Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Contracting Officers

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the various agency FAR Supplements make frequent references to "contracting officer". For example, in several places, FAR states "The contracting officer may ... ". For companies just entering the Government contracting arena, it is sometimes confusing as to just who that person is. Actually, a contracting officer could be one of several persons/positions, depending on the situation. In general, a PCO (Procurement Contracting Officer) is the one negotiating and awarding contracts. After award, many of the duties associated with administering the contract are delegated to an ACO (Administrative Contracting Officer). In DoD, the ACO function is usually delegated to DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) although sometimes, the PCO will retain the "administrative" function. The PCO can also make limited delegations. The contract document will state whether "administratvie" duties have been delegated or assigned and whether there are any limitations on those assignments.

The term "contracting officer" is defined in FAR 2.101.
A "contracting officer" means a person with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings. The term includes certain authorized representatives of the contracting officer acting within the limits of their authority as delegated by the contracting officer. "Administrative contracting officer (ACO)" refers to a contracting officer who is administering contracts. "Termination contracting officer (TCO)" refers to a contracting officer who is settling terminated contracts. A single contracting officer may be responsible for duties in any or all of these areas.

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