It is critical that the COR understand his or her authority when representing the CO. The COR must avoid making unauthorized changes to the contract; making such changes could create serious problems for both the government and the COR. The COR needs to determine the source and extent of the authority assigned to him or her.

What is the source of the COR's authority?

The authority vested in a COR comes directly from the CO. This authority is bestowed upon the COR through specific provisions set forth in the contract or in a letter of designation. The CO can revoke the authority for cause if the COR fails to perform as required.

What authority may be delegated to the COR?

To understand what authority may be delegated to a COR, we need first to examine the CO's authority. The CO's authority is discussed in FAR Subparts 1.6 and 2.1.

FAR 1.602-2 states: "CO's 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."

FAR 2.101 states: "'Contracting officer' means a person with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings. The term includes certain authorized representatives of the Contracting Officer [emphasis added] acting within the limits of their authority as delegated by the Contracting Officer."

The CO may designate other government personnel to act as his or her authorized representatives for such functions as technical monitoring, inspection, approval of testing, and other functions of a technical nature not involving a change in the scope of the contract. Such designation must be in writing and must contain specific instructions regarding the extent to which the representative may take action for the contracting officer.

For every contract, the CO must determine whether to:

Retain the contract and perform all applicable contract administration functions

Retain the contract and perform the administrative functions with the assistance of other government personnel, such as CORs

Assign the contract to a contract administration office (CAO)

Assign the contract to a CAO with specific limitations or specific additions.

What is the COR's authority on a contract?

The extent of the COR's involvement, the specific functions he or she is called on to perform, and the processes used to perform those functions will vary from activity to activity and contract to contract. For example, in one instance the COR may be involved with a certain contract from "cradle to grave," while in another, the COR may be tapped for duty only after the contract has already been awarded.

The CO is responsible for tasking the COR through the official designation letter and through the dynamics of day-to-day teamwork. CORs are generally not authorized to change the price, quantity, quality, delivery, or any terms of the contract.


The following section explains the selection and designation process for a COR and identifies the elements of a COR letter of designation. The COR should follow his or her specific agency policies and procedures relating to CORs, but sometimes agency guidance is lacking or inconsistent. The following questions and answers provide general information and guidance that can be used to establish a better COR selection and designation process for a particular contracting situation.

When should a COR be selected and designated for a contract?

A COR should be selected:

When technical guidance is needed for a contract

To perform inspection functions

When testing approval is required

When continuous surveillance of the contractor's work is required.

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