Statement of Work: Guidelines

A Statement of Work (SOW), sometimes called a “Scope of Work” or “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP), is a document that outlines a project that needs to be done. If done correctly, it confirms to the writer that they have a clear understanding of the project. To the reader it should be clear without having extra language. It should provide good metes and bounds on a project without being too restrictive.

A good Statement of Work can be turned into a full specification, is the beginning of a project development, or can be used to prepare a request for proposal for engineering or other professional work.

People with different perspectives and life experiences will read your statement. Readers may include members of the board, industry personnel, managers, technical experts, accountants and lawyers. All these readers need to understand the statement; therefore, language selection is very important.

Language Ideas

Scope of Work Sample Format

The following sample format is meant to be a guide and should be tailored to the specific requirements of the project. While it is not necessary to be so formal, a good organizational structure makes it easier to follow and use later. Sections may be removed as needed.

The template below has 10 sections, but not all 10 are needed in many cases.

  1. Background
  2. Scope
  3. Objectives
  4. Tasks
  5. Delivery
  6. Government-Responsibility
  7. Security
  8. Place of Performance
  9. Period of Performance
  10. Costs

1.0 - Background

The background may also be identified as the “Introduction,” this section provides information needed to acquaint the reader with the project. The background information should:

The background should not be used to discuss the tasks to be performed or direct work. Those items will be discussed below in section 4.0 - Tasks.

2.0 - Scope

Provide a statement of what the government expects to accomplish under the project. The scope should not include specific work tasks or a description of any deliverable products.

The scope statement should be brief, one to two sentences. Examples:

3.0 - Objectives

This section should provide a concise overview of:

Example: The objective of this contract is to develop a policy memorandum that details the financial impact on the States as it relates to MAP-21 and formula grants.

NOTE: The scope and objective may look similar but they both offer very distinct ideas.

4.0 - Tasks

Sometimes identified as “Requirements” or “Work Requirements,” this section defines the specific tasks that the contractor must complete during contract performance. The description of task requirements will depend on the approach that is selected to describe the required effort.

This section must describe requirements in a way that permits contractor personnel to perform the effort without direct government supervision. Contractor personnel must not be subject to the type of supervision and control usually prevailing between the government and its employees. For example, a statement may permit the government to approve key personnel, but must not permit the government to approve actual individual personnel performing the service. The statement should also not include words that appear to indicate that the government is managing day-to-day operations.

5.0 - Delivery

This section should clearly state:

6.0 - Government Responsibility

This section identifies the agency’s responsibility including actions to be taken by the agency such as inspection, services by the agencies, and any government property provided to the contractor, such as government-furnished material, equipment, or information. Before offering to provide any property, make sure that it will be available when required, where required, and in the condition required to meet the scope of the work. Failure to meet government-furnished property requirements often leads to a contractor claim for an equitable adjustment to contract price, delivery, or other requirements.

7.0 - Security

This section identifies any unique security requirements associated with contract performance (when applicable). These requirements may include, but are not limited to, such items as:

8.0 - Place of Performance

This section identifies where the contract effort will be performed. If performance will occur at multiple government locations, this section must indicate which tasks must be completed where. If performance will be at the contractor’s facility, the SOW need only state that the effort will be accomplished at the contractor’s facility.

9.0 - Period of Performance

The period of performance may be stated using actual dates, days after contract award, or using some other method. If different periods of performance will apply to different tasks, the tasks and related periods of performance should be clearly identified.

10.0 - Costs

This section provides an estimate of costs using the information listed above. It may be used as an estimate for determining if quotes are reasonable or to help with budgeting. This section may not be included in the final specification or request for proposal, but is very useful for the agency.

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