So how did ‘contingency contracting’ work in World War II? The U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command has a full book on the topic online, Building the Navy’s Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940-1946. What is especially interesting is how the Navy figures out ways to write flexible and fast contracts, and it’s interesting to see much of the types of contracts and terminology we use today stem from this period beginning just prior to World War II. Here is just one gem of information in this report:
“With respect to Midway, the original fixed-fee contract for the improvements there contemplated work of an estimated cost of only $3,720,000. The contract, negotiated in August 1939, contemplated completion in August 1942. Through supplemental agreements to the scope of the work, however, there had been accomplished by June 3, 1942 (the date of the Japanese attack) approximately $20,000,000 worth of work, including complete land-plane and seaplane facilities, the availability of which was of material assistance in the defeat of the Japanese fleet.” (Page 84)
SOG readers will find the section beginning on page 77 of greatest interest.