Friday, November 7, 2014

Government Personnel Visits to Contractor Facilities

If you are the kind of Government contractor that builds things in your own facilities, you've no doubt experienced the steady stream of Government engineers, technicians, contracting officers, financial analysts, quality control, quality assurance, and other types of contracting officer representatives strolling around your plant, review progress, pouring over reports, second-guessing your estimates to complete, and generally, just kicking the tires of whatever it is you're building. And they're not usually unobtrusive. Many times they want presentations so you have to find some overworked employee to develop PowerPoint presentations for the dog and pony shows. The need for and the purpose of these visits is often fuzzy and you suspect that these guys just wanted a trip out of DC, or Wright-Patterson, or Huntsville or wherever they sit generally, to break up their monotonous week.

A certain amount of this comes with the territory - with Government contracting. Unless you're selling commercial items, you can expect the Government to apply plenty of oversight. But that doesn't mean "unlimited" oversight. There is a limit to what a contractor must accept and can reasonably accept. Visits by Government personnel must be cleared through the contracting officer and the contracting officer is required to coordinate those visits with the contractor and to discourage such visits if the information sought is readily available elsewhere or has been previously provided.

The regulations covering visits by Government personnel is found in FAR 42.402.
Government personnel planning to visit a contractor's facility in connection with one or more Government contracts shall provide the cognizant Contract Administration Office (CAO) with the following information, sufficiently in advance to permit the CAO to make necessary arrangements. Such notification is for the purpose of eliminating duplicative reviews, requests, investigations, and audits relating to the contract administration functions. Required information includes:
  • Visitors' names, official positions, and security clearances.
  • Date and duration of visit
  • Name and address of contractor and personnel to be contacted.
  • Contract number, program involved, and purpose of visit.
  • If desired, visitors to a contractor's plan may request that a representative of the CAO accompany them. In any event, the CAO has final authority to decide whether a representative shall accompany a visitor.
The more salient point follows:
If the visit will result in reviewing, auditing, or obtaining any information from the contractor relating to contract administration functions, the prospective visitor shall identify the information in sufficient detail so as to permit the CAO, after consultation with the contractor and the cognizant audit office, to determine whether such information, adequate to fulfill the requirement, has recently been reviewed by  or is available within the Government. If so, the CAO will discourage the visit and refer the prospective visitor to the Government office where such information is located. Where the office is the CAO, such information will be immediately forwarded or otherwise made available to the requester.
Finally, there is the out-brief requirement:
Visitors shall fully inform the CAO of any agreements reached with the contractor or other results of the visit that may affect the CAO.
The main point of this blog is to make sure that contractors understand that the contracting officer is responsible for ensuring the propriety of the need for visits by other Government personnel and that such visits need to be coordinated in advance with the contractor after the contracting officer and the contractor have determined that the information being sought is not otherwise available.

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