HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Issued by the
Office of the Secretary Office of Grants and Acquisition Policy and Accountability
Division of Acquisition
Office of Acquisition Policy
FEDERAL ACQUISITION CERTIFICATION FOR
CONTRACTING OFFICERS TECHNICAL REPRESENTATIVES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 – HHS IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FAC-COTR PROGRAM
A. Purpose …………………………………………………….. 3
B. Authorities …………………………………………………….. 4
C. Definitions …………………………………………………….. 4
D. COTR Responsibilities …………………………………….. 5
CHAPTER 2 – FAC-COTR PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
A. Certification Requirements …………………………………….. 7
B. Appointment Procedures ………………………..……………… 8
C. Key Competencies …………………………………………….. 9
D. Initial Certification Requirements …………………………….. 11
E. Requirements for Maintaining Certification …………….. 14
CHAPTER 3 – FAC-COTR CERTIFICATION MANAGEMENT
A. Acquisition Training Management Requirements …………... 17
B. Performance Accountability ……………………………... 17
C. FAC-COTR Application Process ……………………………… 17
D. Documenting and Tracking Continuous Learning Points……… 18
E. Program Assistance ……………………………………………… 18
APPENDIX 1 – APPLICATION FOR FAC-COTR CERTIFICATION
APPENDIX 2 – GUIDANCE ON MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
CONTINUOUS LEARNING POINTS (CLPs)
APPENDIX 3 – FAC-COTR FULFILLMENT REQUEST FORM
APPENDIX 4 – COTR APPOINTMENT LETTER TEMPLATE
FEDERAL ACQUISITION CERTIFICATION FOR
CONTRACTING OFFICERS TECHNICAL REPRESENTATIVES (FAC-COTR)
HHS IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FAC-COTR PROGRAM
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Acquisition Policy Memorandum No: 2008-01, effective October 1, 2008, represents HHS’
implementation of the Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officers’ Technical Representative (FAC-COTR) program; establishes FAC-
COTR certification as a prerequisite for serving as a COTR within HHS and the Operating Divisions (OPDIVs); and promulgates interim acquisition guidance, pending formal incorporation in the HHS Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR).
HHS will maintain a program for training employees for certification and appointment as Contracting Officers’ Technical Representatives (COTRs). Prior to appointment as a COTR, all HHS COTR candidates shall be certified eligible under HHS’ Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officers’ Technical Representative (FAC-COTR) program.
This guide implements the requirements set forth in the Acquisition Policy
Memorandum No: 2008-01, HHSAR 301.604, “Training and Certification of
and the Office of Federal Contracting Officers' Technical Representatives,”
Procurement Policy (OFPP) Memorandum, “Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officers Technical Representatives (FAC-COTR),” dated November
26, 2007. These certification procedures and guidelines map out standard 1competencies HHS COTRs must achieve.
HHS’ FAC-COTR program identifies minimum acquisition training requirements for all individuals who serve as a COTR under a written delegation of authority from a Contracting Officer. Because Project Officers provide technical guidance to the Contracting Officer before award of a contract or order, they are not
subject to fulfilling the requirements of the FAC-COTR certification program - unless they will also be required to perform post-award contract activities. However, Project Officers must adhere to the training requirements specified in HHSAR 301.606.71, “Training Requirements for Project Officers and Technical Evaluators.” The authorities listed below were used to develop the roles,
responsibilities, and limitations for various individuals and offices involved with this FAC-COTR program.
1 Reflects recommendations from an interagency working group led by the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) and applies to all
executive agencies, except those subject to the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA).
The following statutes, regulations, and policies provide authority for the FAC-COTR program:
; OFPP Memorandum, “The Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting
Officer Technical Representative,” dated November 26, 2007
; HHS Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR) 301.604, “Training and Certification of
Contracting Officers’ Technical Representative”
; Acquisition Policy Memorandum No: 2008-01 (effective October 1, 2008),
“Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officers’ Technical
; Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management Memorandum,
“Definition of HHS’ Acquisition Workforce,” dated December 2, 2008
1. Acquisition Career Manager (ACM) (Department-Level) – An employee from
Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources – Office of Grants and
Acquisition Policy and Accountability – Division of Acquisition
(ASFR/OGAPA/DA) responsible for administering the Department’s
certification programs to ensure that the Department’s acquisition workforce
members meet the requirements of OFPP Policy Letter 05-01.
2. Acquisition Career Manager (ACM) (OPDIV-Level) – A Federal employee
responsible for leading the OPDIV’s acquisition career management program
and ensuring that the OPDIV acquisition workforce members meet the
requirements of OFPP Policy Letter 05-01.
3. Continuous Learning Points (CLPs) - Points awarded for successful
completion of continuous learning activities. One CLP equates generally to
one classroom hour and varies for other learning activities, as described in
Appendix 2 of this handbook or Appendix A of the OFPP memorandum dated
November 26, 2007, entitled “The Federal Acquisition Certification for
Contracting Officer Technical Representatives.”
4. Contracting Officer – A Federal employee expressly warranted to enter into,
administer and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and
5. Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) - A Federal employee
to whom a Contracting Officer has delegated authority in writing to act as his
or her representative in monitoring specified aspects of contractor
performance. These aspects may include ensuring that the contractor’s
performance meets the standards set forth in the contract, ensuring the
contractor meets the technical requirements under the contract by the
delivery date(s) and/or within the period of performance, and ensuring that the
contractor performs within the price or estimated cost stated in the contract.
6. FAC-COTR Program Manager – An ASFR/OGAPA/DA employee designated
as the overall Departmental coordinator for all OPDIV FAC-COTR
administration. The FAC-COTR Program Manager’s responsibilities may
include: coordinating the provisions of training; assuring that the training
meets FAC-COTR program requirements; communicating training drivers to
various Operating Divisions (OPDIVs); and communicating federal mandates
as they relate to FAC-COTR certification.
7. Head of Contracting Activity (HCA) – An Operating Division official
responsible for conducting an effective and efficient acquisition program
including establishing, managing, and monitoring HHS’ FAC-COTR
certification program for his/her OPDIV.
8. Project Officer – An HHS employee who provides technical guidance to the
Contract Specialist/Contracting Officer before award of a contract or order.
Project Officers are often delegated post-award authority to act as the
Contracting Officer's Technical Representative.
D. COTR RESPONSIBILITIES
COTRs are integral and valued members of the HHS acquisition workforce because they help to monitor and manage contracts. Further, these individuals provide the technical expertise necessary to convey the Government’s
requirements, oversee the technical performance of the contractor, and ensure that deliverables meet the contractual requirements. Table 1 – HHS’ COTR
Responsibilities – provides an overview of the technical aspects of contracting and the important role that HHS’ COTRs play in successful contracting.
Table 1 – HHS’ COTR Responsibilities
CONTRACT PLANNING ; Advise on, or determine, a need for a product or service
; Analyze technical requirements of the product or service
; Conduct market research to establish technical requirements or identify the
marketplace for goods or services
; Provide technical information to assist in determining type of contract and level of
; Prepare the statement of work (SOW) and help establish the solicitation’s
technical terms and conditions
; Plan the technical aspects of the proposal evaluation process
; Serve on panels to evaluate bids and proposals
; Help establish the contract’s technical terms and conditions
; Serve as agency’s technical representative for contract administration ; Represent agency in technical meetings, record important facts
; Confer with program office and user groups on contract performance ; Maintain COTR file
; Assist contracting officer and contractor in understanding technical requirements Monitoring the technical work of the contractor, and performing quality assurance
and inspection of deliverables:
; Determine and list the deliverables required from the contractor, with due dates ; Monitor the contractor’s compliance with schedule (i.e., deliverables) ; Review and approve, or reject, technical deliverables
; Give technical direction to contractor
; Ensure all work is in accordance with the contract requirements
; Review and monitor progress reports and work plans
; Ensure the contractor is complying with its quality control systems ; Advise the CO of work that is accepted or rejected
; Ensure the contractor properly corrects all defects and omissions Changes and modifications:
; Advise the CO of the need to issue change orders; develop estimates for
equitable adjustments; and assist in evaluating contractor claims ; Perform a technical review of contractor proposed changes
Contractor human resources management and financial management issues: ; Ensure contractor displays required materials for EEO, contract laws, and job
; Report violations of labor standards to the CO
; Monitor time worked and contractor record-keeping procedures
; Ensure contractor enforces all health and safety requirements
; Ensure contractor assigns employees with the necessary capabilities,
qualifications, and experience
; Review and quickly process contractor invoices
; Determine if progress or advance payment requests should be processed Contract closeout or termination:
; Provide technical information for contract closeout and termination decisions ; Provide a copy of the COTR’s file to CO when duties end
FAC-COTR PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
A. FAC-COTR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
1. Any individual appointed to serve as a COTR must have a FAC-COTR 2certification.
2. Certification is obtained through competency-based and assignment-specific
training. Ongoing continuous learning is then required to maintain active
3. HCA’s or their designees (typically Acquisition Career Managers) have been
delegated the authority to establish, manage, and monitor their respective
OPDIV FAC-COTR programs. In performing these functions, HCA’s should
work closely with OPDIV managers who have general responsibilities for
training, competencies, and performance management.
4. For initial FAC-COTR certifications, applicants are required to complete
coursework that includes the key competencies stated in Chapter 2 – Section
C of this Handbook. FAC-COTR certifications are valid for two years from the 3date that such coursework was completed.
5. HHS recognizes and accepts FAC-COTR certifications issued by other
Federal agencies or any HCA or designee.
6. Individuals who have served in a COTR capacity at another agency, and
participated in another federal agency’s COTR training previous to the FAC-
COTR program, may seek recognition for fulfillment of the FAC-COTR
Fulfillment requirements and demonstrate their proficiency by completing the
Request Form (see Appendix 3) and submitting the information to their HCA
7. Individuals who hold a Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C)
Level I or Federal Acquisition Certification for Program/Project Managers
(FAC-P/PM) Level II are considered to have met the FAC-COTR 4requirements. However, they must still submit the necessary documents to
2 Although not a FAC-COTR requirement, all COTRs must receive appropriate training on accessing UFMS/iProcurement to learn about receiving, acceptance, and invoice approval functions. Generally, since purchase card transactions are limited to routine supplies and services, cardholders should not need to delegate technical responsibilities to a COTR. 3 Within reason, the HCA (or designee) may use discretion in determining suitable timeframes for accepting training and determining certification expiration dates. 4 HHS shall follow any determinations made by FAI/OFPP as to which certifications by organizations outside the federal government are eligible for full or partial consideration under the FAC-COTR. A copy of the certification must accompany the application.
8. COTRs are also subject to any specialized mandatory training requirements specified in interim HHSAR guidance, the official HHSAR, and HHS’
Affirmative Procurement Plan.
B. APPOINTMENT PROCEDURES
1. The Contracting Officer will decide whether a COTR is necessary to
support a specific contract, and will advise the program office of this
decision as early into the acquisition process as practical. It is highly
recommended that the COTR be involved in the pre-award acquisition
process (i.e., assisting in the development of the technical requirements,
the quality assurance plan, and any other pre-award activities). This
ensures that the COTR is familiar with the requirements of the contract.
2. Conditions favoring the need for a COTR include, but are not limited to:
cost-type contracts; service contracts; high visibility or otherwise sensitive
contracts; large, complex, or high-risk awards; awards subject to testing
requirements; performance-based acquisitions; etc. COTR appointments
are required for all A&E services, construction contracts, and contracts
performed outside the United States. Appointment of a COTR is generally
not necessary when oversight duties are limited to verifying the quantity
and quality of delivered items. A Contracting Officer will appoint an
individual to be a COTR based on his/her determination regarding the
technical, professional, and administrative qualifications of the individual.
Contracting Officers may require a COTR to complete additional training if
deemed necessary for the successful administration of a contract.
3. Operating and Staff Divisions will delegate COTR authority in accordance
with Departmental policy. It is acceptable for offices to appoint alternate
COTRs in the event the primary COTR is unavailable. Before a
Contracting Officer appoints a COTR, he/she must be assured that the
COTR is free of conflicts of interest and has the technical capability to
perform the required administrative and oversight functions for the
4. The Contracting Officer will define the appointment duration in the written
delegation of authority and has the right to revoke the delegation in writing.
The COTR does not have the authority to re-delegate his or her COTR
appointment. Appendix 4 – “FAC-COTR Appointment Letter” provides a
template for written appointments and can be tailored as needed. The
Contracting Officer’s authority to bind the government may not be
delegated to a COTR.
5. A copy of the COTR’s appointment letter and certification must be a part
of the contract file.
C. KEY COMPETENCIES
HHS’ COTR competency model is designed to enhance proficiency levels. Organizational benefits may include:
; Matching the current workforce profile with the organization’s performance
; Helping to recruit and retain the skills and proficiency levels needed for
COTRs – both current and future;
; Developing assessments that tie competencies to training; and
; Linking HHS’ COTR responsibilities (See Table 1) to key competencies
required for successful contract management.
While general business competencies can be achieved through required training, specific coursework for FAC-COTR certification may be prescribed by the HCA or designee. Specific coursework should be based on a COTR’s proficiency level relating to an area of specialization (e.g., information technology, construction, research and development). The Department plans to expand training and development for COTRs to include specialized areas and levels of complexity.
Table 2 – FAI Key Competencies - lists the FAI core competencies and skills required for certification. A definition of each competency is provided at www.fai.gov.
Table 2 - FAI’s KEY COMPETENCIES
General Business Competencies
Attention to Detail
Planning and Evaluating
Technical Competencies Aligned Skills
; Documenting the Source Acquisition Planning ; Methods of Payment ; Contract Financing ; Unpriced Contracts ; Recurring Requirements ; Pricing Arrangements ; Compliance to FAR Guidelines ; Determining Need for EVM ; Task and Delivery Order Contracting ; Strategic Planning
; Understanding the Marketplace Market Research ; Collecting Source Information
; Writing Statements of Work Defining Government Requirements in ; Conducting Needs Analysis and Preparing Commercial/Non-Commercial Terms Requirements ; Assisting in the Development of Acquisition Strategy
; Publicizing Proposed Acquisition Effective Pre-Award Communication ; Subcontracting Requirements ; Solicitation Preparation ; Pre-Quote/Pre-Bid/Pre-Proposal Conferences ; Amending/Canceling Solicitations
; Evaluating Non-Price Factors Technical Analysis of Proposals ; Pricing Information from Offerors ; Evaluation Documentation
; Negotiation Strategy Negotiation ; Conducting Discussion/Negotiations ; Determining Capability
; Contract Administration Planning and Orientations Effective Contract Management ; Contract Modification and Adjustment ; Work Order Management
; Performance Metrics Performance Management ; Performance Management ; Financial Management ; Contract Reporting ; Inspection and Acceptance ; Specialized Requirements
*These duties and the associated aligned skills are articulated in FAI’s COTR Competencies report. COTR’s are reminded that their authority comes from the Contracting Officer’s memorandum of appointment.
A COTR’s duties, responsibilities, and obligations are defined by and limited to those articulated in their
appointment memorandum and must be exercised in accordance with HHS policies.