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    What kind of actions/options can a contracting officer take given the above scenario? I heard of CO's cancelling PR's, but I've also heard of CO's getting in trouble for that from leaderhip. When you don't have sufficient requirement, but it's on the 11th hour or funds will be taken away, what do you do? What kind of documentation do you need? What are truely critical mission needs? Can a comander provide a letter stating the critical nature of a mission? The FAR says make a judgement call, but CO's are often given questionable mission need responses from leadership to make acquisitions happen at high risk to the Government; what does CO's judgement really mean, and what authority can back it up if you get a retaliatory strike?


    Answer

    The issues and questions you raise are too controversial to answer in this forum, but you can rest assured they are very IMPORTANT questions that are at the heart of the concept of contracting officer authority. Because there are shades of gray implicit in the organizational conflicts you mention, there is no clear answer to most of your questions. I understand this is not what you wanted to hear, but know that you are not alone. While your situation sounds as if it may be extreme, varying degrees of these problems occur in contracting offices all the time.

    The underlying issue is more of a leadership problem than a technical contracting problem, and for that there is no immediate solution. All you can do is continue to continue express your concerns through your chain of command and reach out to your customers with rationale for how they can help you to help them. There is never an excuse for clearly violating the FAR by, for example, steering awards to favored contractors without following FAR procedures to select the most qualified sources. Probably the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to carefully DOCUMENT in the contract files any and all concerns you have about the issues above, so if you are inspected, there will be an audit trail of how you attempted to perform your contracting responsibilities in good faith.

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