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Handbook 09-48
September 2009

Chapter 2

Contracting 101

As a member of the acquisition team, you will be developing Section C of the contract, and you should have a basic understanding of the "cradle to grave" concept of contracting (see Figure 1-1 for generic contracting flow). If you are writing the performance work statement (PWS), you will most likely be participating in many other aspects of the contracting process.

Figure 1-1. Contracting flow
Figure 1-1. Contracting flow

Essential Elements of the Contract

Contracts generally follow the uniform contract format. This format divides each contract into parts I, II, III, and IV.

(Tip: Pay particular attention to Section C below)

Part I: The schedule

Section A (contract form): This section contains basic information such as the issuing office, addresses, and contract number.

Section B (supplies or services and prices/costs): This section contains a brief description of the supplies or services and quantity.

Section C (description/specifications/statement of work [SOW]/PWS): This section contains a detailed description of the requirement and may contain references to other sections of the contract.

PWS format within Section C:

  • Section C-1: General
  • Section C-2: Definitions
  • Section C-3: Government-furnished property and services
  • Section C-4: Contractor-furnished items
  • Section C-5: Requirements
  • Section C-6: Publications and forms
  • Technical exhibits

Section D (packaging and marking): This section provides packaging, packing, preservation, and marking requirements.

Section E (inspection and acceptance): This section contains inspection, acceptance, quality assurance, and reliability requirements. (Inspect all deliverable items, services, or materials to determine satisfactory compliance with the contract. Remember if you sign the receiving report it is too late to reject the service or deliverables.)

Section F (delivery or performance): This section specifies the time, place, and method of delivery or performance.

Section G (contract administration data): This section contains any required accounting, appropriation data, required contract administration information, or instructions other than those on the solicitation form.

Section H (special contract requirements): This section contains a clear statement of any special contract requirements that are not included in Section I, Part II, contract clauses, or in any other sections of the contract.

Part II: Contract clauses

Section I, commonly known as the "boilerplate": This section includes standard clauses of considerable power that define the rights and responsibilities of contracting parties. It also contains clauses mandated by regulations or laws. Local clauses are also added depending on the particular location.

Part III: List of documents, exhibits, and other attachments

Key highlights: Contains Section J, which is the list of attached documents, exhibits, and other items. Any cross-references to material in other sections of the contract may be included.

Part IV: Representations and instructions

Section K, representations, certifications, and other statements: This section includes solicitation provisions that require representations, certifications, or the submission of other information by offerors or respondents.

Section L, instructions, conditions and notices to offerors or quoters: This section contains basic information such as the issuing office, address, and contract number.

Section M, evaluation factors for award: This section includes solicitation provisions and other information or instructions not provided elsewhere to guide offerors or respondents in preparing proposals or responses to requests for information. This section may also instruct prospective offerors or respondents to submit proposals or information in a specific format or severable parts to facilitate evaluation. The instructions may specify further organization of proposal or response parts, such as:

  • Administrative
  • Management
  • Technical
  • Past performance
  • Cost or pricing data or information other than cost or pricing data

Developing the Acquisition Team Contact List

The acquisition team consists of all participants in the acquisition process such as the requiring activity; finance officer; resource manager (RM); contracting officer (KO); contracting officer's representative (COR); and others, as applicable. Successful teams typically assign specific duties to each member, develop performance measures and milestones, and hold each member of the group and the group as a whole accountable. Normally, leadership of the team comes from the KO, however the COR plays a critical role in determining the success of the contract after its award.

Basic acquisition team

KO: The KO is the only individual expressly authorized to enter into, administer, or terminate contracts. KOs are responsible for ensuring all contract actions comply with appropriate laws, executive orders, regulations, and other applicable procedures and approvals.

Requiring activity: The requiring activity is usually the Army unit that has a requirement for goods or services and initiates the requirement. CORs routinely interface between the requiring activity (which is most often the COR's own unit), the contractor, and the supported customer (which may be the requiring activity).

General counsel: The general counsel provides legal advice to the acquisition team and reviews acquisition documents for legal sufficiency. Your KO will have the legal point of contact.

COR: The COR is an individual or several individuals (depending on the contract) the KO appoints in writing. The COR monitors the technical or performance aspects of a contract and performs other duties specified in the appointment letter or orders. Ideally upon contract award, each individual who serves as a COR participates in developing the requirement and other pre-award activities so he/she is familiar with all aspects of the contract.

RM: The RM provides advice and guidance to the commander and is responsible for developing command resource requirements, identifying sources of funding, determining cost, acquiring funds, distributing and controlling funds, and tracking costs and obligations.

Miscellaneous others: Other personnel may also be used based on areas of expertise that could affect the requirement and overall acquisition action. An example includes an individual appointed to develop the PWS or SOW.

(Tip: Write down the acquisition team members' names, units, phone numbers, and email addresses.)


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