The contracting officer is the main person with authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings. That person then, may or may not delegate some of their authority to authorized representatives to assist in certain matters. Usually, but not always, the contracting officer will delegate contract administration functions to an ACO (Administrative Contracting Officer). The ACO function within DoD is the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA).
The administrative functions that are normally delegated to an ACO are listed in FAR 42.302. There are 81 of them so we're not going to list them all. You can refer to the complete listing here. Of the 81 administrative tasks, 78 are optional in that the CO may delegate the functions or, in a rare case, choose to retain the functions in-house. The three administrative functions that are reserved for the ACO specifically are:
- Negotiating forward pricing rate agreements
- Establishing final indirect cost rates and billing rates
- Anything dealing with Cost Accounting Standards (CAS)
The ACO's organization (sometimes referred to as CAO, Contract Administration Office) are the ones responsible for CIPRs (Contractor Insurance/Pension Reviews), CPSR (Contractor Purchasing System Reviews), and EVMS (Earned-Value Management Systems) oversight.
The ACO is the person contractors usually start with when there are any billing issues (though DCAA plays a role in that process as well). The ACO can negotiate advance agreements applicable to the treatment of costs, issue notices of intent to disallow costs, and levy penalties for unallowable costs.
For contractors, the ACO is arguably your most important contact, once your contract has been negotiated. Get to know him or her.
Don't know who your ACO is? Just click here and enter a Contract Number (or your CAGE Code)