communities

  • Efficiency and Procurement: MSAs enable on-demand project management, reducing time spent on repetitive procurement processes.
  • Flexible Services: Adaptable project management suits various needs, from quick project starts to complex endeavors.
  • Increased Capacity: Smaller administration gain access to certified project managers, ensuring up-to-date expertise.
  • Advancing Community Goals: MSAs reduce procurement costs, free up internal resources and support successful project delivery. Customized MSAs align with community values, forming lasting partnerships that drive project success.