Managing a Multiple Award Task/Delivery Order as a Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) or Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) takes organizational skills, uncommon teamwork and communication gravitas. Here is an overview of the process. Once the overall Contract awards have been signed and accepted by the Contractor and the Contracting Officer (CO), the administration of the contract, including the task/delivery order falls to the COR/COTR.
Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) are qualified individuals appointed by the Contracting Officer (CO) to assist in the technical monitoring or administration of a contract. Although CORs can be employed on all types of contracts, they are extremely useful in the more complex services, supply, and/or construction contracts.
Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives (COTRs) have different labels depending on the agency and departmental structure. Sometimes called Project Officers, Quality Assistance Evaluators, or Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs), the COTR role can be either a part-time or full-time responsibility. When a large contract exists with multiple work assignments, task orders, or delivery orders, the COTR may be a full-time responsibility. Consistently across agencies and contexts; however, COTRs interface with several acquisition functions. Primarily, COTRs work with Contract Specialists, Contracting Officers and Financial Representatives (from the contracting office), any work assignment managers or task/delivery managers, program office (also called customer) representatives, and vendor representatives. Sometimes multiple COTRs exist to serve a single project, a staffing composition requiring clear boundaries and task responsibilities similar to situations characterized by multiple task and/or delivery orders existing underneath one contract “umbrella.” At times the CO and the COTR work in different physical locations, for which both parties must compensate. Remaining aware of these key characteristics is essential to facilitate effective collaboration and accomplishment of program objectives.
For each task/delivery order in a multiple award contract, the Contracting Officer (CO) will issue a Request For Proposal (RFP). The proposal request will include a due date for proposal submission and a Statement of Objectives (SOO), Statement of Work (SOW) or Performance Work Statement (PWS) that will include either the Government’s objectives or a detailed description of work to be accomplished, the applicable task areas, a listing of the deliverables required and any additional data, as appropriate. The proposal request will also include specific instructions for the submission of proposals, selection criteria factors, the factors’ order of importance, and other information deemed appropriate.
Contractors will be provided adequate time to prepare and submit responses based on the estimated dollar value and complexity of the proposed SOO/SOW/PWS. The due date will be set in each RFP. If unable to perform a requirement, Contractors shall submit a “no bid” reply in response to the proposal request. All “no bids” shall include a brief statement as to why the Contractor is unable to perform, i.e. conflict of interest.
Responses will be streamlined and succinct, to the extent practical based on the estimated dollar value and complexity of the work, stating compliance or exception to requirements, risks, assumptions and conflict of interest issues. Proposals shall not merely restate SOO, SOW or PWS requirements. Technical proposals may address, as a minimum:
- Technical/Management Approach;
- Key Personnel Assigned;
- Quantities/Hours of Personnel by Labor Categories;
- Other Direct Costs (ODCs) (materials and supplies, travel, training, etc.);
- Period of Performance;
- Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE)/Government-Furnished Information (GFI);
- Security (including clearance level);
- Teaming Arrangement (including subcontracting plan); and
- Other Pertinent Data, (e.g., potential conflict of interest issues).
A written price proposal shall always be required. This part of the proposal shall include detailed price amounts of all resources required to accomplish the task, (i.e. labor hours, rates, travel, incidental equipment, etc.). When competing for task/delivery order awards under the fair opportunity process, the Contractor is permitted to propose labor rates that are lower than those originally proposed and established. The Contractor shall fully explain the basis for proposing lower rates. The proposed, reduced labor rates will not be subject to audit, however, the rates will be reviewed in accordance with FAR 15.404 to ensure the Government will not be placed at risk of nonperformance. The reduced labor rates will apply only to the respective task/delivery order and will not change the fixed rates.
The proposal shall identify labor categories and the number of hours required for performance of the task. The proposal must identify and justify use of all non-labor cost elements. It must also identify any Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) and/or Government Furnished Information (GFI) required for task/delivery order performance. If travel is specified in the task/delivery order statement of work, air fare and/or local mileage, per diem rates by total days, number of trips and number of Contractor employees traveling shall be included in the price proposal. Prior to incurring any long distance travel expenses, the Contractor shall obtain written approval from the COR/COTR of approximate travel dates, expected duration, origin and destination, purpose, estimated costs and the number and names of personnel traveling.
Other relevant information shall always be in writing and shall address other relevant information as required by the contract or requested by the task/delivery order proposal request. The Contractor shall assume all costs associated with preparation of proposals for task/delivery order awards under the fair opportunity process as an indirect charge in the fully loaded rate. The Government will not reimburse awardees for fair opportunity proposals as a direct charge.
Proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the selection criteria set forth in the RFP. The Government’s award decision will be based on the evaluation criteria specified in the RFP. Among other sources, evaluation of past performance may be based upon information that is maintained in a government system for Contractor performance, such as the Contractor Performance Rating System (CPRS). The order of importance for the evaluation factors will be identified in each individual RFP. If necessary, during the evaluation of proposals, the Government may contact a Contractor with questions concerning its proposal. Upon completion of evaluations, the CO will issue a task/delivery order to the Contractor whose proposal is the best value to the government.
After completion of the evaluation, discussions, if any, and trade-off analysis, the CO shall prepare a complete award package to document the selection process and to serve as evidence that the fair opportunity to be considered rule was applied. At a minimum, the award documentation shall include:
- A statement indicating whether announcement of the task order requirement was made to all Contractors eligible for receiving an award for the task requirement or if an exception to the a fair opportunity to be considered rule was cited (cite the exception);
- The selection criteria /methodology used to evaluate the competing Contractors;
- The results of the evaluation; and
- The rationale for the recommendation of the task order awardee, including a summary of any negotiations conducted, price analysis and best value analysis.
In the event issues pertaining to a proposed task cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the CO, the CO reserves the right to withdraw and cancel the proposed task. This decision is final and conclusive and shall not be subject to the “Disputes” clause or the “Contract Disputes Act.” Task/Delivery order may be issued by e-mail, regular mail or facsimile.
Once the contract is in force, the COR/COTR implements and administers the task/delivery order. This Contract Administration involves those activities performed by government officials after a contract action has been awarded to determine how well the government and the contractor perform to meet the requirements of the contract. It encompasses all dealings between the government and the contractor from the time the contract action is awarded until the work has been completed and accepted or the contract terminated, payment has been made, and disputes have been resolved. As such, contract administration constitutes that primary part of the procurement process that assures the government gets what it paid for.
The specific nature and extent of contract administration varies from contract action to contract action. It can range from the minimum acceptance of a delivery and payment to the contractor to extensive involvement by program, audit and procurement officials throughout the contract term. Factors influencing the degree of contract administration include the nature of the work, the type of contract action, and the experience and commitment of the personnel involved. Contract administration starts with developing clear, concise performance based statements of work to the extent possible, and preparing a contract administration plan that cost effectively measures the contractor’s performance and provides documentation to pay accordingly.
Post award orientation is the beginning of good contract administration. This communication process is a useful tool that helps the government and contractor achieve a clear and mutual understanding of the contract requirements; helps the contractor understand the roles and responsibilities of the government officials who will administer the contract; and reduces future problems.
“Partnering” should be discussed with the contractor to avoid future contract administration problems. Partnering is a technique to prevent disputes from occurring. It involves government and contractor management staff mutually developing a “plan for success.”
Good contract administration assures that the customers are satisfied with the service being provided under the contract. Input directly from the customers through the use of customer satisfaction surveys will ensure success of the project. These surveys help to improve contractor performance because the feedback can be used to notify the contractor when specific aspects of the contract action are not being met. In addition, the contracting and program officials can use the information as a source of past performance information on subsequent contract awards. Customer satisfaction surveys help to improve communications between procurement, program, and contractor personnel.
Invoice processing is as important as any other aspect of contract administration. Payment to the contractor for the services delivered is the government’s obligation under the contract. The government expects the contractor to meet all contract requirements for quality, quantity and timeliness. The contractor expects no less of the government in meeting its obligation for timely, accurate payment for services received. A plan or process for quickly and efficiently meeting this obligation is as essential.
It is incumbent upon program, procurement, and finance officials to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities related to reviewing and processing vouchers. This will ensure that payment is only made to contractors who perform in accordance with contract terms and conditions. It is essential that these tasks are discussed with the contractor and COR/COTR during the post award orientation conference. An important aspect of voucher review, approval, and processing is good communication between the COR/COTR, contracting officer, and finance official to ensure that payment is made on time.
Contract closeout begins when the contract has been physically complete, i.e., all services have been performed and products delivered. Closeout is completed when all administrative actions have been completed, all disputes settled, and final payment has been made. The process can be simple or complex depending on the contract type. This process requires close coordination between the contracting office, the finance office, the program office, and the contractor. Contract closeout is important for contract administration.
The contract audit process should be performed on contract closeout for cost-reimbursement contract actions. Contract audits are required to determine the reasonableness, allowability, and allocability of costs incurred under cost reimbursement contracts.
Reasonableness: The division of the appropriation is not excessive or extreme and is within the bounds of common sense.
Allowability: The approved division of an amount (usually of an appropriation) that can be expended for a particular purpose during a specified time period.
Allocability: A distribution of funds or costs that can be allocated from one account or appropriation to one or more accounts or appropriations.
Although there is a pre-award audit of the contractor’s proposal, there is a cost-incurred audit of the contractor’s claim of incurred costs and a close out audit to reconcile the contractor’s final claim under the contract to incurred costs previously audited.