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In what instances may a CO decide not to hold a postaward orientation conference?
At the end of the preliminary briefing, the CO may choose not to hold a postaward orientation conference. The CO might decide that the information gathered at the briefing indicates that the necessary information can simply be conveyed to the contractor by letter, especially if the contractor has done business with the agency on other contracts and has a good history of performance.
A letter can also be used when relatively little information needs to be conveyed to the contractor. The CO may even decide to contact the contractor by telephone and hold a one-on-one discussion.
The COR may be asked to prepare a technical document or other presentation document for the CO to use if he or she chooses one of these alternatives. See Figure 5-4 for an example of a Post-award Orientation Letter.
The Postaward Orientation Conference
What is the COR's role at the postaward orientation conference?
The CO is usually the chairperson for the postaward orientation conference. Sometimes, however, the CO may direct the COR to chair the
FIGURE 5-4. Postaward Orientation Letter
conference. (See Exhibit 5-2, Suggested Procedure for Chairing the Postaward Orientation Conference, at the end of this chapter.) Even if the COR will act as conference chairperson, he or she is still generally responsible for:
Providing guidance in areas of expertise. The COR should come to the conference prepared to provide guidance and make presentations on any assigned area of expertise or topic. At a minimum, any presentation the COR makes should be consistent with the terms and conditions of the contract. Presentations may include an overview of the subject area being discussed, recent changes in applicable regulations, discussion of any relevant procedures or processes, and an opportunity for the contractor to provide input.
If discussion with the contractor of a certain contract element is needed, the COR should be careful not to bind the government in any way that alters the contract during these discussions. Any contract areas disputed by the contractor must be recorded and resolved by the CO, as the CO is the only official who can change or alter a contract. Discussions with the contractor can be used to establish a procedure or process that will ensure compliance with a specific contract term (e.g., first article test procedures).
Developing and distributing handouts. Handouts are permitted at the conference. Some handouts are required, such as Department of Labor posters and notices. Other handouts are developed specifically for the postaward orientation for the purpose of providing guidance and clarification on contract requirements. The COR will need to be careful that any information contained in handouts complies with the terms and conditions of the contract.
Handouts can include:
- Listings of relevant FAR provisions and clauses
- Explanations of security procedures
- Listings of government-furnished materials
- Telephone listings of government personnel
- Work schedules.
Responding to questions. The chairperson (the CO) will give directions as to when questions can be asked. The CO generally makes this decision earlier, at the preliminary briefing. The COR's responses to questions should be accurate and complete. Again, the COR is urged to exercise caution when responding to any question to ensure that the contract terms and conditions are not changed.
Identifying further action items. Issues that cannot be resolved at the conference must be identified and recorded by the COR. Whenever possible, a date should be established for resolution of the issues. All participants should be made aware at the conference of any specific follow-up actions they are personally responsible for completing. For milestones that require the contractor's input, it is best to reach agreement on the milestones at the conference. The CO incorporates the action items and due dates in the conference report.
What is the postaward orientation conference report?
The postaward orientation conference report should, at a minimum, include the following key elements:
The names and affiliations of all participants
The main points discussed and all agreements reached
Areas requiring resolution
Names of participants assigned responsibility for further actions
Completion dates for the actions.
The report should contain all the information necessary to document the events of the conference. All participants, including the CO, the COR, the contractor, and others, as appropriate, should receive a copy of the report for review. Any omissions, deficiencies, or disagreements with the content of the report need to be thoroughly documented and submitted to the CO.
Why is it important to resolve identified problems before the contractor begins work?
The COR should select the best solution to any problems and seek agreement. It is important that the COR resolve each issue in a fair and equitable manner and as quickly as possible. Although not always practical, it is best to resolve all problems before the contractor begins any work under the contract, because if problems are not resolved ahead of time, the government has no control or ability to negotiate regarding the contract requirements. In seeking mutual agreement between the government and the contractor, the COR's actions can include:
Holding further discussions with the contractor's top management
Recommending that the contract be modified by the CO.
If a contract change seems necessary, the COR must clearly define the extent of the proposed change and submit it to the CO promptly.
How is the postaward orientation conference documented?
The official contract file should include the conference report as well as all other material, correspondence, or actions developed or acquired from the conference. The COR should provide the CO with copies of all technical material and correspondence. In the event of any subsequent disagreements with the contractor, this material can be used to reconstruct facts and events as they occurred. A well-documented contract file will identify and verify the government's initial position on any performance problems that were anticipated during the conference or in the early stages of implementation.
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