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Conduct of the Preliminary Meeting
Who attends the preliminary meeting?
The CO generally invites government representatives who interact with the contractor during performance to attend the preliminary briefing. These individuals include the:
Quality assurance specialist
Other appropriate subject matter experts, such as a nuclear containment scientist or an environmental engineer.
Who is the chairperson for the preliminary meeting?
The CO chairs the preliminary meeting. The CO may provide an agenda or a postaward orientation checklist (see Exhibit 5-1, Postaward Orientation Checklist, at the end of this chapter), which is used to focus the discussions on the contract and issues impacting performance. At a minimum, the CO will provide guidance on the procedures for responding to questions at the postaward orientation conference.
What usually takes place at the postaward orientation conference, and what should the COR prepare before the conference?
Agenda items at the postaward orientation conference may include:
Questions. The COR needs to know before the conference how questions will be handled later at the postaward orientation conference. Because the COR will be handling the questions during the conference, the CO must decide at the preliminary meeting (and inform the COR of his or her decision) whether or not questions will be allowed at any time or if they must be held until the end of the conference.
Presentations. The COR may be asked to make presentations on elements of the contract that he or she is to monitor. Possible presentation topics include:
- Clarification of technical issues
- Security requirements
- Labor policies
- Environmental considerations
- Safety considerations
- Procedures for using government facilities
- Payment procedures
- Obtaining government property provided by the contract
- First article testing procedures
- Monitoring methods
- Acceptance procedures
- Issuing task orders
- The chain of command for making changes or responding to inquiries
- The past performance file.
Because contracts vary so much, presentations need to be structured to fit the particular contract. For example, every agency generally has established payment procedures. If the COR is working with a first-time contractor, a payment procedures presentation at the postaward orientation conference will probably be necessary. If the COR is hesitant to make a presentation, the CO should be made aware of the COR's concerns at the preliminary briefing. The COR must be prepared to make any presentations requested by the CO.
Presentation of the discussion paper. The COR presents the discussion paper, which focuses on the high and moderate risk issues potentially affecting contract performance. Depending on how the CO is conducting the conference, the COR will either present points from the paper at the time the particular issue is raised by the CO or will present the paper as the starting-off point for the conference. The COR should discuss the risks and solutions addressed in the paper and allow a thorough discussion. (Although the CO is the official responsible for making final decisions, the COR may be asked to take the lead in resolving problems or may be required to prepare a technical assessment of each problem.)
Presentation regarding the agency past performance file. Statutory requirements have recently been enacted for the documentation of a contractor's performance in an agency past performance file. The inclusion of adverse information in the file could result in the contractor not receiving future contracts; this point must be addressed at the preliminary meeting and brought to the contractor's attention during the conference. Any presentation made about documenting past performance files must include a discussion of the contractor's rebuttal rights. The COR may be the official charged with preparing the information for the file, and if so, is the person most likely to make the presentation.
Discussion of performance-based service contracting. The performance-based service contracting requirement may also be discussed. As the government moves away from basing acceptance of the contractor's performance under the contract on design requirements and moves closer to performance-based measurements, some partnering between the government and the contractor is necessary to ensure acceptable contract deliverables (i.e., supplies, services, or both). If the assigned contract is a performance-based service contract, a presentation is needed to cover monitoring and acceptance of deliverables. If monitoring and acceptance are the COR's responsibility under the contract, the COR needs to be fully prepared to discuss both.
Discussion of task order contracting, if applicable. Task order contracting has recently become more common. In lieu of awarding all the work to one contractor, the contract may provide for issuing task orders competitively to a group of selected contractors. If the assigned contract includes this competitive task order provision, the COR may have to make a presentation to explain the procedures to all contractors. Task order contracting will be discussed later in this chapter in the section entitled Task Order Contracting.
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