In any system, communication is key. The same applies to when businesses contract with the federal a government. For this blog post, we're going to cover points of contact. Without a firm understanding of this concept, you will be at a disadvantage in the federal marketplace.
We will answer the following questions:
- What is a point of contact?
- What is a contracting officer?
- How do I find the point of contact?
- How do I manage my own point of contact?
What is a point of contact?
A point of contact is and individual who represents a party conducting business. The purpose of a point of contact to to make sure that communication is handled with ease.
If you're trying to do business with the U.S. government, having multiple points of communication playing phone tag will disrupt the entire process.
With just one individual representing each party, the line of communication is kept firm and simple. You should have a point of contact in your business (it could be yourself) and for the government, most of the time it's going to be a contracting officer.
What is a contracting officer?
According to FAR (48 CFR) Part 1.602-2, "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. In order to perform these responsibilities, contracting officers should be allowed wide latitude to exercise business judgment."
- Select who wins the contract.
- Administer the contract.
- Terminate contracts.
- Evaluate performance.
- Acts as a point of contact for a federal agency.
Sometimes you might hear people say the following terms:
- Procurement Officer
- Procurement Agent
- Contracting Agent
They all just different words for contracting officer. Only refer to these individuals as "contracting officers" with your own team to avoid miscommunication.
How do I find a point of contact?
The government's point of contact (aka contracting officer) will be listed various notices including:
- Sources Sought
- Modifications, Amendments, or Cancellation
- Award Notices
- Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
On The Advanced Procurment Portal, you will be able to easily find the point of contact in the "Contact Information" field:
Here it is on Beta SAM:
How do I establish my point of contact?
If you're a small business, then as the owner, you should take the reigns as being a point of contact. However, if you want to choose a team member to fulfill this need, you will want someone who has skills in knowledge in:
- Oral and Written Communication
- Government Contracting
- Your Business's Capabilities
The purpose of the point of contact is to simplify communication between two parties. The less people involved with your communication, the better. So only assign one person as your point of contact.
The government usually uses a contracting officer as a point of contact. You can find out their name and how to reach them on the various notices posted by agencies.