Contracting officers are responsible for ensuring performance of all necessary actions for effective contracting, ensuring compliance with the terms of the contract, and safeguarding the interests of the United States in its contractual relationships. The Federal Acquisition Regulations authorize the contracting officer (KO) to delegate to a Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) certain responsibilities. You’ll sometimes hear a COR referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the KO. Note: A single designation letter may identify multiple Contracts or task/delivery Orders on it. Only contracting officers have authority to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings, and even then, contracting officers may bind the Government only to the extent of the authority delegated to them. This is THE key differentiator between a KO and a COR.
Often, a contracting officer appoints a COR to perform specific technical or administrative functions; however, the COR has no authority to make any commitments or changes that affect price, quality, quantity, delivery, or other terms and conditions of the contract nor in any way direct the contractor or its subcontractors to operate in conflict with the contract terms and conditions. (FAR 1.602-1 (a); 1.602-2; and 2.101). A COR generally does not have any delegated authority from the contracting officer to change the terms, conditions, or scope of the contract in any way. Oftentimes the COR is primarily the official communication conduit between contractor personnel, the contracting officer, and other Government subject matter experts. A COR may involve other personnel in communications with the contractor, but the COR remains the official liaison for any technical communications with the contractor, including technical interpretations.
The COR can be everywhere depending on the work delegated by the KO. Some CORs will be up front and early working the requirements. Others may not be assigned until contract award and will only do the administrative tasks. Some may be involved from start to end. Some may do complete inspection, acceptance, invoice review and approval etc. Some may be much more administrative or mere conduits of information, routing documents (deliverables) to subject matter experts and the KO for their review and decision making.
Note: Agencies and organizations will often have terminology such as TCORs, ACORs, etc. At the DoD level we make NO distinction between these variations. Anyone who is delegated in writing some authority by the KO is a “COR”. There is no substantial difference in duties between these titles. Also consider that sometimes a KO does not assign a COR instead, he/she will maintain control of all contract surveillance, administration and monitoring activities. For additional clarity you may wish to browse or take DAU’s course CLC 222, Contracting Officers Representative (COR) Online Training.