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Planning for Contract Administration
Now that the contract has been awarded, the contracting team must begin the process of ensuring that the government will get what it needs, when it needs it, at a fair and reasonable price; in other words, the contracting team must administer the contract effectively and efficiently.
Every successful undertaking has as its beginning good, thorough planning, and the intent of this chapter is to prepare the COR, as a member of the contracting team, to perform all of his or her contract administration duties in an exemplary manner. Following the award of the contract, the COR truly begins to function as the "eyes and ears" of the CO. Postaward planning is undertaken to:
Ensure that the supplies or services to be provided are exactly what was contracted for
Assign and communicate contract roles and responsibilities for both parties, the government acquisition team and the contractor
Identify the required level of contract administration, monitoring, and inspection.
The three primary areas of concern for the COR during postaward planning are:
Postaward orientation. Promptly after award of the contract, the CO is responsible for postaward orientation involving both parties to the contract, i.e., the government acquisition team and the contractor. The COR's duties include preparation for and participation in the CO's preliminary briefing of the government team to ensure a united front on all contract issues and concerns. The COR will then provide technical expertise during the actual postaward orientation conference.
The COR workplan. The COR accepts, rejects, or clarifies delegated duties in the letter of designation, establishes necessary files, and, of course, develops the COR workplan itself. The COR workplan is often referred to as the contract administration plan. It establishes a plan for monitoring contract performance and serves as a baseline for project management, scheduling, and successful contract completion.
Task order contracting. The information on task order contracting provided in this chapter focuses on the popular indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts with which the COR is likely to be involved, as well as the ordering officer and task monitor responsibilities and issues usually associated with these contracts.
What are the major goals of the postaward orientation period?
The three major goals of postaward orientation, in general, are:
1. To achieve clear and mutual understanding of the contractual requirements
This is the primary goal of orientation. The following two goals are intended to clarify both sides' (the contractor's and the government contracting team's) understanding of the contract requirements.
2. To understand what the contractor is planning to do
Finding out what the contractor plans to do before it is done is important in preventing the misapplication of contractor effort. Misapplication of contractor effort wastes project funds and could delay successful project accomplishment. Therefore, a review of the contractor's performance plans at the postaward orientation meeting is essential.
Some contracts break down the contract job into component steps or phases and require that the contractor submit for technical approval a plan for each phase prior to commencing effort on that phase. Some contracts may also require the contractor to submit, at the end of each contract phase, a report on the work done to date as a prelude to the effort for the next phase. The COR is the representative for receipt and technical approval of such reports when the contract requires them.
It is not enough for the COR merely to stay informed regarding what the contractor has accomplished at any point in time. Without an overall plan for the work against which actual accomplishments may be compared, it will not be possible for the COR to know whether a contractor has fallen behind; the COR would not be aware that a problem exists and would be unable to determine the cause of delay and to develop a solution in a timely manner.
If the contractor's written plans are sufficiently detailed, the COR should be able to detect elements of planned performance that may threaten successful contract completion.
3. To answer contractor questions and resolve potential problems
During the orientation, the contractor may have technical questions, and the COR will need to provide technical clarification. In some cases, there may be disagreements between the government and the contractor about what is required or how to implement the requirements. During the orientation, if a disagreement occurs, the COR should delve into the reasons behind the contractor's position and include the contractor's reasoning in the orientation report. If disagreement with the contractor lends an emotionally charged atmosphere to the orientation, the COR, in consultation with the CO, should consider deferring resolution of the disagreement, promising the contractor prompt resolution, if that is possible. If the problem requires joint contractor/government problemsolving, the COR should set up a time for a separate meeting with only those individuals who need to attend.
It is important that the COR resolve each issue that arises in a fair and equitable manner, as quickly as possible. It is best to resolve all problems before the contractor begins any work on the contract, although this is not always practical. In seeking mutual agreement between the government and the contractor, the CO may hold further discussions with the contractor's top management or may consider a contract modification.
As covered briefly in Chapter 1, the COR has several major responsibilities during the contract administration phase. These responsibilities are first defined and planned at the postaward orientation conference.
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