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The Postaward Orientation Conference
What is the postaward orientation conference or start of work meeting?
A postaward orientation conference is a planned, structured discussion between the government and the contractor that focuses on:
Understanding the technical aspects of the contract
Identifying and resolving oversights
Deciding how to solve problems that may occur later
Reaching agreement on common issues, as discussed earlier in Goal 3 of Question 192, regarding resolution of points of disagreement.
Some agencies refer to this conference as a start of work meeting.
What is the purpose of the postaward orientation conference?
The conference is useful for postaward administration planning. Although the FAR does not require postaward orientation conferences for all contracts, it does provide some fundamental guidelines for determining the need for a formal orientation. The FAR states that postaward orientations should be held when it is determined that the contractor does not or may not have a clear understanding of the scope of the contract, its technical requirements, or the rights and obligations of the parties in any area of the contract.
COs use postaward orientation conferences to:
Ensure that both parties have a clear and mutual understanding of all contract requirements (this is especially important when dealing with contractors who are inexperienced in furnishing deliverables to the government)
Identify and resolve potential problems
Furnish notices and other data to the contractor
Otherwise set the stage for a good working relationship under the contract.
A successful postaward orientation conference is characterized by the following accomplishments:
The contractor is informed of the postaward rights, duties, and milestones of both parties that could affect performance
All potential issues (e.g., disagreements about technical requirements) are identified and resolved
The resolution of each issue is fully documented in a postaward report
The CO is notified of any issues that were not resolved after subsequent effort
The contractor is advised of procedures, including rebuttal rights, for documenting performance in the agency past performance file.
What tasks will the COR need to perform during the postaward orientation period?
The COR must:
1. Prepare for the CO's preliminary meeting (or briefing)
2. Participate in the CO's preliminary meeting
3. Participate in the postaward orientation conference
4. Review a report of the postaward orientation conference
5. Complete assigned action items.
The Preliminary Meeting
What is the preliminary meeting prior to the postaward orientation conference?
Before the postaward orientation conference with the contractor, the CO will usually call a meeting of the government acquisition team to ensure the widest input on possible points of discussion during the orientation itself. One of the objectives of this meeting is to make sure the government team discusses its own issues and plans a coordinated and cohesive presentationa united government fronton all issues that will arise during the actual conference. The government can do serious harm to its contractual interests by displaying a divided or confused position on the actual requirements of the contract at the conference. Contractors could easily use this lack of unity to their advantage, for example, by not adequately performing some aspect of the contract and then claiming that the government's lack of clarity created confusion and thus caused the problem.
If these preliminary discussions make clear the need for a possible change to the contract or to the government's normal method of operations, the CO will obtain agreement that a change should be made from appropriate government personnel prior to the conference. The CO will also communicate with the government acquisition team to coordinate and finalize how potential problems will be handled.
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