Increasingly, federal acquisition has turned to COR training and certifications to ensure that Contracting Officer’s Representatives (COR) have the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively monitor the performance of their support contractor. What should every COR know? Here are 6 tips from Mark Drager.
It is a statement of the obvious to say that we rely on contractors to provide critical support and services to us. Think about that for a second…think of the ways in our personal lives that companies we hire support us. Think of your cell phone service, trash collection, heating contractors, car repair and maintenance, and a host of others we hire and depend on for support. Do you monitor that performance? I would argue that it is in your best interest that you should and that you probably do, vigorously. Well, so too, because of the critical reliance on contractor support and the large expenditures involved, contract surveillance is vital so that our business organizations’ support contractors are providing quality services and supplies in a timely manner, to mitigate performance issues, to raise the alarm if issues do come up, and to ensure that our organizations receive best value for our customers.
Who should be the focus of contract oversight and monitoring? The COR. Why not the contracting officer? Didn’t he sign the contract? Isn’t she responsible for making it work? Well…the reality is that for most contracting officers, their responsibility reaches over many contracts and their focus is mostly on the deal yet to be done, the contract that is in the works. The COR, however, if well chosen, has skin in the game. It’s his job to make sure the contract works and that the organization gets the services or products it needs. So what can we do to help a COR perform their critical duties well? Federal acquisition has begun to utilize COR training and certifications to ensure that their representatives have the requisite skills to adequately support their contractor and ensure the proper execution of the contract.
What should every COR know? Here are my Big 6 tips:
- The Roles and Responsibilities for Contract Surveillance: Bottom-line here is that the PCO (Procuring Contracting Officer) appoints the COR. The COR is the eyes and ears of the PCO in terms of a specific contract’s performance. However, always keep in mind that the PCO signed the contract and has ultimate responsibility for it.
- Ethics and Integrity: Contracts can be a minefield and a COR better have a clue as to the placement of those mines. A good COR understands organizational and personal conflict of interest, understands personal versus business relationships, and understands the indicators of fraud, waste, and abuse.
- The Acquisition Team and Process: An effective COR has to have a basic understanding of the acquisition process and who the main players are in that process. We’re talking about the PCO, the requiring activity (the customer), the COR, legal counsel, quality assurance representatives, property administrators, and the contractor. How do they play together and function?
- COR Responsibilities: So what have you signed up for, you newbie COR? These are your most critical duties: Understand the contract, monitor and document contract performance, inspection and acceptance (or rejection) of contract deliverables, handling unsatisfactory performance, providing technical expertise, keeping files current and complete (including tracking modifications), and keeping the contracting officer in the loop.
- Contract Structure: The COR needs to have a basic understanding of contract structure. He needs to know about contract categories (supplies/services/construction), about contract types (fixed price/cost reimbursement), about the basic contract structure as required by the Uniform Contract Format (15.204: section A through H, clauses, attachments, task, and delivery orders).
- Contract Administration: This is really the core of the COR’s duties and focuses on performance monitoring, contract modification, contract options, contract changes, constructive changes, unauthorized commitments, warranties, acceptance , invoicing and payment, and contract closeout.
So, COR Jedi, if you have a handle on these 6, you should be able to have the tools necessary to keep your support contractors on track, keep your organization informed, and ultimately help get the performance you need from your chosen contractor.
A Contracting Officer's Representative is an important part of supply management. Learn more with these AMA resources and seminars.