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A contracting officer representative (COR) works for a government agency and serves as business liaison between the agency and private contractors. She monitors contractors’ progress in performing tasks, compiles inspection reports and recommends contract terminations or modifications Educational qualifications for employment vary from one agency to the next. However, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in project management, public health or engineering and complete a formal COR course to enhance your chances of securing the job.
Although a contractor is primarily responsible for executing a contract, having external personnel to monitor performance helps ensure efficient use of public funds. If a contractor is replacing computer equipment in the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, the COR monitors the work from start to finish to confirm that everything is done according to contract specifications. An effective COR has a keen eye for detail to spot minor mistakes that could be costly if they’re not rectified.
As a general rule, government agencies often award contracts to the most competitive and reliable bidder. However, some contractors do shoddy work. As a COR, it’s your duty to inform your boss -- the contracting officer -- and provide counsel on the way forward. For instance, if a contractor is re-carpeting a road and you detect that his team has inadequate training on repairing roads, you can advise the contracting officer to initiate termination of the contract.
A contracting officer representative serves as a communication liaison between the contractor and the agency. He can do this by facilitating direct meetings between parties, delivering written reports to his seniors, making phone calls and sending emails to either party. For example, if a contractor building a chemical plant meets resistance form the community because it poses health risks, the COR can organize meetings between the contractor and agency officials to decide the next course of action.
The contracting officer representative approves invoices and maintains administration records, performance agreements and compliance inspection reports. Keeping these records well helps prevent waste and fraud. If a dispute arises between a contractor and the government regarding the quality and brand of paint the contractor uses to decorate a building, the COR can retrieve contract documents detailing use of construction materials and verify the issue. Spending public funds comes with heightened accountability and transparency, requiring a COR to have good record-keeping skills.
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