OFPP toughens training for contract oversight
The government officials who make sure contractors perform well have new training standards because of a push by the Obama administration to strengthen the acquisition workforce for better contract supervision.
The contracting officer’s representatives (CORs) have three levels of training that range from the simple contracts, such as supply contracts, to complex IT procurements, according to a memo from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Dan Gordon released Sept. 6.
Federal acquisition training: Change is afoot
Agency officials must assign their CORs, which were formerly named Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives (COTRs), to one of three levels.
Level I means a COR has eight hours of training, and no prior experience is required. This level of COR is generally appropriate for low-risk contracts and orders.
Level II requires 40 hours of training and one year of previous COR experience. This level of COR is generally appropriate managing projects for contract with moderate to high complexity, including both supply and service contracts.
Level III requires 60 hours of training and two years of previous COR experience. The COR must have experience working on contracts of moderate to high complexity that require significant acquisition investment.
Level III CORs are the most experienced CORs in an agency and should be assigned to the most complex and mission- critical contracts. They are often chosen to handle significant program management work.
CORs, who have been certified under the previous training program, likely have certain training that matches the new program's curriculum. As agencies transition from the single-tiered certification to the new levels of training, officials can assign their current CORs as Level II CORs, although officials have options to place them at Level III certification if they have the expertise, according to the memo.
CORs must ensure their training data is properly entered into the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS) by February 15, 2012. FAITAS is coming out this fall.
The Federal Acquisition Institute plans to launch a resource website for the COR by Oct. 31.
The new certification program does not apply to the Defense Department CORs.
OFPP changed the term from "Contracting Officer's Technical Representative," which civilian agencies have used, to "Contracting Officer's Representatives" to match the term used in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. CORs are often the first to recognize when a program or contract is not doing well, and, more and more, agencies assign them to manage high-value, complex contracts.
Gordon is pushing the training standards as part of his focus on the acquisition workforce and President Barack Obama’s procurement memo from 2009.
“Each member of the acquisition workforce plays a critical role, including Contracting Officer’s Representatives, who ensure that contractors meet the commitments of their contracts,” Gordon wrote.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.