Decision 3. Deal with the Contracting Officer and Get the Decision in Writing
Every year, decisions show that government contractors break the two most critical rules in government contracting: if an agreement is to be binding on the government, it must be in writing and signed by the contracting officer.
No written document.
No contracting officer approval.
Getting to the contracting officer can be a serious problem. Because a contractor typically works closely with an agency’s technical personnel, the agency’s contract administration personnel, in particular the contracting officer, often is only in the distant background. This can be especially true for Department of Defense agencies that have multiple layers of authority: a contracting officer whose identity may change over the course of a multi-year contract, a contracting officer’s representative (COR) or technical representative (COTR), plus perhaps some other contractors providing support to a project. However, regardless of how distant the contracting officer may seem to a contractor, it’s essential that the contracting officer be kept in the loop, especially when a contract clause demands it and warns a contractor that lack of contracting officer approval may be fatal.A contractor recently ended up working for the government for free because the contractor had failed to get the contracting officer’s approval to continue working as required by a contract clause. Because the contractor’s task order would be funded in two to three month increments, the government wanted to carefully monitor how much money had been spent and how much remained in any increment. Monitoring would be done via a DFARS clause, 252.232-7007, Limitation on Government Obligation (LOGO) that required the contractor to notify the contracting officer in writing at least 90 days before the date the contract work would reach 85 percent of the total amount then allotted. In addition, the clause prohibited the contractor from spending more than the allotted amount, stating expressly that the government “will not be obligated in any event to reimburse the contractor in excess of the amount allotted to the contract.”