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Mildly Entertaining

Contract lines of authority

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Hi all,

I have some questions about how lines of authority on a contract work. 

Say CO Jane has awarded Contract 123 and assigned a COR.  This CO works in Branch "Alpha".

The program office normally works with CO Jim who works in Branch "Beta" and has a question about Contract 123.  Can CO Jim authoritatively answer questions about this contract or must the program office direct their question to CO Jane?  To me, it's pretty clearly the latter but I'm being told by CO Jim it's the former.

Say the COR of Contract 123 states something is not permissible under this contract.  Can CO Jim "override" the COR's judgement?

What if COs Jane and Jim work in the same Branch, and Jim is Jane's boss.  In that case, does Jim's authority on the contract supersede Jane's?

Say Branches "Alpha" and "Beta" fall under Division "Omega", whose Chief is CO Linda.  Does Linda's authority over Contract 123 supersede Jane's and Jim's?

Any references to the FAR supporting your answers would also be much appreciated. 

Thank you in advance.

 

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You're looking in the wrong place for your answer. You won't find this answer in the FAR. You're asking about the internal management structure and informal workflow of a particular government office. You also have an incorrect presumption, which is that one contracting officer can "authoritatively" answer questions that another contracting officer cannot, regarding a specific question. Any "battle of the contracting officers" will be settled by the office structure or politics or something else, but it will not be some clear-cut process outlined in the FAR.

If Jim and Jane are both contracting officers, they're both warranted to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts, including contracts that were signed by others.

Both Jim and Jane can answer questions. They might have different answers.

If Linda is the "Chief," then Linda has supervisory and management authority over Jane and Jim, who are both in Linda's division.

Don't confuse the supervisory authority with the power of a contracting officer to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts (and make determinations and findings). 

 

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1 hour ago, PepeTheFrog said:

Both Jim and Jane can answer questions. They might have different answers.

That's the conundrum I'm trying to resolve.  If they give different answers, who do I go with?  Guess it depends on the internal management structure.

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34 minutes ago, Mildly Entertaining said:

If they give different answers, who do I go with?

Assuming you're the individual with decision authority in all of this, I recommend you go with the individual who can give you a sound explanation for his/her position.  The individual should be able to explain what the issue is and what the rule(s) is/are in relation to that issue, apply the rule(s) to the issue, and reach a valid conclusion (see syllogism or deductive reasoning).

Other decision methods include flipping a coin or choosing the person whose answer best aligns with your preconcieved opinion (neither of which I'd recommend).

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53 minutes ago, Mildly Entertaining said:

If they give different answers, who do I go with? 

Are you with the government or contractor?  If the former, one thing you have to keep in mind is whatever position the government takes has an impact on the contractor.  In this regard, the answer both COs give might be different from the contractor's interpretation of the contract and none of the interpretations may be correct.

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On 4/4/2018 at 2:26 AM, Mildly Entertaining said:

Hi all,

I have some questions about how lines of authority on a contract work. 

Say CO Jane has awarded Contract 123 and assigned a COR.  This CO works in Branch "Alpha".

The program office normally works with CO Jim who works in Branch "Beta" and has a question about Contract 123.  Can CO Jim authoritatively answer questions about this contract or must the program office direct their question to CO Jane?  To me, it's pretty clearly the latter but I'm being told by CO Jim it's the former.

Say the COR of Contract 123 states something is not permissible under this contract.  Can CO Jim "override" the COR's judgement?

What if COs Jane and Jim work in the same Branch, and Jim is Jane's boss.  In that case, does Jim's authority on the contract supersede Jane's?

Say Branches "Alpha" and "Beta" fall under Division "Omega", whose Chief is CO Linda.  Does Linda's authority over Contract 123 supersede Jane's and Jim's?

Any references to the FAR supporting your answers would also be much appreciated. 

Thank you in advance.

 

FAR 1.602-1(a) states that Contracting officers may bind the Government only to the extent of the authority delegated to them. 

You need to find out the authority of all the parties. Information on the limits of the contracting officers’ authority shall be readily available to the public and agency personnel, per the same reference.

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