The subject of post-award orientation conferences is covered in FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 42.503. Post-award orientations aids both the Government and the contractor. These conferences help achieve a clear and mutual understanding of all contract requirements and help identify and resolve potential problems. However, FAR warns contractors that post-award conferences are not substitutes for the contractor's full understanding of the work requirement at the time its offer was submitted. FAR also warns that it is not to be used to alter the final agreement arrived at in negotiations.
Post-award orientations are not mandatory. Contractors can request one but ultimately, it is up to the contracting officer to decide whether a post-award orientation is necessary. Post-award orientations are not always conducted face-to-face either. Many are conducted over the phone. Sometimes, such conferences consist of simply a letter or other form of written communication. Obviously, the sooner the orientation is conducted, the better.
While not mandatory, FAR strongly encourages post-award orientations to assist
- Small businesses
- Small disadvantaged business concerns
- Veteran-owned small business concerns
- Service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns
- HUBZone small business concerns, and
- Women-owned small business concerns.
When deciding whether a post-award orientation is necessary, the contractor considers a variety of factors including:
- Nature and extent of the preaward survey and any other prior discussions with the contractor
- Type, value, and complexity of the contract
- Complexity and acquisition history of the product or service
- Requirements for spare parts and related equipment
- Urgency of the delivery schedule and relationship of the product or service to critical programs
- Length of the planned production cycle
- Extent of subcontracting
- Contractor's performance history and experience with the product or service
- Contractor's small business, veteran-owned, woman-owned status
- Safety precautions required for hazardous materials or operations; and
- Complex financing arrangements, such as progress payments, advance payments, or guaranteed loans.
We typically recommend that contractors request a post-award orientation conference if one is not offered. Whether one is offered or not, contractors should prepare questions and topics to be discussed during the conference and provide those to the contracting officer prior to the conference. The Government will have someone prepare a report and this report, according to FAR 42.503 must be made available to the contractor. If the Government does not offer a copy, request it.